Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween



Happy Halloween

from

Sourcebooks Casablanca Authors




Hi! This is Gina Conkle (I write Viking and Georgian romance). Now that my boys are older, October and Halloween is less about Trick-or-Treating and costumes and more about football, football, football and all things pumpkin flavored. Last year, I discovered my husband's love for the seasonal angel food spiral pumpkin cake (with cream cheese frosting filling). For weeks, he'd bring home a new pumpkin cake and it'd be gone in a day or two. He's Mr. Healthy but this cake was his weakness! What about you? Do you have a weakness for certain fall foods?

Happy Halloween!  Gina




We're ready! Happy HalloweenTerry Spear

 ***
This is Shana Galen. My daughter is 8 and so excited for Halloween this year. For the last few years, she's been Disney princesses. This year she's Supergirl. My favorite costume when I was a kid was the year I went as an angel. What about you?

Not my kids, but cute and super girls!



***

Happy Halloween from Juliet Lyons...

We celebrated Halloween with a trip on the Ghost Bus Tour of London. As a paranormal author, I'm always on the hunt (in this case quite literally) for spooky fun things to do. The ghost tour did not disappoint. As well as hearing about London's grizzly past, we had to deal with a ghost of our own, banished thankfully by an on-board seance. If you're ever in London, it's a fun way to see the darker side of the city.


Unfortunately, there were no vampires on the trip. But hey, you can't have it all.
Have a spook-tacular Halloween!! Love Juliet xxxxoxx

*** 


Hi from Alyson McLayne!

Halloween was my favorite holiday growing up (yes, even better than Christmas!) because my birthday is the day after Halloween, and so I would have combination Halloween/Birthday parties. If Halloween fell on Friday or Saturday, my friends and I would trick or treat together and then have a sleepover—and birthday cake for breakfast!! (I now have kids—twins—and shudder at the thought of what my mom went through, lol). If I had a party the Saturday before Halloween, my mom would get imaginative and create games like musical pumpkins and pin the nose on the pumpkin. Whereas I, on the other hand, was hoping my kids would be born on leap year, so I’d only have to celebrate their birthday once every four years—Hahaha!! Slacker mom…hmmm…now there’s an idea for a costume.

 

Happy Halloween, Everyone!!

 ---

Happy Halloween from Tamara Morgan!

This is the first year that my daughter has decided she's too old to go trick-or-treating with her parents, which both breaks my heart and makes me happy. Where we live, the temperatures are well into freezing this time of year, which means trudging from house to house with an enormous bag of candy isn't always pleasant. But we were so good at Halloweening together!

Here we are as Sadness and Joy. Because, obviously.

The good news is that I can stay home and work on my spooky, witch-themed mystery novel instead. So I guess there's always a win. :)

---

Happy Halloween from Marie Harte!

Today my kids are excited to trick or treat, or at least, the youngest is. My 14-year-old will be staying home with me, watching a scary movie, and giving out candy as much as he's eating it, no doubt. We're big into Halloween in our family. I also recently hosted my annual spooky party with writer friends. With a lack of good costumes this year, I was a...sad to say...hippie. But somewhere in that costume I inserted the word "zombie," so it's all good. Hope you enjoy your Halloween!


Monday, October 30, 2017

The Battle of the Books: The First "He's Hot!" Moment by Gina Conkle

The Battle of the Books continues...



Two novels in my Midnight Meetings series are launching in these final months of 2017: The Lord Meets His Lady (book 3) and Meet a Rogue at Midnight (book 4, a novella). Part of the fun has been comparing hallmark scenes in romance and seeing which book fared better.

I'm continuing "Battle of the Books"* with "The Heroine's First 'He's hot!'" moment...which is extra fun when read in Georgian times.

But how have the books fared in this contest? Take a look at how readers voted:

1. First Kiss
Meet a Rogue at Midnight: 10
The Lord Meets His Lady:  11

The verdict? The Lord Meets His Lady wins by a nose. Most of you loved how Lord Marcus let Genevieve take control of the kiss. The most recurring comment in favor of Jonas in Meet a Rogue at Midnight? That he put his hands in her hair for their lip lock.


2. First Meet
Meet a Rogue at Midnight: 8
The Lord Meets His Lady: 2

The verdict? Meet a Rogue at Midnight's Jonas tackles a housebreaker in his bed chamber only to discover he's nose deep in a pair of breasts. The Lord Meets His Lady's first meet was a tamer broken down coach scene with a few dry quips.


3. First Funny Moment
Meet a Rogue at Midnight: 1
The Lord Meets His Lady: 10

The verdict? The Lord Meets His Lady won this handily. You all loved the saucy housekeeper putting a lord in his place over Meet a Rogue at Midnight's subtle, teasing humor between long time friends.


So, without further ado, here's the Heroine's First "He's hot!" moment in both book. Be sure and let me know who won in the comments below.



A. The Lord Meets His Lady     The Scene Set-up: Lord Marcus has taken into his care a modest herd of horses in need of TLC (all with various ailments). Genevieve volunteered to help and begins to see Lord Marcus in a new light.

Find the book on:
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Genevieve plunked the water bucket inside the stall. “Hot, salted water as you requested.”
            Lord Bowles crouched to pour the salt water into a shallow, wooden box. His muscled thighs moved with grace in wool breeches above well-worn hip boots on long legs. Forearms flexing, he tipped the bucket, flashing the black horse tattoo. He’d long ago removed his coat and rolled up his sleeves.
            Heat singed her cheeks when she stared long at the leather folds ending inches above his knees. She’d ridden those leather folds and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again. Sex was on her mind, but not his lordship’s. The master of Pallinsburn traded quips with her, but he spent his day courting four-legged creatures with tender care.
             “You won’t haul anything upstairs for me,” he teased, setting aside the bucket. “But you’ll haul water through a mud-drenched yard for a horse.”
            She removed her cloak and hooked it on the beam. “If you’re injured, milord, I promise to haul buckets of water wherever you want.”
            His hands fascinated her, attractive and long fingered. What would happen if he touched her bare skin? At the moment, he mashed a fresh poultice with a mortar and pestle, working a potion same as the old apothecary she’d frequent off Lombard Street.
            Stone clinked against stone. “Is that it? A man has to be injured to win your attention.”
            “If you’re laid up in bed, I’ll see to your needs.”
            “Don’t tempt me.” He grinned, grinding the pestle’s round head against the bowl.
            In and out. Small, careful strokes, he rolled his tool inside the mortar with precision. He was a man who had a care with menial tasks. The hour was late, yet his smile was a broad slash of white in a dirt streaked face. Queue in disarray, his shirt open at the neck, Lord Bowles mixed his concoction, a man born to heal horses.
            She leaned against the stall’s post. “I’d say you’re in your element.”
            The mashing paused. “Don’t let on with Samuel. I want him miserable for at least another day.” He set down the bowl and dipped a hand inside.
            “Is this about the gambling?”
            His thumb rubbed circles over four finger tips, testing the remedy. “You heard that.”
            “When I brought the linen strips earlier. I couldn’t help it.”
            “We were—” Lord Bowles paused, searching the air. “—discussing the merits of my gambling.”
            “More like the merits of you not gambling, if I heard you right.”
            “Exactly. With cards my talent is passable at best.”
            “But, it’s not the gaming, is it?”
            He smelled the poultice on his fingers. “I need to stay above reproach…not even a whiff of scandal. The name Lord Marcus Bowles and gambling in the same sentence won’t sound good.”
            “Because of your brother looking for a bride.” She cast a side long glance at the new row of horses. “Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to make a go of it one more time? To save these horses? We’re far away from London, milord.”
            He wiped his hands with linen and tossed it into an overflowing bucket of rags. “While Samuel’s assured of the outcome, I am not.” Lines etched the sides of his mouth. “It will be me sitting at the table after all.”
            “A gambler who’s lost his edge.” She toyed with the laces on her gown. “Could be a simple matter of sharpening your skills.”
            Lord Bowles stilled, his satyr’s smile gleaming from the shadows. “As in find the right whetstone?” His raspy chuckle was sensual. “Miss Turner you are a surprise.”
            Her skin tingled, more alive for the aromas of leather and hay and being near him. Little things snared her attention. His cambric shirt opened at the neck, the white edges grazing his skin. The plain grey waistcoat he wore enfolding a lean waist. His chest she already knew was nicely muscled and covered with a dusting of hair. Despite her general ease with men, she stood in an unknown place. This was his world, and she was in it. The stamped earth should be level underfoot, but she couldn’t shake the sense of having stepped on uncertain ground.



B. Meet a Rogue at Midnight              The Scene Set-up: Jonas just freed a housebreaker (in his bed chamber) because he was shocked to discover he'd tackled a woman. Now, he's about to get another surprise.

     Find the book on Amazon
Sin-black hair with angelic blue eyes shouldn’t be an earthly possibility, yet Jonas wore the combination as though his appeal didn’t matter. Plumtree’s rebel son was never one to charm the ladies; his brother Jacob owned that talent. In his youth, Jonas had muddled through conversation when the fair sex flirted with him. From farmer’s daughters to highborn ladies, women were drawn to the quiet lad like flies to honey, but this man with a gold piece twinkling from his ear dripped with confidence.
Livvy sat bolt upright. “What’s this?” She tapped the gold hoop. “Were you a gentleman of fortune? Possibly a pirate?”
His head jerked back at her familiar touch.
She smiled and braced a hand on his bed. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
The notion pricked her pride. Her chin tipped higher and she waited. She’d been a girlish fourteen when Jonas last saw her, and he a strapping young man of twenty.
Eyes scrunching, he searched her face and form, a warm tingle following wherever his gaze touched.
“Livvy? Livvy Halsey?”
“In the flesh.” She nodded at his well-formed chest. “And you might want to cover some of yours.”
Massive arms crossed his chest, the muscled hills and trenches of those limbs earned from years of sea going adventures if the tales she’d heard were true.
“You’ve seen my chest before.”
Oh, but not this fascinating version of Jonas. The flesh she’d seen had been when village lads held a wrestling match in her family’s meadow. Battling barefoot in shirtsleeves and breeches, Jonas took all comers. Two of them attacked him at once. A boy grabbed his shirt and the fabric ripped in two.
“Explain yourself,” he said. “What are you doing in my bedchamber at midnight?”
Skin on her neck flushed, the heat dancing feather-soft to her cheeks. She wasn’t a child to be reprimanded. Or was it Jonas in a state of dishabille? His placket was half-fastened, and the fire’s dim light touched shoulders wider and stronger than she remembered. Black curls framed brown male nipples, the discs as intriguing as the coarse black hair encircling them. Her body wanted to stay put, but her brain cried for distance.
“I, I came to get something.” She slid off the mattress, her bottom brushing his bed sheets, the intimate sound seductive. The Jonas of her childhood was the heart of mild infatuation, but this man made her body sluggish and her pulse heavy. She gripped the ends of her coat, needing something to hold. Their tumble warmed her to the core, so did the view of him bathing.
She’d not timed this well at all.
“Don’t play coy,” he said. “Last I saw you, your braids were flying as you galloped away.”
“And last I saw you, your lips were stuck to my sister.”
Chuckling, he leaned back on the bed post. “How is Elspeth?”
Her fingernails dug into her coat. “She’s well. Married and widowed since you’ve been gone.”
Black brows knit together as Jonas absorbed the news. Head shaking, his blue gaze pinned her. “Sorry to hear about her loss, but you need to explain yourself.”
“I think not. Years ago, I might’ve done your bidding like a tame puppy, but I’m not a child anymore.”
His smile pinched. “I noticed.”
Barks of laughter rang through the house. The Yuletide song was done, the cue for her to leave. She smiled gamely, taking a cautious side-step toward the wheel lock. Jonas must’ve read her intent because he was off the bed nimble as a cat, standing between her and the gun.
“Don’t be stubborn, Liv. What about your mother and father? They must be worried.” A subtle frown clouding his face, he focused on his half-fastened placket. “This goes beyond the pale…even for you.”
Spine straight, she owned her choices. There’d been many painful ones of late. The timing aside, she didn’t regret her theft. But, stealing from a dear, childhood friend—even a long absent one—wasn’t easy.
Not when his gentle baritone chided her.
“You’re not answering me.” Jonas slipped a brass button into its red velvet hole.
Such large hands. Mouth slack, a shiver skimmed her body. Facing him, she couldn’t make her tongue work. A muscle bulged in the valley between his thumb and forefinger. Long fingers skimmed his placket with a deft touch, the veins and sinew twisting under his skin. Was he as careful when touching a woman? She swallowed peculiar thickness in her throat. Jonas required answers. It’d be nice to tell him who carried the burdens at home now, but to what end? Childhood was gone, taking some of her openness with it. Jonas wasn’t long for Plumtree. Better to give blithe evasions, same as she did with everyone else this year.
“My mother and father are safely abed,” she said. “Where I need to be, if you’d be so kind as to forget about my being here.” 
“Not likely.”
Ruby red velvet hugged brawny thighs. Jonas glowed with good health, his flesh brown as a roasted coffee bean. Above his placket, stomach muscles flexed with grooves and hollows. He’d seen the world and by the looks of all his gloriously sun-kissed skin, the world had seen Jonas.


Now it's your turn. Tell me which "First "He's hot!" moment resonated with you and why. The more emotional Lord Marcus & Genevieve scene? Or the more blatant Jonas in a state of dishabille with Livvy scene?
                                                Thanks for stopping by~ Gina 



Gina Conkle writes lush Viking romance and sensual Georgian romance. Her books always offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.


*If you didn't catch these scenes, you can read and compare them on my blog:



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Plenty of Halloween offers from the Casablanca Authors this weekend...




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Friday, October 27, 2017

Why the Y?





The YMCA and YWCA are not just for swimming lessons anymore. They do some incredibly important work in our communities, and I wonder how many people aren’t even aware of it.

Here’s the mission statement of the YWCA. YWCA New Hampshire’s mission is to eliminate racism and to empower women in order to attain the common vision of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.
In support of this mission, YWCA NH provides services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, reduce violence, eliminate racism and achieve equal opportunities for all people.
Our vision

We believe that, working together, we can create a community where:
* All women and families have a safe and stable place to live
* All adults are economically self-sufficient
* All children and youth develop the skills they need for successful lives
* All people live with dignity – free from violence, racism and discrimination

That’s a tall order, but they’re taking it on.

The Y organization is close to my heart and not just because they taught me to swim when I was eight years old and afraid of the water. This is where women and children can go when they’re being mistreated and don’t have a safety net.

Ever wonder why you don’t hear where all the battered women’s shelters are? It’s because, for safety, their locations must be kept off the grid. So how do those who need them find them? If they’re not referred by an emergency room doctor or concerned professional, they get to the nearest YWCA.

I was luckier than most. I had a loving and protective family who welcomed me and my infant daughter home. I had never seen domestic abuse growing up. I barely had any idea it existed. So when I was young, dumb, and in love, I was unaware of the warning signs. (In hindsight, they were all there.) 

You might wonder why on earth I became a romance writer. Well, call me a hopeless romantic, but I ‘just knew’ there was someone out there for me. I had experienced Mr. Wrong, but deep in my heart I still believed there was a Mr. Right. I’m thrilled to say I found him--or more accurately, we found each other.

Perhaps because I experienced the worst, I really appreciate having the best husband on the planet. I call him Mr. Amazing in all my social media posts. All my readers refer to him that way We’ve even received cards addressed to Ashlyn Chase and Mr. Amazing!

So, there it is. I write romance, because despite a rocky start, I believe in love. I’m definitely living my happily ever after. Maybe through my books I can let others know it’s possible.  

 Profits from our recent Fall in Love with New England Romance Reader/Author Conference are going to the Manchester, NH, YWCA.

What charity or cause is close to your heart?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Little Holiday Inspiration

I confess, I've been in a bit of a writing slump.  I try to write, but I am easily distracted by any shiny object that comes my way.  It's hard to get my tush in the chair and just focus and write. One thing I do love, especially at this time of year, are the short holiday romances.  I love to read them-short, sweet, full of holiday magic.  I also like to write them, but lately it's been challenging to find the motivation.

So this year I decided to do things backwards.  Usually, I will write a story, then look for a cover.  This time, I decided I needed a little motivation first.  So voila!  Here is the cover for my new Christmas short story, Miss Devine's Christmas Wish!


What is Miss Devine's Christmas wish?  I suppose I'm going to have to write the story to find out!  Now that I have a beautiful cover, I am getting inspired to write the story.  I know it's a bit backwards, but getting the cover first has inspired me!

If you are interested in reading the results of my Christmas cover inspiration, sign up for my newsletter.  I'll be sending out a free copy of the short story...just as soon as I finish writing it!

What inspires you? 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Kim Redford Shares the Christmas Angel (and Excerpt) from A COWBOY FIREFIGHTER FOR CHRISTMAS





At Christmastime, I’ve long enjoyed setting out a blond-haired angel dressed in a white satin gown holding a golden harp in her hands. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” plays while the angel’s arms move up and down as if she’s strumming her harp after I punch a red button on the base. I feature this angel in A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas, particularly important after Trey dubs Misty his Christmas angel.    

Read on for an excerpt from A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas.

On Wildcat Road, a half-naked man burst out of a pasture and ran onto the two-lane highway. He stopped on the white centerline and waved a bright red shirt back and forth high over his head.

Misty Reynolds slammed on the brakes of her SUV, caught searching for a radio station that wasn’t playing Christmas music.

She gripped the steering wheel with both hands as she screeched to a stop, managing to narrowly avoid hitting the guy. She felt her heart thump hard with the burst of adrenaline and slumped against her seat in relief, grateful she’d been able to stop in time. She forced her breath to a slower, calmer pace.

As the adrenaline rush drained away, and she was able to focus, she got a better look at the stranger and licked her lower lip. This guy was all ripped jeans, cowboy boots, and big belt buckle over buff, bronze, sweaty body. His broad, muscular shoulders tapered to a narrow waist, and his long legs looked as if they belonged straddling a horse. He reminded her of her all-time favorite candy, Texas Millionaires.

It’d been a long time since a man had set her senses on spin cycle. And she’d nearly run him over. She wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or frightened. She felt a little shaky. Here and now was not a good time or place. Life was shaking her up enough already. She didn’t need this problem.

She was headed toward a wide place in the road called Wildcat Bluff. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex—as in big-city civilization—sprawled a couple of hours south. She had gladly left it and all the Christmas hubbub behind her. She was far away from everything now, except cattle, grass, trees. And the tan­talizing stranger. But what was going on here?

***

He ran the last few steps to her car, pulled on the door handle, and then hit the window with the flat of his hand. “Help me!” he said in a deep voice muted by the closed windows.

“Do you have a medical emergency?” She held up her phone. “No coverage.”

He frowned, drawing his dark, straight eyebrows together, as he shook his shirt at her. “There’s a grass fire!”

She realized his red shirt was blackened and burned in spots. He’d obviously been using it to beat out a fire.

Only minutes to stop it.” He glanced at her backseat, and his face lit up with happiness. “You’ve got towels!” He dropped his tattered shirt.

“Always. Just in case.” Even as the words left her mouth, panic started to seize control. Breath caught in her throat. Chills turned her cold. And she felt pressure on her chest as if from a great weight. She was terrified of fires. They ranked as even more nightmarish than Christmas, ever since that early morning when she was twelve. She stopped that thought in its tracks. No good ever came from reliving the past. Right now, she had to get out of there before a panic attack overwhelmed her. She threw her car in reverse.

“Stop! I’m Fire-Rescue.” He hit her window with the flat of his hand again.

She was startled out of backing up and transfixed by his intense gaze, pinning her in place.

“If that fire gets loose, it’ll burn across these pastures and kill cattle, horses, and wild animals. Timber will go up fast and furious. Wildcat Bluff won’t stand a chance,” the stranger shouted, pounding his fist on the roof of her car.

She felt his urgent words override her panic. She took a deep breath, then released the locks and opened her door. The scent of burning grass hit her and she reeled back against the seat. She put one hand across her nose to reduce the smell of smoke and another across her chest as if in protection.

Thank you!” He jerked wide the back door. He grabbed three towels and slammed the door shut. “Name’s Trey.”

“Misty,” she mumbled, prepared to do—well, what­ever this hot, strong guy thought she could do. He tossed a blue towel onto her lap, and flashed a quick but genu­ine smile.

“Well, come on then, Misty!” He took off toward the smoke and a break in the fence line.

***
“Fire’s out?” She wanted him to confirm what she saw with her own eyes after they’d beaten back the blaze with her towels.

“Yep. Looks good.” He scuffed his boots across the crusty grass. “Can’t thank you enough. If you hadn’t come along when you did—”

“You’d have thought of something.” She interrupted to keep him from saying another word. His melodic voice with the deep Texas drawl couldn’t help but put her in mind of hot sweaty bodies sliding across cool satin sheets.

“I needed a miracle and prayed for one the minute I saw the fire.” He walked over to her. “I heard my answer in your car coming down the highway. I headed back to the road, running flat out. And there you were in your pure white SUV, looking so cool and unafraid of the wild man pounding on your window. You had a miracle in your car. Towels. Not many people would have had them just waiting on a backseat.”

She didn’t feel so cool and unafraid. Still, his words made her thankful that she’d been able to help. “Like I said, I always do. Just in case.”

He clasped both towels in one hand, and held out the other. “Thank you. You’re my Christmas angel.”

Book #1 in Smokin’ Hot Cowboys
Warm up this Christmas with a sexy cowboy firefighter who knows how to ignite flames as well as put them out...
Trey Duval is a rancher, proud as can be of his Wildcat Ranch. He's also the top volunteer firefighter of Wildcat Bluff, Texas, the town that pulls out all the stops for its Christmas festivities.
City girl Misty Reynolds comes to Wildcat Bluff just in time to help Trey put out a suspicious fire, leading him to dub her his "Christmas angel." Unfortunately, Misty's past has left her with terrible memories of fire, and of Christmastime.
As the two are thrown together again and again, Trey finds himself wanting Misty more and more as they troubleshoot dangerous local Christmas tree fires. Though their trust grows slowly, their passion for each other is burning hot...

What people are saying about A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas:

"The attraction between Trey and Misty is instant, scorching, and flavored with just a hint of sweet innocence. Add in the distilled essence of a perfect small town, and this tale will melt even the iciest heart."
- Publishers Weekly STARRED Review.

"Redford's novel is a fun, sexy read, one that is perfect for the upcoming holiday season." - RT Book Reviews

"With its vividly written firefighting scenes, rich cast of characters and folksy charm, A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas will keep you warm and toasty and entertained in a big - and I mean Texas big - way." - USA Today Happily Ever After

"A COWBOY FIREFIGHTER FOR CHRISTMAS is the first book in the Smokin' Hot Cowboys series by the talented storyteller, Kim Redford. This very hot and passionate love story has everything: excitement, hot sex and suspense . . . entertaining and emotional tale that is sure to delight the reader" - Fresh Fiction



Kim Redford is an acclaimed, bestselling author of Western romance novels. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos for inspiration. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at  Kim Redford.