Book Lover Problems

On this Fabulous Friday, I thought I would leave you all with this fun video from BuzzFeed. I think we can all relate to these, right?

Problems Only Book Lovers Understand

What is a reader problem you can think of not mentioned in the video?

Posted in Amy R's Posts | 7 Comments

Milestones

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

My daughter finished primary school today and from next year she’ll be in high school. There was a graduation ceremony, which was so wonderful, and I saw not only her but all her friends all grown up in their smart clothes ready to go out to lunch with their teachers.

Her school principal gave a really wonderful speech, low-key but powerful, sincere and genuine. He said live like you may die tomorrow, but learn like you’ll live forever. Seize the opportunities that come your way by asking yourself, if everyone does what I’m thinking of doing, would it make the world a better or a worse place.

This is a milestone in my daughter’s life, but it is also one in mine. My baby is growing up and on her road to independence.

When I look back on my career as a writer, I realise I sometimes don’t reflect enough on how far I’ve come. My husband, probably because he is a step removed, is better at pointing out my writing milestones than I am.

I think it’s worth celebrating milestones, or, if we miss seeing one for what it is, that we at least take some time to think back on them and realise what it was we did.

Do you try to celebrate the milestones in your life?

(PS: Special price alert – My historical novel, Daughter of the Sky, is on sale for a few weeks, down to 99c, just in time for the holidays.)

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 5 Comments

Remembering to enjoy the season

Christmas is next week. Ach!

Are you ready? I’m ready but I’m not ready, know what I mean? The tree is up, the gifts are mostly bought, and I’ve been baking cookies and breads for our family and to give to neighbors and friends. Yet, somehow, even though the stores and media have been cramming the holidays down my throat since before Halloween, I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already.

Part of it is because I need to slow down and savor the good times. I want to enjoy the season, make lasting memories, and have fun. It’s been a great year and I’m sad to see it end.

It’s not easy to enjoy the season when you’re trying to balance regular, everyday life with all the commitments this time of year brings. I’m learning to say no to those things I really don’t want to do or the commitments our family has outgrown. It’s not personal. It’s self-care!

So here’s to the holidays. I’ve gathered a couple of things to remind us to slow down, reach out, and enjoy our lives as we say goodbye to 2014!

8ef9f40643c16049f9ea8ef60b30ceb1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
10653307_439019436252891_5869303495236430199_n
c8127968079a6deea834b3994205b441

 

 

 

Posted in Holiday Posts, Misty's Posts | Tagged | 9 Comments

Beginnings

Last Friday, I started to read a romantic suspense book by a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author, and on the third page, two different brands of designer shoes were mentioned.

Eyes to the soul R1.3The first mention was irritating. The second mention had me closing the book. I don’t care about designer shoes, and characters who wear them aren’t interesting to me. If the beginning had been more compelling then I might have read on, but it was a later book in a series (I think the 8th), and in these first few pages the characters were talking about people from previous books. It’s a popular series, but I haven’t read the previous books. I’d picked it up at the library, knowing it wasn’t the first but willing to give it a try. But even if I had read the other books in the series, that uninteresting beginning would very likely have made me set the book down.

I recently critiqued Eyes to the Soul by Dale Mayer, book #7 of her Psychic Visions series, which is on pre-order right now. The blind heroine is in danger on the first page, and that’s how to hook me into a book.

Here are the first five paragraphs from Black Widow, the 12th Elemental Assassins book by Jennifer Estep:

It was torture.

Black-WidowWatching your mortal enemy get everything she’d ever wanted was torture, pure and simple.

Madeline Magda Monroe stood off to one side of a wooden podium, her hands clasped in front of her strong, slender body and a serious, thoughtful expression on her beautiful face. Next to her, a city official sporting a brown plaid jacket and a gray handlebar mustache droned on and on and on about all the good things that her mother, Mab Monroe, had done for Ashland.

Please. The only good thing Mab had ever done in her entire life was die. Something that I’d been all too happy to help her with.

Then again, that’s what assassins did, and I was the Spider, one of the best.

Every sentence is fascinating, and the writing compels the reader to keep turning the pages. This is how a book should start, no matter if it’s the first or twentieth book in a series.

Last week, I read two books from Kristan Higgins’ Blue Heron series without first checking to see what order they came in. After I started the first book, I didn’t even consider putting it down to see if the other one had been published first. As it turned out, the second was was published earlier, but it didn’t matter. I was enjoying the book too much to switch.

That’s what I want in a book. And if the author needs to mention the brand of the shoes the heroine wears, well, if you’ve hooked me by this time, then I won’t put the book down.

What are your pet peeves that make you stop reading a book?

Posted in Edie's Posts | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Stefan’s story – Eyes to the Soul is up for pre-order!

Hi everyone,

This story has a been a long time coming. Stefan Kronos first appeared in Tuesday’s Child, book 1 of the  Psychic Vision series, and in every story after that. Now I have finally written his story. And found it a difficult thing to do. I knew the character quite well having written about him in six books already. Yet it was a challenge to write his story. Why? Because it was hard to find his true partner. Hard to do justice to this incredible male that was such a mix of skills and personalities. And even harder to get so deep inside his layers of complexities.

That’s when I realized that I knew him, but I didn’t know him. Still handicapped by fear that I couldn’t do justice to his story, I spent weeks and months with a weak start and an inability to move forward – until I spent more time with Stefan. That helped me to write his story. And by learning his early story, I finally connected to her story – Stefan’s love interest.

At that point I could move forward. Thankfully! I hope you all enjoy his story. Although this is the 7th in the series, it’s not the last. I’ve already got an idea for book 8! :)

Eyes to the soul R1.3Just because a person can see – doesn’t mean they should look.

Celina Wilton was technically blind, a state she wasn’t very happy about. In her case, the alternative was worse. So she’d learn to adapt, one way or another.

Stefan Kronos has wanted to get close to Celina for a long time, but she has walls that he’s been forced to go around in some unusual ways. When a case he’s been called to consult on puts her square in his radar, he has to watch his step…and hers.
Unraveling the threads twisting between them and a killer like none Stefan had seen before, means Celina has to trust him enough to let him inside her barriers.
That’s when Stefan realizes he’s not the only with eyes into her soul.

Eyes to the Soul is available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes now! It will be on other venues soon!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A Pearl for Your Fantasy

photo credit: the green gables via photopin cc

photo credit: the green gables via photopin cc

You’ve won a million dollars! Ever wonder what you’d do? Would you buy a sexy negligee or a Maserati? Take an island cruise? Make a loan to a favorite relative?

One of the questions authors are asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Well, by asking what if.

That million bucks (or quid or gold bars) that’s now yours–what else would happen? Every investment broker on the planet would call you. Empty hands would thrust toward you (it’s all fun and games until someone’s eye gets poked out). The one relative you can’t stand would demand the biggest handout (but you could flip him a finger communication. Go ahead. Hey, it’s your fantasy).

Take one thing, just one, and change it. That is the seed of world-building. The grit to the pearl. Take the world you know, plus one what if. What if I won that million? What if my job were perfect? What if people lived forever (including your in-laws)?

photo credit: seasonal wanderer via photopin cc

photo credit: seasonal wanderer via photopin cc

What one thing would you change? Let’s try—what if magic existed? Imagine cleaning with the snap of a finger, everything you want free! Wouldn’t life be grand?

Well, no. Remember, we only get to change one thing in our fantasy world. Basic human nature doesn’t change. People are still good and bad and just plain silly.

Should you invent language? Let’s take our magic example. Every culture has a way people get extra energy. Tea, coffee. Coke, both the legal and illegal kind. Kaffey’s been overdone (IMHO) but you’d need to name the substance people use to jolt up the magic. MagiCoke? Maybe that’s illegal too, so you’d have MagiCoke pushers. Assign a shorthand. Call them Mushers…or Pushcokers…well, maybe not. But you get the idea.

Take one thing, and change it. Like a pearl, your world will soon grow!

Let’s get to know each other! In my first year as a Magical Musings blogger, I’m exploring my 10 favorite things. This is number four.

What one thing would you change, and how would it affect your hero/heroine’s life?

SwedishCoffeeBreadA holiday gift for you!
Aunt Aina’s Swedish Coffee Bread

My husband’s family recipe. Every year we enjoy kneading, braiding, and smelling the buttery baked goodness of this holiday treat! Pretty enough to give as a gift. Tasty, especially warm from the oven with butter and coffee.

Ingredients:

2 c. milk
1 c. butter
1 cake yeast or equivalent (I use just over a tsp of dry yeast)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt (I cut this back a bit, especially with salted butter)
15-20 shelled cardamom seeds, or 1 tsp ground cardamom
7-8 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375º.

  1. Scald milk and cool to lukewarm.
  2. Make a sponge of ~2 c. flour, salt, yeast and milk. This should clean the bowl, not stick to it. Cover loosely and let double.
  3. Cream butter, egg, sugar and cardamom until fluffy.
  4. Add creamed mixture to risen sponge and work through until smooth.
  5. Add flour by ½ cupfuls until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
  6. Divide dough for loaves. Two portions make larger loaves, eight portions are good for individual loaves as small gifts.
  7. Braid loaves and put on non-stick baking pans or sheets. Cover and rise until doubled in size.
  8. Bake at 375º until nicely browned on top.

Top can be brushed with egg white and sprinkled with sugar pearls prior to baking.

This recipe comes from Sweden and is very old. Consequently, I make some changes in deference to modern ingredients. For instance, with pasteurizing, I no longer scald the milk, but use the microwave to bring it to a temperature for adding yeast. 

A note on cardamom–it’s kind of hard to find. Generally a small container, a half ounce or so, is sufficient for a year’s holiday baking. I understand, although haven’t tried, that adding some cardamom to coffee grounds prior to perking makes a nice nutty addition to the coffee.

Posted in Mary's Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

My Love For December… Not

I hope you don’t think this makes me a Scrooge, because I’m really not. I love giving gifts during the holidays. I love baking my family’s favorite cookies. I enjoy the cooler weather and snuggling under a blanket to read a book. I love all the decorations and meeting friends for a coffee and chat.

But… it’s also the last month of the year and well, I always feel a little weird about one year ending and the next one beginning. The passage of time is something I struggle with a bit. I think it’s the whole my kids are getting older and I’m not getting any younger thing. As with every year, there are highs and there are lows. This year, though, brought so many amazing blessings, that maybe that’s why I’m a little more wistful to see 2014 come to a close.

So let’s make a list. Here are the things I’ll remember most about 2014 and I’d love for you to share some of the highlights from your year in the comments!

  1. I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. It hasn’t always been easy, but there’s no one else in the world I want to be on life’s journey with. My hubby is the best man I know and I’m so lucky to have him.
  2. I got a new day job. It’s more hours than my old one, but I love it and love the people I work with.
  3. I had three books release!
  4. Kissing the Maid of Honor hit the USA Today Bestsellers List.
  5. Her Accidental Boyfriend was nominated for a RITA. And what made this even more special was two of my dearest friends were also nominated (in different categories) and sharing the conference and Awards Night with them was beyond wonderful.IMG_0965
  6. My older son, who’s graduating from college in June, accepted an amazing job offer that starts next summer, and he’s so, so happy. Being a mom has been the hardest thing I’ve done. I can’t tell you how many doubts and worries I’ve had. Am I saying the right thing? Doing the right thing? I’m feeling really good about all that right now. LOL My hubby and I couldn’t be prouder. One son down, one to go!
  7. Last Friday I made my first jump. Out of an airplane! It was awesome!!! I skydived with my mom for her birthday and we had the best day ever. She rocked it like a woman half her age! I loved it so much I’m definitely going to do it again. (Mom says once is enough.)
  8. I got to spend time with readers and writers – both online and off, be there for milestones in my non-writer friends’ lives, and spend time with family from near and far. I’m so grateful to all of you for making my days brighter.

Have a wonderful rest of the year! Happy Holidays and… th-1

See you in 2015!

Posted in Robin's Posts | 13 Comments

Review: Marked by the Vampire by Cynthia Eden

marked by the vampireTitle: Marked By The Vampire (Purgatory, #2)

Author: Cynthia Eden
Release Date: June 9, 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble

Book Summary:

Vampires exist. So do werewolves. The creatures that you fear in the darkness? They’re all real. And the baddest of the paranormals…those who love to hurt humans…they’re sent to Purgatory, the only paranormal prison in the U.S.

His job is to stop the monsters.

Deadly forces are at work within Purgatory. The monsters are joining together—and their plans have to be stopped. FBI Agent Shane August, a very powerful vampire with a dark past, is sent into the prison on an undercover assignment. His job is to infiltrate the vampire clan, by any means necessary.

She wants to help the prisoners.

Dr. Olivia Maddox wants to find out just why certain paranormals go bad. What pushes some vampires over the edge? Why do some werewolves turn so savage? If she can understand the monsters, then Olivia thinks she can help them. When she gets permission to enter Purgatory, Olivia believes she is being given the research opportunity of a lifetime.

Olivia doesn’t realize that she’s walking straight into hell.

To survive, they have to rely on each other.

When the prisoners break loose, there is only one person—one vampire—who can protect her, but as Olivia and Shane fight the enemies that surround them, a dark and dangerous passion stirs to life between the doctor and the vamp. Shane realizes that Olivia is a woman carrying secrets—powerful, sinful secrets. Secrets that a man would kill to possess.

And Olivia realizes that—sometimes—you can’t control the beast inside of you. No matter how hard you try. Some passions can push you to the very limits of your control…and the growing lust that she feels for her vampire…it’s sending her racing right into a deadly storm of desire.

Welcome to Purgatory…a place that’s a real hell on earth…

My Thoughts:

Marked By The Vampire by Cynthia Eden is paranormal romance with intense action and raw passion. You don’t want to miss it! I can typically write a review right after I finish a book but I had to let this settle for a few days. It had me so twisted up I couldn’t form the words I wanted to say about it! This is a book that you cannot put down. Cynthia writes in a way that there are no breaks in the story, so you can’t just get to a low point and put it down. If there is not an action scene happening between the character there is a relationship developing between Shane and Olivia.

Marked By The Vampire is the second book in the Purgatory series and even better than the first. Cynthia is extremely talented at coming up with new and fascinating plots for her books and that is what keeps me coming back to her stories. We get to meet Shane, an undercover FBI agent in the Para Unit who also happens to be a vampire. He is sent to Purgatory to see what’s going on down there because something isn’t right. Olivia is a Psychologist and is drawn to Purgatory because she wants to understand why paranormals act on their evil instincts and how she can help them control those instincts. Things don’t go so well for either Shane or Olivia in Purgatory.

The character development is fantastic in Marked By The Vampire. I loved how Shane and Olivia’s relationship played out because you never quite knew if their physical attraction to one another was real or if they were controlling each other with some mind control/magic. The pull was just too great to ignore, though. Even though it may have been raw to begin with, you could still feel the underlying passion and trust between the two main characters. You felt hope that it was going to work out and Cynthia did not disappoint. Of course the intimacy was very dramatic and hot. Makes me want to be bitten by a vampire just to feel what Olivia felt. ;-)

The appearance of Duncan and Holly from the first book, The Wolf Within, was a welcome addition to the story. I love a series because you don’t have to let go the characters you loved from previous books. I really can’t say enough good things about Marked By The Vampire. If you like paranormal romance filled with suspense and passion, you need to read this book.

Reviewed by: Amy R.

Five stars

Posted in Paranormal Romance, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Designed for Love by Kelsey Browning

DesignedForLoveCover-Smaller-252x400Title: Designed for Love (Texas Nights #4)
by: Kelsey Browning
Release Date: November 24th, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 4 stars

Book Summary:

Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.

That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.

Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.

My Thoughts:

What sexy, southern fun! Designed for Love has the perfect recipe for a spicy and sweet romance: hot chemistry between our main characters, a southern backdrop and a great balance of sassy and heartfelt.

I loved Ashton’s story arc. She showed up with the trappings of a Texas debutante and proved everyone wrong. It was refreshing to see a female character that is determined to do things on her own. She was not the damsel in distress character that is a familiar trope in contemporary romance. Even when things seemed like they were falling apart, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps, and who doesn’t love a strong female heroine! Don’t get me wrong..there’s no story without conflict, but I loved Ashton’s tenacity and her connection with her SUPER sassy grandmother, Gigi.

Mac, was the perfect counter to Ashton. Strong and masculine, but with a soft side. His storyline also proved to have depth and definitely added to the layers of his relationship with Ashton. Also, can anyone resist bicep hugging flannel?

Their relationship moved at a slower than normal pace than I am used to in romance novels. Which is NOT a bad thing. The sexual tension was palpable and made for some majorly steamy scenes. There’s one particular scene that sticks in my mind that actually takes place in Lily Lake that I think every reader will enjoy. Wink Wink.

Besides the obvious chemistry, Designed for Love has a great storyline. Ashton decides to leave big money behind in Dallas to make it on her own and ends up running a huge project. Which proves to be an undertaking that she doesn’t even know if she can handle. All while toting around her hilarious and naughty shih-poo mix, Napoleon. I absolutely adored the scenes with Napoleon, Ashton and Mac. Let’s just say he gets in a lot of trouble, and it is very fun to read!

Even though this is the 4th in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. But, after you read this I am betting you will be coming back for more. Hopefully, we get to see what is in the future for Mac and Ashton!

Reviewed by: Chelsea

Four stars

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Worth Doing

penpaperI’ve always been suspicious of things that come too easily. It’s probably the way I was brought up. My grandparents from both sides were Scottish and had that dour Methodist philosophy of hard work and a slightly guilty conscience if you ever got too comfortable. I remember watching Scottish stand up comedian Billy Connolly once make a joke about the Scots eating breakfast standing up, just so that they don’t get too comfortable, and literally crying with laughter, because I remember breakfast at my grandparents house so well.

On the radio a couple of days ago, I was listening to an interviewer talking to the lead actor James Nesbitt from the new British TV drama Missing on the complexities of the show, and how it goes to hard places and doesn’t flinch away. He asked Nesbitt if playing the main character, the flawed, deeply troubled father of a son who has gone missing, was difficult, and Nesbitt said yes, of course it was difficult, but the difficulty was also the privilege and I had one of those “YES” moments, where the way I thought accorded perfectly with someone elses.

Because I have to be honest, I find writing very hard work. I find telling stories the way I want to tell them, and adding the meaning I want to them, and exploring the characters the way I think they should be explored, to be the hardest job I’ve ever had. Dorothy Parker’s quote

‘I hate writing. I love having written.’

Has always struck somewhat of a cord with me. I don’t hate writing, but sometimes I do, just a little bit. I don’t whine about it, ever, though, because just as James Nesbitt says, I think the difficult is part of the privilege. It is hard because it’s worth doing, and not much that is really worth doing comes easy.

There are plenty of other things that are worth doing that aren’t easy. Raising children. Holding firm to your principles. A thousand other things.

What hard things do you think are worth doing?

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 6 Comments