Friday, June 29, 2012

The Great Outdoors - On My Doorstep

By Glenys O'Connell

Some people might think it's tame, but it's been a long road to find my own Great Outdoors - and now I live surrounded by it.  I grew up country, and something in my heart always knew I'd return to my roots - even though Ontario is 3000 miles from my British hometown.

Right outside my door, there's a wealth of wildlife living in swampland - usually small and friendly, but there are moose, bear, deer, raccons, fishers, coyotes.... Fortunately, they're pretty shy, so mostly on my walks I make do with the pretty buttertflies, snakes, turtles, wild turkeys and other birds.

My Great Outdoors has its own secret places, perfect for a writer.

And there's always a welcoming friend on the doorstep

And a pretty spot to relax with a friend after a gruelling chapter.....

 So, while my great outdoors be very tame by comparison to the vast wildernesses my fellow Roses enjoy, it's plenty wild enough for me these days. After all, even a wondering writer has to settle down sometime, right?

Glenys O'Connell has been lured out of her retreat to celebrate the release of her new book, Naked Writing:The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, (see here on or here on  which is the result of nine years teaching creative writing. The ebook version is a bestseller in in the Kindle Top 100 Books on Writing.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Rosemary Gemmell Has An Excuse for Research

I’m sure I won’t be the only writer who loves to visit new places as a thinly veiled excuse for researching ideas and settings. What better way to get a feel for a country or historical setting than to go there in person. We can never truly know what it was like to live in any particular era apart from our own, as “the past is a foreign country” according to L.P. Hartley. So we thoroughly research our period and try to depict the setting, background and everyday life as accurately as possible. Here in Scotland, we have a wealth of history on our doorstep so it makes sense to explore as many of the ancient buildings that fit the period in which our stories take place, or that might inspire a different era.

One of my favourite buildings is Pollok House in Glasgow which lies within Pollok Park. The House dates from about 1750 and is a fine example of Georgian architecture. Although now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, it was the ancestral home of the Maxwell family who had links to the original grounds for 700 years. The old Servants’ Quarters in the basement now houses a shop and Kitchen Restaurant. The inside of the house is gracious and almost homely, although it does have a magnificent collection of art, including famous Spanish works by Goya and El Greco.

The White Cart Water runs through the estate and is spanned by an 18th century bridge not far from the house. I always imagine graceful Georgian people wandering around the beautiful grounds. On some days, visitors can see the working Clydesdale Horses, and nearby is a field of Highland cattle. All within easy reach of the centre of Glasgow.

Another favourite place is Inchmahome Priory, ruins situated on a very small island off the Port of Menteith. Established in 1238, on the site of a previous church, the Priory was a haven of peace and spirituality with its community of Augustinians, parishioners and visitors. But like most of Scotland and England in the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation intervened and this gentle way of life came to an end. The monastic church and cloisters are mostly in ruins, although there is still a sense of how they must have appeared when complete.

After becoming a mausoleum in the 1600s, the small Chapter House lay complete and now houses some of the carved stones from the priory. The striking effigy of Walter Stewart who died in 1295, and his wife, Mary, lie almost entwined together for all eternity. There is also an effigy of an armed knight and a 14th century gravestone. It’s not difficult to sit on the cold benches and imagine the Augustinian brothers discussing the day’s business.

One of the most famous visitors to the island was the child, Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed at Inchmahome Priory for three weeks in 1547. The only reminder of her time is a bower of boxwood trees to commemorate her visit. The island is a very peaceful little oasis only seven minutes by small boat from the mainland.

These are only two of the many historical places that never fail to inspire me. The only problem now is finding time to turn the inspiring research into stories. And those are just the places within reasonable driving distance of home. Next stop during the summer is several parts of Europe, including my favourite Venice. Somehow I don’t think the tax man will believe it’s all for research!

Rosemary Gemmell

Dangerous Deceit, Regency intrigue in England, 1813, is available from Champagne Books in ebook and print, and from Amazon (UK) and (US)

Blurb for Dangerous Deceit

Spirited Lydia Hetherington is uninterested in marriage, until her brother's friend, Lord Marcus Sheldon, rides into her life to unseat her from her horse and unsettle her heart. An undercover spy for the government, Sheldon is equally unsettled by Lydia. But spies, villains and a tangled web of deception bring danger, until a traitor is unmasked.

Complicated by a French spy, her best friend's unrequited love for Lydia's brother, James, and a traitorous villain, Lydia gradually finds her emotions stirred by Lord Sheldon. But what is his relationship with the beautiful Lady Smythe and his part in an old scandal?


“I believe you have lost something, Miss Hetherington.”

Lydia’s eyes widened as she watched Lord Sheldon lazily hold out his hand. He was holding a gold ribbon such as Agnes had threaded in her hair earlier that evening! She put her hand to her head and realized, belatedly, that her hair had started to come undone at the back. The ribbon must have caught on the bush where she’d hidden. She couldn’t think what to say for a moment until she saw the challenge in his stare.

“I fear you must be following me, my lord. I was unaware that the ribbon had come loose as I took a turn around the garden. I wonder that you should know to whom it belongs.” She held out her hand. “Thank you for returning it.”

She saw his shoulders stiffen and was sure he knew perfectly well she’d seen him with the Frenchman.

Then Lydia saw the speculation in his grey eyes replaced by amusement as he walked towards her. “Allow me, Miss Hetherington.”

Before she guessed what he intended, his hands were on her upper arms and for a moment he looked into her eyes. Then he gently turned her away from him. Next minute, he was expertly threading the ribbon through her hair.

Lydia held her breath as she felt his fingers brush against her head. It was as if something made her skin tingle. Too soon, he had secured the ribbon. Yet still his fingers lingered for a moment against her hair and she hoped he could not hear the loud beating of her heart.

She tried to persuade herself it was only because of her near discovery at eavesdropping. But she was far too aware of the nearness of his tall frame and the intimacy of the moment, and most especially the effect it was having on her.

Then he was turning her around once more to face him. He stepped back at once and bowed. “I trust you will be more careful where you walk in future, Miss Hetherington.”

Hoping she appeared more composed than she felt, Lydia replied as firmly as possible. “Thank you, my lord. It is my good fortune that you are so comfortable with a lady’s hair style and so solicitous of my well being.”

Lydia returned his stare, determined not to betray how bereft she’d felt as he stepped away from her. There was no doubt that he’d seen her in the garden and was warning her. But against what, she wondered.

Rosemary Gemmell Short Bio

Rosemary Gemmell’s short stories and articles are published in UK magazines, in the US, and Online, and her children’s stories are in three different anthologies. A few short stories have been included in various international anthologies. She has won several competitions and has adjudicated short stories at the annual Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Her first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, set in Regency England, was published by Champagne Books in May 2011 (as Romy). Her first tween novel, Summer of the Eagles, which is set in Scotland, was published by MuseItUp Publishing in March 2012 (as Ros).

General writing/information blog:

Romancing History blog:

Children’s writing blog:

Twitter: @rosemarygemmell

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Would A Rose Soften Your Heart? -- Vonnie Davis

I love roses. Their heady smell. The velvety texture of their petals. Their beauty in all stages of bloom. One day Calvin carried home a pot of pink tulips. "Angel, I remembered you like pink roses so I got these for you." He was so pleased with himself...and I was more than pleased with his thoughtfulness. So what if it was the wrong flower. He'd made the purchase with his heart. Isn't that what every woman wants? To be uppermost in our man's thoughts?

Roses play a part in my release from The Wild Rose Press, Those Violet Eyes. Part of the Honky Tonk Hearts seires, it releases today. Evie, my heroine, has been driving an old clunker with doors that won't open and a driver's side window that won't close. She gets in and out by shimmying through the open window. One night after working as a waitress at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, she comes out to find her car's battery is dead. Win, my hero, offers to put in another battery. The next day, her brother drives her to work where she has several pleasant surprises waiting on her --

Getting Dooley to drive her to work was no problem for Evie. The man loved any excuse to go to the Lonesome Steer—or any bar, for that matter.
“See if your car starts, Evie, while I go in and say ‘hi’ to everyone.”
“Don’t forget the evening chores.” No doubt he already had.
“Yeah, yeah.” He all but ran into the honky tonk.
Evie stepped to her car and noticed the windows were wound up. Her stomach dropped. Who would have done such a trick? How would she get inside the car? Wait. Whoever wound them up had to open the doors. Doors jammed tighter than Sam Houston’s tomb for months now.
She reached for the handle and breathed a sigh of relief when the door opened, slick as anything. She closed it. Opened it. Closed it. A smile blossomed for the first time that day. Who fixed my doors? She opened the door again and turned the handle for the window. It worked perfectly. How wonderful. No more riding in the rain with the window down.
Had Win done this? Had to be him. Who else would have?
Evie sat in the seat, turned her key and the engine sprung to life. Oh, Win, thank you.
That’s when she noticed the yellow rose bud. One single yellow rose in a little vial of water lay on her dashboard. She reached for it and fingered the velvety petals. No one had ever given her flowers before. A lone tear plopped onto the blossom. Win thought enough of her to fix her car and give her a rose. What was she to make of this? Of him?
Kenny Chesney was singing from the jukebox about a sexy woman in his life when Evie stepped inside the honky tonk. She waved to Keira and Gus and headed straight for Win.
When she stepped into the kitchen, she closed the swinging door as quiet as she could. She wanted just a minute; just a minute to look at the macho-Marine with the caring heart. He’d given her a rose. What man would think of placing a rosebud on a woman’s dash? None that she knew of, that’s for sure. Yet he had. He’d also installed a new battery and fixed her windows and doors. She hadn’t asked for his help. This giant of a man had given it freely. Was his heart that generous?
Win’s back was to her as he chopped vegetables. Muscles played under his tight T-shirt. His biceps were huge. How would it feel to be enveloped in the warmth and strength of his strong body?
As if he sensed her presence, his head rose and he slowly turned toward her.
Suddenly nervous at being caught studying him—hoping she hadn’t been drooling—she cleared her throat. “Hi.”
He nodded once in greeting.
“Ah…thank you. My car starts right up.” She stepped further into his domain, her heart pounding in her ears and her stomach doing that twitchy thing it always did around him. “The car doors work now, too.”
Win stood there, silent and waiting. No emotion showed on his stony features. His hazel eyes regarded her as she moved to stand beside him. Lord, but the man resembled a wall of muscle.
She caught herself chewing on her bottom lip and stopped. “It’ll be nice to wind my windows up. Last week a bird flew in the car, and I ran down a mailbox trying to get it out.”
Her remark cracked his austere face. His lips twitched and his eyes turned soft, almost affectionate. Then he shook his head as if he didn’t know whether to believe her or not. “There’s no one like you, Evie.”

Evie Caldwell hoards every penny for her escape from the servitude life created by a worthless brother and the endless work on a ranch that will never be hers. The last thing she wants is a muscled man with a macho Marine attitude complicating her life. But, oh, how that man can make her insides do a twitchy thing.

Wounded vet, Win Fairchild, returns to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul and open a ranch for amputee children. Finding someone to love was not on his agenda. Nor was dealing with a wildcat, until she captures his heart with those violet eyes.

But now that he knows what he wants, can Win convince Evie to stay in Texas—and his bed?

The Great Outdoors ... modified

Laura's post about the BWCAW reminded me of the many trips we've taken to that neck of the woods. Every year the Hub and I go North to Lake Vermillion, which is on the BWCAW border. We rent a cabin and do some hiking, do some sightseeing, some sleeping, napping...

When I say "cabin", this is really a misnomer. It's a Nice Cabin. Hot tub, fireplace, big kitchen, gorgeous sunsets on the lake. We've been doing this for about 15 years now, going to the same resort and usually renting the same cabin. This year we're shaking it up and trying a different cabin on the same shoreline -- the resort is situated on an island and we always get a cabin on the far peninsula, so we have no neighbors except the moose and occasional mink or badger who hang out in the nearby bay.

We invited friends to join us for a day or two UP There, but when we tried to explain why we love it so much, words failed (I know. I'm a writer. Words failed?) Our friends like to go on cruises in Europe and the Caribbean and when I explained that we just sort of hang out, go shopping in Ely (population very small), hike out to a small waterfall ... our friends looked flummoxed. They're accustomed to being on a ship, traveling, docking, doing an excursion, then hopping back and moving on.

It's interesting, isn't it? The idea of cruise doesn't really appeal to me. And the idea of a cabin weekend does not appeal to them. And yet, if you had asked me, I would say that in 99% of everything else we are the same. We grew up together, we went to high school together, we have the same likes in music, etc. But when it comes to relaxation ... totally different. And you know what's even more interesting? I was talking to a salesman about where we go (on Vermillion) and he said, "man, that's a great spot, isn't it? I love to go hiking at ..." and we were off and away, discussing our favorite trails, etc. A total stranger and BAM, we know each other.

What a varied and interesting world we live in ...


P.S. If you want a taste of the resort where we go every year, check out Mayhem, Marriage, and Murderous Mystery Manuscripts. I set it at the cabin where we stay. I also dedicated it to the resort owners.  ☺

Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Alana Lorens is a Complicated Woman

Give me a complicated woman any time…

By Alana Lorens

I was reading the post this past week by Jannine Gallant about older heroines, and it set me thinking. I mean, I like to write stories about older heroines, especially because I’m not a spring chicken myself any more.

But what strikes me as most obvious is that we can’t expect that women of a certain age, although they certainly deserve love as much as anyone, will find it in the same way as someone just out of high school. Pop culture tends to glorify drinking and partying till participants aren’t really sure exactly who they’ve slept with or the seriousness of sex in the course of a sincere relationship (cite, for example, Katy Perry or Ke$ha, Rihanna and others).

Older women aren’t really interested in such behavior. They have different needs and different standards and are often in a very different place in their life than a 20-something. They may be financially secure and be looking just for someone to spend time with now and again. They may be desperately lonely and ready to take whoever shows up. All these motivations need to be taken into consideration by the author.

Women who have been through a bad break-up are often cautious about beginning again, not ready to hop into bed with the next Jason, Richard or Jean-Claude at first meeting. She may have had a wonderful husband, and be reluctant to replace those memories with someone’s warm arms to hold her. So these stories tend to be written with a little more character development—the reader wants to believe that the heroine really wants to be with the man of her dreams, and can tell if it happens too fast or too unbelievably.

This is where an author often runs into a conundrum. If we’re writing a romantic story, we naturally think it’s a romance. But editors look at the pacing and motivation of the story. A “romance” is often more superficial, dealing with the surface passions and emotions. A lonely woman finds a lonely man and they find they click sexually, healing them both. Historical romances or romantic suspense adds another layer of depth, as the characters are constrained by the intricacies of the plot to withhold their final satisfaction and love.

I’ve found that no matter how romantic the story, if the heroine has serious life lessons to learn, and a complicated path before she can allow herself to accept love, the author is often angling in the direction of women’s fiction. Women’s fiction does more to explore the development of your characters, watching them grow into whole people before they can fall in love with the person who’s waiting for them. Personally I find it more interesting both to write and to read. But that’s what’s nice about this field: there’s room for both schools of thought.


One romantic suspense, one women’s fiction novel, both with heroines who’ve seen some mileage but still have plenty of heat left in the engine.

CONVICTION OF THE HEART (The Wild Rose Press, release date June 8, 2012)

And SECOND CHANCES (Zumaya Publications, release date July 4, 2012)

The first and Second books of the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer Series!

Come by the following blogs or live booksignings ON THE SCHEDULED DATES and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing—at the end of the tour, Alana will give away one ebook copy of each book and one paperback copy of each book—Four lucky winners!

The whole list of blog appearances is found at --and this post is one of them. Leave a comment and take your chances of winning one of these books.

SECOND CHANCES: After ten years as an associate at a small Pittsburgh law firm, Inessa Regan gets a pink slip when the economy tanks. She’s never worked anywhere else, and her divorce many years before has left her insecure on her own. Her pride wounded, she flounders helplessly until her neighbor brings her a potential client, Kurtis Lowdon, a man 15 years younger than she, an Iraq War veteran with cancer.

Kurt helps her take the first steps back from the pit of despair, as she realizes that she hasn’t lost everything. She still has her legal skills, which she uses to draft Kurt’s living will and other papers. He offers her some rental space in the office from which he runs a small security business on the east side of the city; she reluctantly agrees.

At first, she’s obsessed with making money, wanting to feel secure, but as she and Kurt come to know each other and spend time together, she learns that money isn’t all she needs to feel fulfilled. Grateful for his intervention, she strives to repay his generosity by helping take care of him while he struggles with his cancer treatment and recovery. First as her client, then as her landlord, then as her partner, Kurt shows her the power of believing in oneself.

Their journey together is threatened by her struggle to become independent as well as by secrets from Kurt’s own past. Post-traumatic horrors of war have followed Kurt and his friends home from overseas and haunt their very steps. When Kurt’s cancer returns, she must realize that no matter how hard she holds on the the quickly-shredding edges of her life she could still lose it all. Can the lessons he’s taught her keep her strong enough to survive? How much will she risk to save him?

Here’s the book trailer for SECOND CHANCES:

CONVICTION OF THE HEART: Romantic suspense novel CONVICTION OF THE HEART features attorney Suzanne Taylor, who raised her children as a single mother at the same time she built a successful legal practice. She’s managed to keep herself untangled from romance for many years, putting her kids and their financial security first.

But the case of a city councilman’s battered wife brings her complications in the form of police lieutenant Nick Sansone, whose interest in her comes right when she needs a little help from outside sources. The councilman strikes out at Suzanne, Nick, and eventually, anyone he can think of who might make Suzanne back off.

Will they be able to stave off the danger long enough for their love to blossom?

See the book trailer for this here:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fishing on the Verde River by Brenda Whiteside

The Verde River
Summer is in the air. When we lived in Minnesota that meant only one thing in our household - fishing. Now that we've moved to Arizona, the fishing season just got longer. I will wager you that my husband manages to go fishing every season somewhere.

The hike down
We discovered not too long after we moved to the northern prairies of Arizona that the Verde River starts in our back yard. That is a slight exaggeration but not far from accurate. Across the main road that runs through our speck-on-the-map town is the start of the Verde River. A mile up the road and down another dirt road, we parked and hiked down to the fledgling river one day to fish.

Side note: I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and, as a kid, went tubing on the Verde. Farther west from where we now live our little Verde turns into a regular river.

No fish in this section of the Verde
Back to fishing. I have always enjoyed stream fishing so much more than sitting in a boat on a lake. I really looked forward to this adventure. On this particular day, what we did really can be called fishing. It certainly wasn't catching. My husband had fished another area of the river and caught all kinds of small mouth bass. But this spot, the spot he took me fishing, was a rout. The area is beautiful and secluded. The quiet and the scenery, I enjoyed. Running into a rattlesnake didn't add to my fun. Maybe sitting in a boat fishing is not such a bad idea.

I have a new release on July 4th from The Wild Rose Press:

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about prairie life on her personal blog

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Roses of Prose Member: Margo Hoornstra

Margo Hoornstra
Hello everyone and thank you for inviting me to become a member of The Roses of Prose. First of all, I have to tell you how much I thoroughly enjoyed your A Holiday to Remember free read. Reading the next chapter was the first thing I would do every morning and, though I loved the HEA, I was very disappointed when the story came to an end. It’s going to be fun to be a part of whatever this group thinks to do next.

My personal history in a nutshell is pretty simple. I’m a wife to one; mother to four—seven if you count in-law children which I do—and grandmother to four so far. My work experience includes public relations specialist, magazine editor, television producer, and script and speech writer. I’m also a founding member of Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America. A group I left for a number of years, but more about that later.

I was born and initially raised in a big city in the Midwest. During my lifetime I have moved to progressively smaller towns and, with the kids and grandkids near, now reside in a rural area with my husband, a dog he rescued a while back and any number of critters who call our yard home.

Like many of us who create and market our stories, I figured someday I would write a book. But only when the time was right, which meant after I earned a formal education, launched and sustained a successful and rewarding career, married then raised a family and became financially independent.

The basics of writing for publication were no mystery to me. It’s how my father earned his/our living when I was growing up. While he concentrated on script writing—Manhunt a radio show in Detroit that was the forerunner of a popular police show on television—some of his friends wrote books that were published, one or two even made into movies. I learned the drill of submission, rejection and eventual success at an early age. I guess I just didn’t see myself taking a true run at it, though I did have some short stories and articles published nationally.

But to paraphrase the song lyric, life happened while I was making plans. Proof of the education is in a frame on the wall, the career came and went, the husband is still with me, but the children are grown, and our accumulation of wealth turned out to be—well, you know—not exactly what we had hoped for or expected.

A few years back I came to my senses, rejoined my local RWA chapter and started to seriously pursue publication of contemporary romance. The result is a number of short stories, novellas and a full length novel, so far, published by The Wild Rose Press.

That first story sold was Forgotten Alliance. The novel is Honorable Intentions. Here’s a peek at their covers.


My goal now is for many more to come.

When I was first asked to write this introduction, I brainstormed with my husband for the best way to present myself. His suggestions give some insight into his perspective of what I do. First and foremost, he mentioned pursuing my dream, followed by planting positive memories in people’s minds and providing enjoyment to others through my writing.

Pretty significant stuff, don’t you think? And something all of us as writers, specifically romance authors, strive to do over and over again.

As I said at the beginning, thanks for having me here as a member, working member I understand, of The Roses of Prose. Oh, one more thing. I’m extremely challenged when it comes to the technical aspects of posting and commenting. Please be patient while I learn. And I apologize in advance if, through error or omission, I offend anyone or hurt their feelings.

However, there is hope. Given those limitations, I use the services of My Girl Friday - Virtual Assistant to help me and my web presence look good.

If you’d like to learn more about who I am and what I do, visit
my Website or my Blog.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Peek In My Backyard by Claire Ashgrove

Being outdoors month and all... combined with this crazy RomCon preparation that has chewed away at my creative mind and eaten all my time... I thought I'd stick with super simple and give you a peek at my backyard. 

Many of you know I live on a farm.  When I first bought the property I spent that first evening on a picnic in the grass, looking up at the brightest stars I've ever seen.  At night, the crickets sing like they are in concert.  In the distant, (and sometimes not so distant) tree lines coyotes howl, yip, and play with one another.  The first time I heard young pups playing was an eye-opener.  I've never heard such racket.  Once the sun goes down, we don't get much road traffic, but we can hear the train a good 7 miles away.  Not just the whistle, but the chug-chug of wheels on the track as well.  Occasionally the Air Force Base sends an A-10 or a B-2 on a mission or there's something flying in.  And in between all this, we hear the horses in the pasture.  Nickering now and then, an occasional whinny, and just the quiet hooves walking from one place to another.

The other day I went looking for a screw and encountered this guy:

Okay, maybe not that precise one, but that's a great representation.  He was curled up in a plastic tub, not the least bit bothered by us.  We left him be, and I assume, since I haven't seen any baby pigeons this year, he's still in residence.

Speaking of pigeons -- last spring we found a fledgling on the ground in the same barn.  She now resides in the house.  We hand-fed her, and at night she coos to us.  Very soothing melody.

Right now, we're fascinated by our newest old edition, Baariq.  He's been in a boarding facility for about three years, and we just brought him back home.  This photograph is pretty old; he's grown up a lot since this, filled out into adult form, and follows us around.  He lives in our front yard, because the gentleman beneath him, runs the pasture. (Khemo is a yearling in this photo)


And then, every now and then, we stroll to the far corner where those who've been with us and left us now rest.  It may sound morbid, but really no... it's nice to go back and walk through memories and know our old friends are still nearby.  And that's what makes a house ahome, I think.  The little tidbits of us we leave behind.  Then we can turn around and see their legacy, and everything's a happy place.


Isabella's daughter
We love our piece of the outdoors.  My boys pick flowers as often as they can for Mom (of their own accord!), bring me grasshoppers regularly, caterpillars, beetles, and great big honking clods of mud.  The dogs leave me presents in the yard that, quite often, I don't want to know what they were.  But those little gifts draw visitors like the big old buzzard who perched one morning on the kids' picnic table.  The hawks talk to us, two days ago we saw a golden eagle.  And all around you can hear the echoing chorus of mooo-mooo.   Calves in springtime are such an adorable thing!

On that note, I'm heading out the door and shipping off to RomCon 2012!  Hope I will see some of you there!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

My big mistake by Barbara Edwards

My big mistake is waiting till the last minute to write my post. My brain is drained. My muse is overused.  I wanted to do another camping post but it’s in the high nineties and the last thing I want to do is think about being outside.

Then I thought about weddings, June and all the frilly, fussy details to a June bride’s big event. Oh no. I have friends under crisis as the date for their child’s wedding grows close.

So I could jump to wild-life. Turkey month sounds good, but all I can think about is dark meat on Thanksgiving and the Turkey farm near-by that spray-paints the white birds with pastel colors. They spend the last weeks of the season looking like a rainbow. I didn’t take a photo but maybe next year.

Of course, I love aquariums. Are we talking about the huge ones like the Boston Aquarium or the twenty-gallon tank I had in the living-room for years. OMG, that tank went through a whole bunch of kids antics. They turned up the heater and boiled the fish. They dumped the entire box of food in the water to see if they would get fat.  The fish didn’t do well when mixed with a tiny shark. It ate so much its burst.  Guppies swelled in numbers at one time and Angel fish spread their fins. Maybe I’ll get another. I liked it. And I don’t have a cat to fish in the water now.

I’m staring at the cursor and hoping for inspiration. I did work on my manuscript this week and I’m pleased with the way the plot is tying together. Soon you’ll see the next segment in the Rhodes End series.
Have you read either of the first books? Check my website for excerpts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Camping At Its Purest Form

Laura Breck
Have you ever camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness? It's over a million acres of untouched wilderness on the Minnesota-Canada border, abutting Canada's Quetico Provincial Park.

Motorized boats are not allowed into the BWCA's inner lakes, and there are over one-thousand of them! Which means, you carry everything you need in a big pack and 'portage' between lakes with a pack on your back and a canoe over your head.

When we were (much) younger, we'd travel into the BWCA every year in early August. The days are hot while paddling and portaging, and the nights get so cold, your deodorant freezes! But it's worth it. Once you arrive at a campsite, chances are you're the only person on that lake. The quiet and fresh air are restorative.

No cell phones ringing (as of today - but there's a movement to plunk a tower in the middle of the area.) You can rent a satellite phone (satphone) if you feel the need to have a phone, in case of an emergency. We've sustained our share of injuries - and I have scars to prove it - but never anything life threatening.

The last time we went in, we took a long portage - 360 rods, which is over a mile. And the topographical map showed plenty of lines crossing the path. Way, way up we went, then way, way down again to the next lake. The difficulty of the portage evidently kept other campers away because we had the lake to ourselves.

Or, it could have been the bears. I ran into a bear at the top of that portage. Hubby had already gone ahead with the canoe and I was trudging a ways back. The bear crossed my path, I banged the aluminum canoe paddles together, and made really good time down the second half of that portage.

All these experiences helped me write my upcoming release, Wild Temptation, which is book one of a series of stories about the BWCA.

Here's a little excerpt to give you the flavor of what it's like to camp in the BWCA. Hanna's trying to temp Cord into a hot night in the cool north woods:

Hanna busied herself settling their packs next to the logs surrounding the iron fire ring, kindly provided by the Forestry Department of the State of Minnesota. She walked down the gentle slope of the rock and stood at water’s edge. The sun would be gone soon, but the air was hot, still, and steamy and she felt grungy. Maybe a shower?

"Hanna, help me find firewood." They trekked into the forest in different directions.

She came out a half hour later with an armful, he’d already gotten a fire started. The grate over the top held a big pan of boiling water. She dumped her wood in the pile that was double what she'd found. "Soup?" Her stomach rumbled.

"No. I thought you’d want to take a shower before we ate."

His kindness almost brought tears to her eyes. "Thank you, yes."

He’d already set up their pup tents. "Your clothes bag is in the tent on the left." He gestured to the half-full shower bag hanging from a tree behind them. "You remember how to do this?"


He picked up the pot of water and carried it to the shower bag, dumping it in. He moved the bag deeper in the woods, and hung it higher in a tree.

She shivered at the lovely thought of warm water as she slipped inside her tent and found her swimsuit. The tent was a long, thin triangle, and she had to lie on her sleeping bag to undress and redress. Fastening the teeny black bikini top at the back of her neck, she crawled out of the tent.

Cord had his back to her, sitting on his heels by the fire, facing the lake.

She posed. "Okay, here I go."

"Uh huh." A distracted grunt, and he didn't even look back at her.

She'd hoped to shock him a little, and impress him a lot, but he stayed focused on whatever he was doing. Hanna set her soap, shampoo, and towel by the shower bag, and made her way past Cord, down the rock face of their campsite, and stood with just her toes in the water. The sun was down, and dusk skated over the lake.

She turned her head to look at him. Now she had his attention.

Cord's stare was intent on her butt. Or maybe it was her thighs.

She made a quarter turn, showing off her breasts and flat stomach. "Care to join me?"

A loud breath left his lungs. "I'm busy right now, thanks." He wasn't too busy to gape at her.

Facing the lake, she screwed up her courage, ran five quick steps in, and dove under the water. She popped to the surface a second later, barely able to breathe from the shock of the cold water. "I hate this part!"

His laughter rolled across the water, warming her from the inside.

She made her way out of the lake and dripped as she walked to where her shower awaited.

He stood and turned his back to her. "We need more wood. I'll give you some privacy." He walked into the woods on the opposite side of the campsite.

In her private glen, Hanna stripped off her bikini and hung it on a tree limb. She quickly soaped her body, shampooed her hair, and opened the valve on the shower bag.

Cord had mixed the hot and cold just right, and the warm lake water sluiced over her. She worked quickly and saved half the water for him. She dried her body and flipped her hair forward meticulously toweling it and finger combing through the long strands. It would get cold tonight, and she didn't want to go to bed with wet hair.

After about ten minutes, his voice called from the woods behind her. "Are you done?"

"Yes." She wrapped her little towel around herself, tucking it in at her breasts, and walked back to the campsite.

He came out of the woods, his arms loaded with a mountain of wood, and stopped abruptly when he saw her. "Jesus, woman."

She smiled. "What's your problem?"

"I thought you were done." He walked past her and dumped the wood. "Are you planning on putting clothes on any time tonight?"

"Or we could turn this into a nudist camp."

~ ~ ~ ~

Hope you're enjoying your summer!
~Smart Women ~Sexy Men ~Seductive Romance
Dancing in a Hurricane is available in digital format at Amazon and in paperback at Createspace

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Journey into the Past by Amber Leigh Williams

There’s been a lot of change here on the home front lately. I’m happy to say all the change has been good! This holiday season, we will be adding a new addition to our family! Our priorities are shifting slowly as the hub and I prepare for Mini Me’s November arrival. It’s also shifted my focus back because I’ve always wanted to explore my ancestry in a more in-depth way. It’s always interesting to have access to where your family comes from and what they gave to the world. And I’m absolutely sure at some point Mini Me will want to know a bit more about his/her ancestors, too. So I decided to go exploring....

I started with both sides of the family – my husband’s and mine. I know very little about his grandparents and great-grandparents, much less anyone who lived more than a century or more back and where they came from. This will require talking to some in-laws who are more in the know. My goal is to trace his family tree at least four generations back in time. The same goes for my mother’s side of the family. While I know a respectable amount of information about my maternal grandmother’s life and the people who came before her, I know less about my maternal grandfather’s line. Plans for more digging there. My father had his paternal history traced back to some of the earliest Williamses who lived in America after their immigration from Europe. I’m looking forward to receiving a copy of it so I can fill in those lines on Mini Me’s family tree….

The part of the family I have explored more than any other so far is my paternal grandmother’s. A few years back, one of my many second cousins on that side of the family (my grandmother is the youngest of nine children) put together an in-depth ancestral report. Recently, I sat down and had the pleasure of reading it all the way through - all two-hundred-and-eight pages! It goes back to early American settlers and even further back into the areas of Europe where they actually came from. I knew that my paternal grandfather’s line could be traced back primarily to Germany, but I had no idea that three branches on my grandmother’s family tree were German as well. There have been rumors in the family for years that we have Irish roots as well. I was thrilled to see this confirmed by the fourth branch on my grandmother’s family tree, which comes from Antrim County in the Ulster Province of Northern Ireland.

This wasn’t the only interesting thing I found in my maternal grandmother’s ancestry. In the report, I found a copy of prisoner of war records from the American Civil War which lists my grandmother’s great-grandfather as a private of the Confederate Soldiers of America. He served at Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, Alabama and fought at the Battle of Decatur. He was captured in 1865 and held prisoner at Fort Blakely near Daphne, Alabama. The interesting thing about my great-great-great grandfather’s imprisonment at Fort Blakely and his service at Fort Gaines is that I’ve lived within thirty miles of both forts for over half my life. My husband and his brothers have been riding bicycles on the hilly Fort Blakely trails since they were youngsters. I can’t wait to go back and explore Fort Blakely again now that I know I’ll be walking the same ground as one of my ancestors….

On my great-grandfather’s side of the family, my family tree crisscrosses with a couple of historical figures. For example, there are records of one John Stewart from Scotland in 1695 who was supposedly born the son of the Duke of Berwick who, according to the report, was the illegitimate son of King James II of England. I’d say that’s a pretty remarkable family footnote. Another footnote includes the fact that one James Taylor from England (circa 1635) immigrated to America as a baby on the ship Truelove. Among his descendants is my father, me…and President Zachary Taylor.

It will be a challenging adventure exploring all the other branches of my family tree as well as my husband’s. I can’t wait to get started on the next phase. Until then, I’d love to hear your favorite stories from your family tree! Take it away....
I also leave you with Donald Duck's family tree.... Happy exploring!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reunions by Jannine Gallant

I couldn’t settle on one of our topics for this post. Usually I’m inspired, but this month, not so much. So, I’m going to stray a little. June is about graduations – which brings to mind reunions. It’s been a while since I posted about my Class of ’85 books. This series, published by The Wild Rose Press, wrapped up early this spring. My last book for the series came out a year ago. I’ve read every one of these books, over twenty of them. They are great stories about people revisiting their past and learning something about life and love in the process. The common link in the series is that either the hero or heroine (or both) was a member of the Summerville High class of ’85. He or she receives an invitation to a 25th high school reunion in Summerville on the shore of beautiful Lake Ontario. These books have gotten terrific reviews. But, frankly, sales stink!

So, I’ll ask the million dollar question – why? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d have to say a large portion of the women who read romances fall into the over forty category. (I know I do!) The characters in this series have a lot more in common with our readers than they do with a twenty-something hottie. So, why do books about older heroes and heroines not attract the attention I feel they deserve? Are crow’s feet a little too close to home for comfort? Would you, as a reader, rather escape into a world full of shape shifters, cowboys, or a setting from days gone by than read about a woman who has grown children and is on husband number 2? In the contest between escapism and reality, I have a sneaking suspicion reality comes out the loser. I’d love to know why you chose one sub-genre of romance over another to read. Please share your thoughts.

I’ll leave you with a really fun excerpt from Maybe This Time, my third and final book in the Class of ’85 series. This is the scene that inspired me to write the book. I hope you enjoy it!

Chloe Lane stood on the set of the hit reality dating show, Get Lei’d, with five other women, wondering if she’d completely lost her mind. All the other contestants were beautiful and young, painfully young. Sweat beaded her brow despite the tropical breeze blowing through the open cabana. Nerves shredded her stomach lining. She was forty-three years old and the mother of a teenage daughter for God’s sake. She had no business being on stage with the twenty-something girls still in contention.
Why had she let Sarah talk her into this madness? Why hadn’t Rafe sent her home weeks ago? Sure they’d had fun on the extravagant dates arranged by the show, but a long term relationship between the two of them didn’t seem likely.
Lamont stopped in front of her, opened his makeup case with a flick of his manicured nails, and clicked his tongue. Chloe gritted her teeth and concentrated on not kicking the annoying little man. If he made one more comment about her crow’s feet she’d scream.
His black brows lowered, and he wielded the touch up brush with more force than finesse. “Please, no close-ups on this one. I’m good, but I’m not a miracle worker.”
Bruce Kildare, the director, paused in his endless pacing; his voice boomed across the set. “We want her to look her age. That’s why the viewers love her. Cougars are all the rage.”

Blurbs and buy links for all my Class of ’85 books are on my website. Thanks for visiting!