Friday, December 28, 2012

Release Day: The Marine Cowboy

The seventh installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.



The Marine Cowboy 
Always a Marine #7

Purchase Now:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks| Decadent | Siren Bookstrand

 Turning down a billet at Mike's Place in Dallas, Sergeant A.J. Turner left Iraq for Freewill, Wyoming with one goal in mind—to forget the last five years. Trading his MARPATS for jeans and his cover for a cowboy hat, he plans to work his ranch and pray the green grass, tall trees, and sweet mountains can wash away the taste of the desert.

The last thing he expected was a reminder of a promise made to his buddies: one night to help them all start again.

Sheri Vaughn quit her corporate job, sold her house and moved to Freewill on a whim. Six months after her divorce, she's hardly ready to put her toe in the dating waters again. One bottle of wine later, however, she signs up for Madame Eve's exclusive 1Night Stand service and lists a very particular set of qualities she wants in a man; he must be honorable, courageous, forthright, single, have served as Marine, but be a cowboy at heart. If she wants to dream, at least she can dream big.

But when local hero A.J. Turner arrives home, Madame Eve comes through, and Sheri has to find the courage to make her dream a reality…

 Can one night, even a night arranged by Madame Eve, fulfill both a promise and a dream?

Excerpt:



Holy hell in a hand basket. Her gaze tracked the rugged stranger as he left the café and crossed the street. The jeans he wore hadn’t been spray painted on, but they definitely gave her a great visual of hard muscle and male confidence. He walked like he owned the town, but without any hint of pretentious air. That was a man who belonged in Freewill. She didn’t know who he was. She thought after six months she’d met most of the locals, but she would have remembered him.
“A.J. Turner.” Bea poured fresh coffee into her cup, heating it up.
Sheri spent nearly every morning at the café reading before she walked one block down to open the library. Trading her job as a corporate executive at a Fortune 500 company to be a small-town librarian didn’t suggest upward trajectory, but the town of Freewill healed that broken empty place inside left by her ex-husband’s series of affairs.
“The war hero?” She blinked and glanced back at the window, but he’d already disappeared.
“One and the same. Boy hasn’t been home since he left and didn’t tell anyone he was coming back either.” Bea clucked her tongue and wrote out the check. The café preferred the old pen and paper method, and since Sheri ate fruit and drank coffee every morning, the price was always the same.
“What branch did he serve in again?” Curious, she glanced at the waitress. Bea had been born, married, gave birth to her children, and buried her husband in Freewill. The town fixture wasn’t going anywhere. She also took Sheri under her wing from the day she arrived, treating her like an old friend—or a daughter.
“Marines, honey. That young man is definitely one of Freewill’s proudest.” She winked and went back to work.
A Marine. A tremor raced over her and her stomach seemed to bottom out.
The message waiting in her email that morning from Madame Eve made so much more sense. Biting her lip, she strained to look down the street. She wished she’d paid closer attention to him when he walked in, but she only got one good glimpse at his face when he turned and caught her staring.
Her cheeks heated at the memory. He’d caught her attention the moment he entered the café. She hadn’t missed the corded muscle in his arms, tense and well defined even as he drank a cup of coffee. The man was gorgeous and wore his masculinity like a second skin.
But his smile.
Her heart squeezed. The polite smile creasing his rugged face transformed him from handsome to a full-blown heartthrob. Her body hummed in reaction. To a smile.
Wow. He just got home, Sheri. Dial down the hormones.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Simply Ali's 12 Days of Christmas Day 3 Giveaway and More!

Simply Ali: Simply Ali's 12 Days of Christmas Day 3 Welcomes...

I'm hanging out at Simply Ali for her 12 Days of Christmas. She's got daily prizes and today I'm giving away one copy of No Regrets, No Surrender, and talking about my favorite Christmas memory!  Come and hang out with me and enter for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Show & Tell: Virginia Nelson


I'm super excited to reintroduce my first completed book, my paranormal romantic comedy, Odd Stuff to the world.   

Blurb:Janie Smith tumbles through the paranormal world making mistakes and not keeping her sharp tongue in check. Pretending to be normal is what she has spent her whole life perfecting. But when her best friend, a witch named Mia, gets tangled in a murder investigation, Janie tries to stick to her guns and solve it without any “extra” help, be it supernatural or sexual. The hitch is that Mia is suspected to have murdered a vampire...and how do you prove you haven't killed someone who has no pulse?

What are the reviewers saying?
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and would love to read more about Janie and her friends. Bitten By Books
Odd Stuff is hilarious. This story is fast paced, laugh out loud entertainment. Night Owl Reviews (top pick)
All in all, a don't-put-it down read that will have you smiling and giggling for Janie's inner thoughts are priceless.A must read for anyone who is a fan of the paranormal. Happily Ever After Reviews
The humor alone is worth buying this book. I laughed so hard in places that I had tears running down my face.Coffee Time Romance
Virginia Nelson's story is an absolute delight. I highly recommend it to readers who revel in stories filled with magic, secrets and fascinating characters imbued with powers that can only be imagined. The Romance Studio
Find it here:
About the Author:
Virginia Nelson spends her days chasing three very active kids around. When she is not doing this, or plotting taking over the world, she likes to write, play in the mud, drive far too fast and scream at inanimate objects. She can often be found listening to music that is far too loud and typing her next fantastic tale of blood, sex and random acts of ineptitude. Romance, in Ms. Nelson’s opinion, is not about riding off into the sunset on the back of a horse with the knight in shining armor— it is about riding the dragon. If the knight can keep up… well, that is love.
Visit me online! virg-nelson.com

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - We'll Always Have Bourbon Street


It's good to be back and it's good to have a new episode of Vampire Diaries to chat about. Yes, I haven't written the post mortem for last week's yet in large part due to work constraints and deadlines—and the fact that I didn't even get to see the episode until late on Sunday—but hoo boy did I hear about it. I want to take a moment to comment on one aspect of My Brother's Keeper because it fed directly into this week's episode.

The dramatic choice to have Caroline's screeching "OMG she's sired to Damon" intercut with Damon and Elena finally letting all their feelings cut loose and make love for the first time—bad idea. Just bad. Caroline sounded like a harpy and it was as though the writers finally gave fans what they longed for only to say—but don't get your hopes up.

Now, all of that said, the "reveal" didn't shock me nor did it diminish the power of Damon and Elena finally being together. Their chemistry burned up the screen and the absolute vulnerability and disbelief in his eyes when he realized Elena did want him—yeah—Damon deserves some happiness. People want to paint him with the selfish brush but he sacrifices a lot and he rarely wanders around moping like Stefan.

What's That Look on Your Face?

We open up the next morning, Damon curled on his side in bed and when he opens his eyes, Elena's not there. There's just the barest catch in his voice when he calls her name and she wanders back over to the bed in his shirt and crawls in with him. He thought she was gone and she just grins and says, "oh, I don't need to be at school until twenty minutes ago."

They are warm, affectionate, and Damon has this beautifully tender look on his face. Elena teases him, asking him what is that look and he says what look with a smile and she says "that look."  Damon confesses he's happy and yes, I freely admit, I sighed. When was the last time we really saw Damon "happy?"

They have a playful time, make out, get Elena ready for school and he's walking her to the door. When she asks about what they should tell Stefan, Damon asks if they can have one selfish day to just be happy before they have to break Stefan's heart. She agrees a little reluctantly but with indulgence—only to open the door and find Stefan right there.

Awkward.

Highlights

I would usually give a pretty full synopsis but I've had a raging head cold and sinus infection and I'm running on a lot of deadlines. So let's hit the highlights of the episode:
  •  Stefan tells Damon that Elena is sire bonded
  • Damon doesn't believe him, but is willing to test the theory
  • When Elena is able to drink the blood bag and is so happy, Damon's face crumples
  • But he then turns around and begins to search for a solution (I knew he wouldn't hesitate)
  • We find out that Damon turned a woman in the 1940s named Charlotte, she was crazy about him and after she turned, she was more than a little crazy—like snapping a sailor's neck because he touched Damon's drink crazy
  • Damon found a witch to break the sire bond
  • The witch told him he needed to kill 12 innocents to free her
  • Damon told Charlotte to count all the bricks in New Orleans and he would be back in the morning
  • He left her thinking the sire bond was broken
  • The witch sold him a bill of goods
  • Stefan and Damon track down her daughter and after some push pull, find out no such spell ever existed
  • A sire bond exists between the Hybrids and Klaus because he frees them from the pain of having to shift
  • A sire bond exists between vampires only if the one turned had deep feelings to begin with
  • Tyler later confirms that the sire bond controlled his actions, never his feelings


I.E. Elena loves Damon.  (Can I just say suck it to Caroline now?)

Speaking of Vampire Barbie (who gets kidnapped by the  rebellious Hybrids in a dominance fight with Tyler), she was  raging bitch in this episode. I normally like Caroline and I've adored her since Season 2. But all I saw in this episode was season 1's self-righteous snot. She is 100% team Stefan and made  no bones about being a craptastic friend to Elena. I for one cheered when Elena called her on her crap and then kicked her out of the house.

Elena's normal mode of apologizing for breathing seems to  be over. And I for one am very happy! Elena still does the right thing, she helps save Caroline and Tyler exerts his dominance.

Meanwhile…

  • We learn that Lexi brought Stefan to New Orleans to apologize to Damon as part of his recovery (FYI, just because they are likening his ripper hood to alcoholism does not make the alcoholic sympathetic)
  • Lexi was a bitch to Damon about Damon only caring about himself (like she knows) and blaming him for Stefan falling off the wagon (as we recall Damon felt bad about that, he really wants his brother to have it normal) and that if he truly cared about his brother, he would stay away from him
  • For the first time I am glad Damon staked Lexi...
  • Damon takes her advice because he does care and he leaves, when he tells Stefan the story, Stefan looks surprised—guess he should considering he wears his martyrdom like a bloody shroud for all to see. Damon has lost a lot and he doesn’t bellyache about it


Sidenote: The witch in New Orleans needed 12 innocents to open her death magic darkness--what they call Expression. Professor Shane is teaching Bonnie expression and needs 12 Hyrbids unsired by Klaus. Gee, that can't be good....

Send Her Away

The only way to free a sire bond is to tell them to forget the person they are bonded too, send them off to live their lives and never see them again. Damon frees Charlotte and you can tell it hurts him and he feels bad that she spent 70 years in New Orleans waiting for him. He didn't know. He goes home to free Elena, but Elena doesn’t want to be freed. She tells him she knows about the sire bond and figured that was where he and Stefan went—to take care of it. But the bond controls her actions, not her feelings.

She puts his hand over her heart and touches his face and says, doesn't this feel real to you? Meanwhile Stefan tells Caroline that Damon can't be selfish with Elena (you know like Stefan is) and Damon says he has to do what's right by Elena, but she shows him that he is right by her and she wants to go back to that happiness they had the morning before and kisses him.

Based on the previews, I think Elena is successful in keeping Damon with her.  And I for one am damn happy about being right about this. The sire bond doesn't make her love him—if she didn't love him, she wouldn't have bonded to him.  And of the two brothers, Damon will do anything to keep her safe and do right by her. Stefan cannot say the same.

So cheers all, what did you think of the episode?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Show & Tell Thursday: Meet FoxFire Authors Ditter the Great and Dawn Montgomery

We have a special show and tell treat for you this morning! Ditter and Dawn Montgomery, writing partners and the co-authors of Foxfire are here to tell us a little bit about them and their new release. The wonder and joy of social media, I met Ditter through a Decadent Publishing book club and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to get to know her and to share their book with you. Be sure to check it out after the mini-interview!

Why Ditter? It's an usual name to go by particularly without the last name. Can you share a little about where it comes from?
My older sister could not pronounce sister when I was born. It came out as Ditter and it stuck. Over the years it has been pronounced Didder. I started a book group and a Blog that got a lot of attention from a lot of people in high places. When I decided to write, I was going to use the name C.k. Blake, but was deterred from doing so by several different people for many reasons. The main reason being thousands knew me as DittertheGreat therefore it would be best to write under that name. Well, I was not about to write under TheGreat, so I dropped that part of it and decided on just Ditter. Hey, Cher did it ;)

In Foxfire, you have your characters trapped in an eclectic living museum--chills at the thought--what would be the great thing about being trapped there? What's the worst?
The great thing about living in the mansion...I suppose that would be the elaborate parties and interesting people you meet. You're surrounded by magic and illusion so it would be easy to lose yourself in wonder. The worst thing...you're trapped, and are forced to serve even after death. Mr. Devonshire destroyed his own humanity in his search for power. Each member of his collection is unique and he will exploit them in any way possible. --(Ditter and Dawn)

If it's not too telling, why a shapeshifting fox?
That one's my fault. I'm a huge folklore lover. The kitsune, the fox spirit, was an incredible inspiration. They were mischievous, sexual creatures who could cast illusion at will. There were a lot of stories about trapping them, about the more dangerous and cruel kitsunes, but also about their undying loyalty to those who earned it. Some believed a pearl held their souls or part of their magic when they shifted to human form. I started thinking about what kind of mischief a powerful kitsune would create if he were trapped unwillingly. And Shad was born. --(Dawn)

You co-wrote the book, did you find sharing the creative process allowed you to take the story to more challenging places? And how did you work? Share scenes? Etc?
How do I describe writing with Ditter? It's a jam session of creativity and love of romance every step of the way. I've been writing for a long time, and have spent several years writing with and teaching others. Writing with Ditter is amazing. She balances my weaknesses with her strengths and v/v. We usually get on the phone and talk while the other writes. Skype, instant messenger, and facebook make this almost as good as sitting in the same room together. When one person is working on a tricky part of a scene, the other is thinking ahead to the next one. Our writing sessions usually last most of the morning and then again, late at night so we can spend time with our family. (Dawn)

How do I describe writing with Dawn? It was a dream come true for me. I have loved Dawn's writing since I read Primal Hunger. I brought her in to my book group on Facebook. I beta read for her on a few of her books and naturally fell in love with them also. We were talking on the phone one night and decided to try and write a book together. It truly is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am having an enormous amount of fun writing with her...She has so much talent and we are on the same page 90% of the time. I have nothing negative to say at all. It's been a blessing to me from day one. (Ditter)

Who's your favorite superhero? (and yes, I totally had to ask!)
Favorite superhero...Wolverine, hands down. Gambit is a close follow, but only b/c I'm a sucker for a sexy Cajun. If I had to pick a superhero to be...Storm, Phoenix or Catwoman. ;) Catwoman is a superhero...sometimes. LOL. (Dawn)

Favorite Superhero- The Human Torch-Johnny Storm...No explanation necessary! *Grin*--Ditter

Keep up with Ditter and more via her blog! Loads of fun and great info, too!

Foxfire

Book 1 in the Dark Talisman series. While each Dark Talisman is a standalone, the greatest enjoyment can be found reading the books in series order.

Trapped!
Magickal null Alaya Bellemore is stuck in a mansion where murder-mystery games become a little too real. Midnight encounters with a certain shape-shifting fox becomes the norm. Even the walls and doors are alive.

Shad’s been trapped for far longer than he’d care to remember. When the luscious Alaya walks into his life he finds hope beginning to burn in his heart and soul. Their passion explodes in an inferno scorching enough to temper their resolve, and Shad will stop at nothing to protect what’s his.

Can Shad help Alaya escape the clutches of an eclectic collector before she becomes part of his living museum?

Available now at Amazon

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Falling in Love…True Romance Stories with Valerie Mann


In my latest 1Night Stand series release, First Comes Marriage, two lonely people have reached that point in their lives when they wonder where the time has gone and why haven’t they accomplished the most important goals for future happiness—finding someone to share their lives with, and have a family.

Compared to some people, I have a fairly conventional romance story. Girl meets boy, boy is smitten, girl reels him in. Nothing too out of the ordinary. By the way, he’s still smitten and I continue to reel him in after three decades. Yay for enduring romance!

Some of my author friends have romance stories that aren’t quite so tame. I love to hear these fun tales of “how we met”, but any good romance tale is enough to get my muse hopping! That’s the romance author in me. And I think it’s why romance authors write stories about finding love in all the right, or wrong, places. And it’s not just us authors…our readers want to suspend disbelief and fall in love right along with the characters. It’s Psychology 101. Which is all I ever took, so it must be elementary!

Here are some fun, true-life “How We Met” stories from some romance authors:

Kali Willows met her future husband through a friend who wouldn’t give up the challenge of bringing them together. Her hottie spouse is the real deal, ladies! They had a medieval wedding and from what I understand, he built the set for it. Talk about a knight-in-shining-armor! And to top it off, their wedding was broadcast on Food Network Canada’s documentary show, I Do, Let’s Eat! How cool is that?

One of the funniest authors I know, Katie Harper, has a sad story that ended happily ever after.

The Ballsiest Proposal Ever

My first husband died six years ago on Christmas Day. I was twenty seven and had an eighteen month old baby. I went through all the typical stages psychiatrists like to blather on about until I reached a point where I was totally happy being single. In fact I'd decided to never marry again. Kind of an odd declaration for a romance novelist. 

Then I met Rogerio. It might have been that I hadn't been involved with anyone in years but I was instantly attracted to him. The fact that he had a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, was a pastry chef, sexy as hell, and from Brazil had pretty much everything to do with it. Then I got to know him and discovered that all that stuff paled when held up to his kind, compassionate nature. 
My daughter fell in love with him from the moment they met. He went to all her school functions, helped her with homework, taught her to ride a bike, all the dad stuff. He just needed to suck it up and ask me to marry him because I sure as hell wasn't going to do it. I knew he wouldn't do anything showy. What he did will go down in history as the single most ballsy proposal ever. On the five year anniversary of my first husband's death, on Christmas Day, he asked me to marry him. He hedged his bet by showing up with a five carat ring. How was I going to say no to that? His goal was to give me a happy memory of Christmas. And he did. One year later, two weeks ago, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter Scarlett Sophia.


Mahalia Levey is one of the nicest authors writing today. Her partner wasn’t about to lose her and knew exactly what he was doing in her story!

George and I are not married but he has been my best friend for 15 years. I met him when my youngest was six months old. She just turned 15. He was the friend I cried on with every broken relationship, the man who would come pick me up at 3am for a designated driver home, the man who'd hold my hair when I barfed, also would pick up my young sister when she was stranded too. He never told me he loved me. I never told him I loved him. We never then attempted to date because I never thought I was good enough for him. I imagined him with a corporate black woman. He never thought he was good enough for me and it made him mad. Still my mom told him not to give up right before she passed away. I didn’t even know they talked, I'd moved out of state. I was always running from his type of security prob because he scared me lol. But whenever things were in shambles he was the first person I'd call. Eventually he gave me an ultimatum to come home and quit running or to never call him again when my life fell apart.

I did the only smart thing possible and came home. It hasn't been all rainbows and ice cream but he is a good man and I should've taken him out of the friend zone years ago. I never realized the hell I put him through after he'd pick me back up and patch me back together after the assholes I dated. We'll get married soon.


Kate Richards met her husband online in a gaming room. It was a whirlwind, West coast/East Coast romance. I’m talking days here, not even weeks! They knew they were meant to be, so why waste time?

In my latest 1Night Stand series release, First Comes Marriage, two lonely people have reached that point in their lives when they wonder where the time has gone and why haven’t they accomplished the most important goals for future happiness—finding someone to share their lives with, and have a family.
Blurb:
Who agrees to an arranged marriage in the 21st century? Beth Malone can’t believe a date request with the 1Night Stand service morphed into an arranged marriage offer. But after a heartbreaking divorce and no knight in shining armor coming to sweep her off her feet, her desire to find that knight and have a family is looking more like a dream than a reality. 


After filling out a 1Night Stand questionnaire worthy of the CIA, Christian Ramos is stunned when Madame Eve offers to arrange more than a date for one night: she suggests a wife! What the hell? After his best friend Jackson Castillo stops laughing, he advises him to consider the offer. Between the fortieth birthday looming on the horizon and his Latino upbringing, Chris is forced to take a hard look at his life. Reality check—time is running out for what he wants—a family and a woman to share his life.

First comes love, then comes marriage isn’t part of their matrimonial situation, but neither Beth nor Christian anticipated the immediate attraction and contentment that comes with saying, “I do.”





Excerpt:

“We need to get this over with.” 

Her eyes widened in shock. “Get what over with?” But she knew. 

He dropped his hand and gave her a rueful smile. “We’re married. I want to make love to my wife.” He waited for her to respond again and when she didn’t, he added, “Now.” 

Beth blinked. Her heart started beating again. She liked a man who knew what he wanted. Especially when he wanted her. Stretching up, she gave him a light kiss. He clasped her waist with both hands and pulled her against him, fusing his mouth to hers, nothing like he had during their wedding. He invaded her, tasting and exploring with his tongue, forcing her to open for him. 

She wound her arms around his neck and gave in, letting the invasion happen. Every fear disappeared and the only trembling happening was from desire. Her breasts swelled, aching to be touched. She wanted him. How wonderful he was hers. 

Chris eased away but didn’t let go, wearing the same dazed look she must have had after their wedding kiss. He stepped back a few paces, bringing her with him, until he reached the bed. 

“Turn around.” 

Beth narrowed her eyes but obeyed. The zipper on the back of her dress descended and the silky garment puddled at her feet as he turned her back to face him. His hungry gaze swept over her, and she shivered with anticipation. Leaning in, he kissed the space between her breasts, his face tight with desire. No man had ever looked at her body that way…so appreciative. 

Reaching behind her, he unhooked her bra, and tossed it on the floor to join the dress. Her nipples stood at attention, swollen and needy. She shivered again. 

He tilted his head back. “Am I going too fast?” 

She cupped his face and gave him a hard kiss. “Hurry,” she whispered. 

About the author: 

Valerie Mann has lived from sea to shining sea and currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has her own romance hero husband, five children, and two lazy cats. She started writing when she figured out her school chums would listen to her stories, with “The Stolen Ring”, a riveting tale about a ring stolen from a museum gumball machine, being her first critical success. Between family, authorly stuff, managing and editing for an electronic publisher and whatever else she can cram into a day, she’s having way too much fun. She loves to hear from her readers!



So what’s your story? Leave a comment (with your email address) and I will pick one commenter to win a copy of any book from my Decadent Publishing backlist. Make it a good one so you can help fuel my romantic muse!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Show & Tell: A Galactic Holiday Anthology


Three Galactic Holidays of the Future

Celebrating the holidays is a very ancient tradition. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia, the festival of light, in late December and gave each other gifts. The Germanic peoples of Northern Europe celebrated Yule and burned the Yule log to welcome back the light. The ancient Slavic ritual of Koleda was a celebration of death and rebirth. And of course Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ.
I wonder if our ancestors could have imagined how we celebrate the holidays nowadays. A 100 foot high Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, New York. Amazing lights strung across Regent Street in London. Millions of dollars spent on holidays gifts. People who spend hours decorating their homes and yards with hundreds of lights and decorations.

Can you imagine how we’ll celebrate hundreds or thousands of years into the future?
Wonder no more.

In A GALACTIC HOLIDAY, you’ll see three different versions of future holidays:

In Stacy’s, HOW THE GLITCH SAVED CHRISTMAS, you’ll see Chicago of the future. There are body modifications (the hero, Edison, has some serious bod-mods and some serious sexiness), slick bikes that run on maglev tracks and very advanced androids.
You’ll also see a mysterious reverse Grinch who’s leaving “old-fashioned” Christmas trees and gifts in people’s homes. And you’ll see rival police detectives Edison and Reina rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

In Sasha’s, GALILEO’S HOLIDAY, you’ll see the icy moon of Galileo. There are deep space tuggers, raider ships, a shield-protected station and scary cryptids.
You’ll see how the hardy colonists celebrate Holiday. They bake cookies, read ancient Holiday stories and know how to be thankful for all they have. You’ll see loner, Riley adapt to being part of a community and fall for the sexy, protective Leo.

In Anna’s, WINTER FUSION, you’ll see the distant ice world of Perma. There they have lingual implants, nanocoatings to stop ice melting, interstellar ships and fusion crystals.
You’ll also see how the Permans celebrate their important winter holiday of Yule. They drink mulled wine, burn an ice Yule log and welcome back the light after a long winter. You’ll see the hero, Savan—a man from a high-tech world with no families—collide with Brinn and see what the holidays and family are all about.

So come and join in our galactic holidays of the future!
A GALACTIC HOLIDAY – Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | All Romance
Anna HackettWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Stacy GailWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Sasha SummersWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads  



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Friday, November 30, 2012

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - My Brother's Keeper

I am out of pocket currently, but I know last night's episode must have you ready to chat! So hop to the comments and share your thoughts. I will post mine once I've caught up!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last Chance to Register for Self-Editing Workshop

Don't miss out on the self-editing workshop which kicks off December 3rd. This workshop is designed to help you polish those NaNoWriMo projects, but works for anyone with a completed manuscript. This is exactly what I do to every book before I feel it is ready to submit. We'll go through the process together so you can those books all nice and shiny. Registration will close Sunday, December 2nd. Invitations will begin being issued, Saturday evening, December 1st for the Yahoo Loop! Hope to see you there.


Class Cost: $20
Length: 5 Days
Dates: 12/3-12/7
Where: Via Yahoo Loop 


NaNoWriMo is over, but let's get that manuscript whipped into shape. You should have spent all of November focused on completing your manuscript, now lets polish it. This workshop will provide you with key tips on editing out passive writing, identifying flaws, finding overuse of words or phrases – and filling in any blanks that you may have left due to research.

Sign up below.  Workshops provide you with essential tips and tools to make your writing faster and smoother. An author of over twenty-five books, Heather uses these methods religiously to develop tighter, more focused manuscripts from start to finish. These workshops also provide you with an excellent networking resource and a support group.


Email for Class Subscription

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Blog Hop: Always a Marine and the Gift of Recovery


Black Friday, that day when the sales go crazy and customers go crazier to find the best deal, the best price, and the perfect gift for someone they love. I think sometimes in the shopping madness, we forget it is about the gift--not the deal, not the price, and certainly not the long lines. As part of our Black Friday Blog Hop for Decadent Publishing, we sat down with James Westwood, a licensed psychologist at Mike's Place located in Allen, Texas. Mr. Westwood, a retired Marine, specializes in trauma recovery and works with recovering veterans and active duty personnel.


Mr. Westwood, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us today about survival and the gift of recovery.

Westwood: Thank you for having me, Heather. It's an important topic and one that I am passionate about.

Can you tell us a little about your work at Mike's Place? And what exactly is Mike's Place?

Westwood: Mike's Place is a combination medical center, treatment facility, and living quarters for injured vets and their family. Wounds come in all shapes and sizes and we can't always see the scars that our brothers and sisters bear during and after their service. Captain Luke Dexter felt very strongly that he wanted to continue helping those he served with and those who came after--so he started Mike's Place in honor of a fallen friend. We provide medical support, surgical centers, physical therapy, emotional and mental therapy and plenty of wide open spaces and living quarters for families to stay with their recovering vets. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Release Day Celebration: No Regrets, No Surrender Available (MFM, Menage)


The emotional sequel to Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here.  Readers wished for more Jazz, Logan and Zach and the threesome are reunited when the unthinkable happens.

Always a Marine #6
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61333-420-1
Release Date:  20 Nov 2012

This sixth installment of the Always a Marine series for Decadent Publishing and a first for the series, as a spinoff of Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here. Jazz, Logan and Zach met via a 1NightStand. This is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.



BLURB:
At the end of their night of frenzied passion, Jazz Winters walked away from the only two men who’d ever made her feel like a woman. Logan Cavanaugh and Zach Evans let her go, but only if she swore all her future leaves to them.

Waiting fourteen excruciatingly long months, visiting Jazz when they can, is harder on the guys that they like to admit. But their work at Mike’s Place, a veteran’s rehabilitative facility, only lets Zach and Logan go one at a time. Jazz fears their unconventional relationship can’t last a lifetime. The stress of years of military service in hot zones, combined with life-threatening injuries pushed her to the edge. But when she comes home a wounded warrior, not the woman she believes they want, Zach and Logan are right there to help her, even when she resists.

She’s not alone. Whether she chooses one or both, they have no regrets and they won’t surrender.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Military Blog Hop Winners

And the rafflecopter has spoken! All three winners will receive a PDF copy of No Regrets, No Surrender Monday evening (it releases Tuesday). Congratulations and thanks for dropping by!:


Tamara Hoffa 
Tanya Y. Childress 
Phuong

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem: We All Go A Little Crazy Sometimes

In this case, we go a lot crazy and it wasn't just Elena that went a little loopy this week—it was me, jumping up and yelling YES as the episode winded down. Why was I so excited? Well anyone who follows these post mortems knows that my largest complaint has been telling me how much Elena is supposed to care about Stefan, but showing me that it's really Damon she trusts and Damon she reaches out to and Damon who empowers her—and in last night's episode, that was made even more abundantly clear.

Slasher Movie
You know, Elena really has gotten the crap end of the vampire transition spin the bottle game. But considering how much pivots around her, this isn't surprising. Troubled by bad dreams, she goes down to the kitchen to find something to eat or drink or do and Connor appears to her. Convinced it's a ghost, she yells for Jeremy (after all her brother can see ghosts), but Connor's torment includes seizing her and she grabs a knife and stabs him in the neck—unfortunately who she really stabbed was Jeremy and she's horrified as he bleeds out.

I Just Called to Say I Killed My Brother
It didn't surprise me that Elena called Damon when it went awry and the elder Salvatore showed up to help. As Elena twisted herself into knots over what she would say to Jeremy, Damon suggested "I'm sorry, but I'm glad you're still wearing the ring that drove Alaric crazy?"  He also asks her why she didn't call Stefan. But she doesn't want to talk to Stefan, she's still pissed at him for what went down at the Grill and his deal with Klaus.

Unfortunately, Damon did call Stefan—which he informs her via "P.S. I called Stefan."

Klaus Was Right…for a Change
And maybe that headline is a little unfair, but for the first time in EVER I was actually on Klaus' side for part of the argument. Who would have ever thunk it? The Original is back in town and he makes a beeline straight for Elena's. He's upset that Connor is dead, but he can roll with it. There are four others left of those five, they just have to find them.

Damon advises Stefan to not duck Klaus' calls—that's suspicious.  Stefan steps out to meet him and Klaus tells him they need to lock Elena up because of the hallucinations. Stefan isn't biting, but Elena has a total bloody shower freakout and comes downstairs—only to see Damon turn into Connor and she rushes for the door to flee.

Klaus grabs the girl and takes off.

Oops.

They Need a Plan
The Salvatores split up with Damon taking the Witchy one to go see Professor Shane who just happens to be hosting a free exhibit of his cultural artifacts and tells a story about the rock that could have been a gravemarker for an immortal. Now check this, the immortal had a witch develop a spell that would let him live forever. But he didn't want to live with her forever, he wanted to live with another woman. When he planned to give that woman immortality, the witch had a hissy fit, killed her and trapped him forever (yes I'm paraphrasing, I haven't had a chance to watch it again).

How much you wanna bet Professor Shane is the immortal guy who needs to be freed? 

But I digress.

Bonnie introduces the Professor to Damon and asks about the mark. The Professor recognizes it immediately and asks if Damon has a dead hunter in his trunk. Damon replies enigmatically, "metaphorically speaking." The prof explains that the vampire who killed the hunter will be cursed until a new hunter is called or accepts their calling.

Damon sends Bonnie to fetch Jeremy. Cause he knows exactly what to do now.

Klaus is Bat Crap Crazy
We've known he's been a nutball—but let's face it, Klaus killed all five of the first five. So all five haunted him and tormented him for 52 years and change. Klaus actually wanted to off himself during that time period and eventually it just stopped. He didn't know why (but of course we know it was because a new set of Five emerged).  He locks Elena up in a bedroom with priceless artwork and no windows.

He tells her she's going to want to kill herself and warns her that the tormentors will take a wide variety of forms. Two things that made me laugh in this scene—Elena's initial reaction when she saw the bed and the fact that she actually ASKED Klaus questions. Normally she skates right past that part.

Her tormentors do take a lot of forms—Connor and eventually Katherine.

I  Lost Her
Stefan learns that Tyler and Hayley have been working to free the Hybrids and that one of the guards: Chris is no longer sire bound. They use this to get Stefan in to sneak Elena out—unfortunately, Elena drives a steel bar through Stefan's gut and flees. Is there anything funnier than Stefan calling Damon and saying "I got her—but I lost her."

He also tells Damon to go after her because she'll listen to him. He'll help Jeremy get the mark activated.

Which they do but the results are unfortunate for several other relationships.

By the way, Kudos to Jeremy because when Bonnie told him he had to activate the mark by killing a vampire, he snarked, "give me a stake, I'll kill Damon right now."

Betrayal
Caroline had been distracting Klaus but when Stefan told her what they needed to do, she told Klaus what was happening. Furious, he started to storm out and even told Caroline that no matter how much he liked her if she didn't shut up, he'd kill her. But she confessed they had a solution—

Meanwhile at the Lockwood Estate, Chris is getting ready to leave. He's going to run far and fast so he can have his life back, but when he opens the door—Klaus is there. He slams Chris against the wall and chides him for his betrayal and reminds him that he is supposed to want to do what Klaus tells him—that's how the sire bond works. Tyler and Hayley try to cover, but this cat is out of the bag.

Klaus lets Chris go and Jeremy stakes him as he makes it to the door. Tyler and Hayley can only watch horrified as Jeremy cuts Chris' head off with Stefan and Caroline guarding his back.

I Promised Him a Date
Tyler's body blows don't stop—because Caroline convinced Klaus to give up a hybrid by promising him a date. She had to save their friend, but Tyler points out she did it by sacrificing one of his friends—his pack. Methinks the Alpha in Tyler is finally awake and rocky ground is ahead for my favorite couple.

Effing Wickery Bridge

Someone needs to burn this bridge, but yes, this is where Elena went when she fled Stefan. On the bridge she stares into the water where her life changed so dramatically—twice. Her tormentor turns into her mom (whom we last saw in the flashbacks in last season's finale). Tormentor Miranda reminds Elena that she should have died when their car went off the bridge and that she was ready to die last season when she asked Stefan to save Matt.

By the way, I would like to point out that this is confirmation that Elena chose death. She was somewhat suicidal and has been struggling to be the girl she was before her parents died for three seasons. Tonight she confronted that about herself and as unhappy as she was—she was making herself more miserable by trying to continually be that girl.

She took off her ring and dropped it in the pond and waited for the sun.

He Will Always Save Her
Damon found her on the bridge. He knew where she would go and said, "So, third time's the charm?" When he realized she didn't have her ring though, he got tense. The curse eventually passed and a dazed Elena came back to herself and began to burn.

Damon grabbed her and tossed them both into the water. Later, Elena wakes in herbedroom—ring on her finger and Damon sitting in the window seat. They share a beautifully sweet moment and for the first time, she genuinely thanks him for saving her and she takes his hand.

Taking the "annoying" high road as he puts it, Damon tells her what Stefan was up to and why he wanted Connor alive. He tells her the truth, because she needs to know it and also lets her know that vampires don't like to swim.  He also asks that she spread his ashes at Wickery Pond after Stefan kills him for telling her.

I Can't Do This Anymore
Stefan and Elena sit down to talk on the porch and he knows that Damon told her. She asks him why he sent Damon and he says because Damon can get through to her—even when he can't. She acknowledges that her feelings for Damon, they've grown and Stefan says "magnified." She nods and says she's not the girl who chose him—not anymore. And she's finally had to accept that. Stefan says he can't do this anymore. And they break up.

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Elena's feelings for Damon magnified, suggesting she was more in love with Damon than Stefan (which I knew)
  • Her feelings for Stefan didn't—except for the feelings of distrust and the need to hide her true self from him
  • Her struggles have been largely internal—answering the age old question of who am I and who do I want to be?


If you'll recall she told Caroline way back at the beginning of season three that she wasn't sure what it meant about her to be in love with Damon—a thought she repeated to Matt. But she's not running from it. Not anymore.

Alaric's Chair
Despite his death, Alaric remains a powerful influence on the show. Damon still gets him a drink at the Grill and keeps his seat open. He also met with Professor Shane in Alaric's classroom and smiled at the bottle of bourbon (whiskey or whatever) in the drawer.  Matt approaches Damon and though Damon initially gives him the brush off, he tells Damon that April said something funny about Professor Shane. She recognized him.

He also traced several calls from Pastor Young to the Professor – one every day and ten on the day the house blew up. Damon is intrigued. 

I figure this also explains the Pastor's seemingly compelled reaction: hypnosis anyone?

You're Going to Need Me
Bonnie and the Prof are talking too and she finally asks him how he knows everything that he does. He keeps it enigmatic, but tells her that when her hunter completes his mark (and he knows she has one) she will need to find him. Does she understand? Bonnie nods slowly. Yep, Bonnie's day in hypnotherapy has her completely open to Professor Shane's control.

Next up: Miss Mystic Falls in Two Weeks

Warning

The following is purely speculation and I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade. I am a huge Delena fan, I've wanted them together since season one. I know that we saw Elena reaching out to Damon in the previews and Stefan bitching that it should be the happiest day of Damon's life that Elena did choose him, but I know the obstacles are not out of the way.

I said last season I thought Elena would wake up sire bonded to Damon and I think she is. She said she killed Connor because Damon told her to do it. She fed, because Damon told her. She stopped attacking Matt when Damon told her. She started to come out of her cursed state when Damon spoke to her on that bridge.

If she is sire bonded, Damon will want to break that so that he can know Elena truly chose him—because that's the kind of guy he is. I don't think it diminishes her feelings for Damon at all, but I do think it demonstrates once again that Damon is her hero—and he will always save her. Even from herself.

No Vampire Diaries next week because of Thanksgiving and new episodes return on the 29th! Here's hoping for a repeat of the best dance ever from their first turn at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Show & Tell Tuesday: Tamara Hoffa & Heart of a Soldier

It's Tuesday and that's show and tell time! So what do I have in my brown paper sack for you today? A sweet and poignant military romance called Heart of the Soldier by Tamara Hoffa! It should come as no shock to you that I am a fan of military romance. Described as a lunchbox romance, this short captures and captivates. As an author, I love to chat with my readers about what they like about my stories. I love to learn from their experiences. Nearly as delightful is discovering that a reader is also an author as well. I met Tamara Hoffa via my Always a Marine series and I'm delighted to share her book with you today. 

Three things I found fantastic about Heart of the Solider? The heroine isn't an ingenue, she's a grown, mature woman who wants to protect her son. The hero is a grown man, dedicated to his country and to the men he serves with (and damn isn't that sexy?) The charming tale brings you all the emotion I could want and the sense that this could be you. As a mother, a woman and a love of military romance--this was the perfect snackable story! The cover for Heart of a Soldier was done by Tamara's daughter Cat.


Heart of a Soldier

Soldier Jameson Hunter faces the battle of his life, winning the heart of Charlotte Mackenzie, widowed mother of a young recruit.



About Tamara

Tamara Hoffa lives in central Tennessee, with her husband of 30 years, her three grown children, two grandchildren, 3 dogs and 2 cats. Tamara started reading when she was four years old and has rarely been seen without a book at hand since. At home you will usually find her in “nana’s chair” with her kindle, her laptop or one of her precious, precocious grandson’s in her lap. Tamara is a reviewer, a professional reader and can now add author to her repertoire. Tamara is proof positive that it’s never too late to reach for your dreams.



Don't forget to check out the Military Blog Hop featuring over a hundred authors, books, and of course--sexy military heroes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - The Killer


 They say you never forget your first—well, Connor at least you know you'll never be forgotten. From the moment the episode opened with Connor taking the Mystic Grill hostage with Jeremy, Matt and April (whom I now unceremoniously dub Red Shirt. Add her to the drinking game folks, April is in jeopardy take a shot, April is clueless take a shot, April has to have her memory wiped, take a shot…you get the picture) in it, I knew Connor was going to bite it (pun intended) and that it would be Elena who did the deed.

And you know what? I'm fine with that. In large part because Elena "killed" in self-defense. The heavily forshadowed 'first kill' didn't show me that Elena's vampire side is evil or dark or a wild animal on a chain ready to snap loose. It showed me that she's an older sister who has lost a hell of a lot and refused to let this psychopathic hunter take her brother with him. She bit him and let him go—warning him to stay away from Jeremy. Connor slammed a stake into her and he missed her heart—and she snapped his neck.

Goodbye Connor. Thanks for playing I will not miss you especially after you gutted a sixteen year old girl and left her to bleed to death to lure out the vampires. Good thing they actually gave a crap about her.  This is gonna be a quick and dirty post mortem, I'm terrifically behind after my fantastic Readers and Ritas weekend, I promise more Vamp Diaries love for the next episode!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Men & Women of Military Blog Hop: Meet the Marines of Mike's Place (Always a Marine)

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Good morning and welcome to Mike's Place. Located in Allen, Tx—this facility was founded by retired Marine Captain Luke Dexter. He wanted to create a place for veterans and their families to heal together.

Why? Let's hear that from Luke's words in Once Her Man, Always Her Man:

“I’ve seen what back to back wars do to the men and women who serve, and their families. Mothers who don’t see their kids for years. Fathers who return, a wad of stress and out of sorts. Soldiers who can’t reintegrate because their personal worlds moved on without them, and the injured who are struggling to figure out who they are now without an arm, a leg or the ability to walk. It’s a bitch and we don’t leave people behind, especially when they come home. Mike’s Place will provide the lodestone for a lot of lives.” The thirty-acre complex providing physical therapy centers, mental health pavilions, free clinic services and a childcare facility. Donations requested, but not required, covered the near non-existent cost to patients. Out-of-state visitors would be provided with access to onsite apartments for both patient and family.

So who was Mike?
 “Mike Nowiski went through basic with me. Two years older than me, he’d dropped out of college to enlist. He grew up in New Jersey. His parents owned a pizza joint, and he married his high school sweetheart for love. They had a baby girl, just a year old when Mike enlisted. He was a good guy, never shut up about his kid. He joked that the Marines would give him all the know-how he needed to cap any punk who wanted to date her. I met his wife, twice. Shari was a sweetheart. They had that real thing, crazy in love, but supportive as hell. She was amazing, we spent four years in Afghanistan, and Mike never had leave to go home except for one seventy-two hour furlough. Shari flew to meet him halfway in Germany.”

Dread curled around Rebecca’s heart. So many of Luke’s words were past tense, not present. But she squeezed his arm, the heat of his bicep melting the ice chips on her soul.
“Three years ago, Mike got injured. We were in Iraq, monitoring a school rebuild. Insurgents tossed a few grenades, brought down most of the unfinished building. Mike took shrapnel in the leg helping the workers get out. It was bad. They airlifted him to Germany, and he spent ten weeks getting pins in his leg to rebuild it. Then they sent him home.”

Fear squeezing her heart, she waited. A muscle ticked in his jaw and they were gliding down the exit ramp. He took a left at the light and blended in with the evening traffic. Lights from the strip malls illuminated the truck, reflecting off his angry, tortured visage.
“What happened, Luke?” She couldn’t stand the silence.

“Three weeks after he got home, he shot Shari and then himself. The reports said he suffered from severe PTSD. Shari had spoken to a chaplain about his violent mood swings and nightmares, but the day before the chaplain’s scheduled visit, something in Mike snapped. He was a good man, he loved his wife. What happened to him overseas, the war, the injury, changed him and he didn’t get the support services he needed. I know he shot himself because he killed Shari, but it doesn’t change the fact that his little girl is now an orphan. She’s barely eleven and she has no one, no family. Mike’s Place can’t save everyone, but kids like Amy Nowiski shouldn’t have to bury their parents, and guys like Mike should have a place to go to get better while women like Shari have the support they need to be there for their spouse."
                                                                                -Excerpt from Once Her Man, Always Her Man
Mike's Place is the setting for many of the Marines we meet in the Always a Marine series. Five books are currently available and five more on their way including No Regrets, No Surrender releasing this Thanksgiving.

So who are the Marines of Mike's Place?

Captain Luke Dexter (Once Her Man, Always Her Man) – The founder and principal owner of Mike's Place, Luke lost his mother and his sister on 9/11. When his retired Marine father returned to active duty, Luke applied for early graduation and enlisted in the Marine Corp. He served for over a decade, returning to Texas after years of service and met the love of his life Rebecca Rainier for a second chance at love.

Second Lieutenant Brody Essex – Still on active duty, Brody visited Dallas for leave and hung out with members of his old unit at Mike's Place. During his last visit, he met artist Shannon Fabray and shared a passionate affair. (Her Marine)

PFC James Westwood -  Retired PFC James Westwood enlisted with just a few clinical hours left to obtain his license. Upon retiring from active duty, Westwood came to work for his former Captain and leads many of the group and individual psychology sessions for wounded veterans at Mike's Place. During his 1Night Stand he met actress Lauren Kincaid. (Tell It To the Marine)

Damon Sinclair – This retired from active duty grunt worked as a cook during his tour in addition to his other duties. Raised in Louisiana, he brought his love for food to Allen and opened up a restaurant near Mike's Place. A volunteer and battle buddy, Damon enjoys taking care of others. He met a real challenge in his 1Night Stand date attorney Helena Blake (Proud to Serve Her)

Gunnery Sergeant Jazz Winters – An active duty Marine, Jazz enlisted right after high school in honor of her deceased uncle, also a Marine. For over a decade, she's proved herself more than capable of being one of the guys. But during her leave, she hooked up with two retired Marines in Las Vegas, seeking to feel like a woman.  When she returned to duty, she promised to keep in touch. (Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here)

Logan Cavanaugh – Gravely injured during an IED attack, Logan's recovery took months. But he found solace and support at Mike's Place along with best friend and fellow unit Marine Zach Evans. Logan specializes in physical therapy. Zach arranged for a 1Night Stand date in Las Vegas to help Logan overcome his impotence. The two men more than met their match in fellow Marine Jazz. (Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here)

Zach Evans – Zach's upbeat and optimistic personality makes him a great coach and friend. When his best friend was sent to Mike's Place to recuperate and recover, Zach joined him. Not one to sit idle, Zach volunteered to run the sports complex for the children of veterans being treated at Mike's Place. When he encouraged Logan to join him in Vegas, he didn't expect they would meet a woman like Jazz. The two Marines are very supportive of the active duty Gunnery Sergeant and are awaiting her next leave.  (Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here)

The story of Logan, Jazz, and Zach continues in No Regrets, No Surrender this month.



Blurb:

At the end of their night of frenzied passion, Jazz Winters walked away from the only two men who’d ever made her feel like a woman. Logan Cavanaugh and Zach Evans let her go, but only if she swore all her future leaves to them.

Waiting fourteen excruciatingly long months, visiting Jazz when they can, is harder on the guys than they like to admit. But their work at Mike’s Place, a veteran’s rehabilitative facility, only lets Zach and Logan go one at a time.

Jazz fears their unconventional relationship can’t last a lifetime. The stress of years of military service in hot zones, combined with life-threatening injuries pushes her to the edge. But when she comes home a wounded warrior, not the woman she believes they want, Zach and Logan are right there to help her, even when she resists.

She’s not alone. Whether she chooses one or both, they have no regrets and they won’t surrender.
Read an excerpt.

Enter to Win:

Every Marine has a story, and Always a Marine is dedicated to finding love for those who serve.I'm giving away three copies of No Regrets, No Surrender. Winners will be selected on November 16 and receive their copies on release day!
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