Monday, January 27, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Break Out Your Ghost Hunting Equipment, Haunt Me is Here

"Heather Long's fresh voice blends a timeless love survived through the ages to perfection in one gorgeously wrapped romantic package." - Dakota Cassidy, best selling author of the Accidentals series.

"A delicious paranormal romance with a haunted house, a savvy heroine and a rocking hot hero."

'Ghosts, Haunted Houses & Romance! Oh My!"

"This was a love story, wrapped up in a ghost story, and covered with lots of sweetness and emotion."

"This is a tale that will bring out the romantic in even the most stone hearted."

Recently divorced author MacKenzie Dillon has lost her writing mojo. When she inherits her great aunt's haunted house in Virginia, she is determined to make a new start. The creepy old house provides inspiration but at what cost?

Successful architect and paranormal skeptic Justin Kent returns to Penny Hollow to fulfill his father's dying wish of revitalizing their small town. To do that, he needs the allegedly haunted estate at Summerfield. Mac, the new owner, may be gorgeous and spunky, but she refuses to sell.

These two have a dangerous history that spans the ages, but will they discover the truth in time to save their lives?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Snippets: Parties, Book Releases, Plans, Oh My!

First and foremost, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me yesterday after I posted the blog. I appreciate all your thoughts and wishes. Hopefully I shall bounce back fully soon. In the meanwhile, we've got an exciting week ahead.

Monday is release day for Haunt Me, be sure to drop back in here to check out all the deets and to celebrate with me. I have a blog tour coming up for that and a party over at Bitten by Books. All the information will be in the newsletter going out on Monday.

Wednesday, we have two release parties on Facebook. One for Virginia Nelson and her upcoming release: Magical Curves and one for Rebecca Royce and her release Adrenaline Rush. The beauty of Facebook, you can RSVP for both and be two places at the same time.

Thursday, head over to the Decadent Publishing Book Club for the January Book Party! Lots of new releases this month and lots of authors to party with!

On Saturday, we've got another release party and this is for Rebecca Royce's release in the Calendar Man series: February Lover. Tons of games, and prizes..not to mention fun.

Whew. Are you tired? I am! But I hope to see you on the fly around the Internet!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thanksgiving

One morning last November, I woke to tingling in my left hand and an aching joint at the elbow. I didn’t think much of it; I had been working a lot of hours and falling into bed exhausted. I just assumed that I slept on the arm wrong. However, after more than three days passed with the same issues, and the tingling in my hand turning into numbness I bit the bullet and called the doctor.

I was able to get an appointment within a couple of days, and I half thought the issue would resolve itself as soon as I walked in her door. Kind of like how the car stops having issues when you go to the mechanic. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. After some tests and discussion with the doctor she sent me to get x-rays. She thought I had a pinched nerve. I was able to get x-rays that day, however it was three days before I got the results from the doctor. When she called me, she told me several of the discs in my neck were flattened or compressed. I needed to have an MRI and she recommended me to a spine specialist.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with compressed discs. In 2011, I had issues with two discs in the lower portion of my spine. Fortunately, I was one large Cortisone shot away from relief. I went to see the spine specialist, and she noticed a lack of muscle strength in my left hand versus my right. As with my general practitioner, She insisted I get an MRI right away. It took time to get the MRI, due to financial concerns. I had an MRI done on Thursday before Christmas and on the Monday before Christmas I got my results.

Yes, I did have flattened discs in my spine. That, however, was a minor problem compared to the issue with my spinal cord. These are not words you want to hear anyone tell you. I sat there as the physician explained to me that I had a condition called cervical stenosis. What this means is that sheath around the spinal cord itself was compressing the spinal cord. When I asked how this happened, had I done something wrong? The surgeon explained in all likelihood I had been born this way, And that it had been progressive and over the years more and more pressure had been put on the cord.

We discussed my options, as well as the fact that without treatment the compression on my cord would continue and long-term damage was inevitable. Without the surgery, we wouldn’t know how much damage was already permanent. A little sick to my stomach, and more than a little worried, I discussed the diagnosis with a trusted few individuals.

Not only was I concerned about the actual problem, but I was concerned about the surgery. Surgeon had described it as a procedure with it have to go into the back of the neck shave away the bone and relieve the pressure on the cord. In fact he said it was a 45 minutes surgery, Great. It would also be a minimum 7 to 15 days for me to be a will to go back to work, and perhaps four weeks before I was feeling up to speed. These are averages however, And subject to change based on the individual patient. Because he could not predict what would happen during and after the surgery.

Now I was in a race against time, Not only against my deadlines but also my body. They scheduled the surgery for January 3. With so many ongoing projects, my goals became twofold: finish as many projects as I could and prepare Mini Me for what was to come, As well as make arrangements for someone to be here while I was recovering.

I did a lot of research about cervical stenosis and the procedure I was about to undergo. Sometimes research does not make you feel better, particularly when you could see all the things that could go wrong. Armed with my knowledge and confident I had done as much as I could, I was admitted for surgery very early in the morning on January 3.

What follows, are the pieces that I can remember. I went through the admission process, changed into it hospital gown, had the IV inserted and spoke to the various doctors and nurses associated with my surgery. After a grueling 80 minutes of waiting, they were finally ready to roll me into the surgical room. I remember the trip in almost vague clinical terms. A part of my brain catalogued each thing that I saw, made mental notes and thought how could I use this in a book?

They must have been the anesthesia shortly thereafter and eliminated whatever else I might’ve thought, because that thought was my last one until I woke up in recovery. The first thought I remember having was: oh my God it hurts. My mouth was dry, and my lips felt chapped. Yet it was the pain that was excruciating, so excruciating it seemed to shred my thoughts before I could fully form them. I managed to say the word hurt, but I don’t think anyone was there to hear me. I couldn’t see anyone, only the cold sterile ceiling above.

I tried to lift my arm, in a vain attempt to get someone’s attention and realized I couldn’t move my arm… I couldn’t move either one. So, amid the pain slicing through my brain, was this feeling a sudden terror. Had they paralyzed me? It had, after all, been one of the possible risks of the surgery. Panic ensued, and I think for a few seconds or maybe it was minutes I was almost incoherent. What would I do? I’m a writer, I need my hands. I’m a mother, I need my arms.

It was the thought of Mini Me that grounded me, I latched onto that thought with every fiber of my being. I was a mother— I am a mother. I need to be able to move my arms. And then the fingers on my right hand started to curl…

At some point during all of this, the nurses noticed I was awake and came to ask me how I was feeling. The only sentence I was able to get out was it hurts. I repeated it over and over again. Only two thoughts survived the shredding going on in my brain—my child, and my pain.

I weaved in and out of consciousness, as they gave me medicines for the pain. At some point, they told me they were admitting me to the hospital— I should mention here this is supposed to be an outpatient surgery. The trip from the recovery room to the hospital room, was a descent through hell. They’ve been giving me Morphine, but all that did was make me not care so much that I was in pain. It didn’t seem to take away the pain at all.

The lift from the surgical bed to the room bed, was so painful that I passed out. However, I was told later by one of the nurses, that I shouted “At least this will be good research.” Most of the rest of the day is a blur, I know a nurse fed me by hand because I couldn’t get my arms to do what I wanted them to do–but they were moving so I wasn’t paralyzed. On another upside, I had two of the most amazing nurses ever looking after me.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ghosts in the Literary Machine

Ghost stories are nothing new. In fact, ghosts and spirits have populated literature for centuries. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet appears no less than three times in the telling of the tale. By their very definition, ghosts can't technically hurt us–at least not physically. Yes there are reports of ghosts throwing objects, but in most stories ghosts are limited in their ability to interact with the physical world.

In fact, ghosts that do interact with the physical world are not called spirits so much as poltergeists. And spirits are not necessarily ghosts, insomuch as a ghost is the remnant of a living being where the spirit may always have been a spirit.

So why then are we so afraid of them?

Head over to Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, and we discover the effect that four potent ghosts have on Ebenezer Scrooge. The first is Jacob Marley, who appears to Scrooge all wrapped in chains and dragging his past regrets along with him. While Marley does not actually physically hurt Scrooge, he does warn him that he faces a similar fate. No one wants to imagine that they will pass away and wake up to an afterlife in which they suffer.

It can be argued that a ghost's greatest threat is psychological.

After Marley's visit, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. Of these three only the ghost of Christmas future is scary, for the spirit says nothing. Yet, he points to Scrooge's future…a lonely death. The benefit of this visitation or "haunting" is Scrooge's chance to change.

In fiction, ghosts are guideposts or catalysts for change. They may also be a punishment to torment the wicked. Still in other tales, ghosts or spirits linger behind because their work or their lives are left unfinished… they either have some task that needs to be completed or they're unwilling to abandon their loved ones.

Whether you're sitting around the campfire, staying in an old hotel, or visiting a notorious location, the idea of ghosts lingering to share their tales is provocative. So much so, that people make a living of searching for or hunting for ghosts.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Virginia is for Ghost Lovers

The state of Virginia's motto is "Virginia is for Lovers," but did you also know it's also a state ripe with ghostly haunts and paranormal activities? According to the state's website, nearly 170 locations report paranormal or spooky activity. I lived in Virginia for years and I can safely say, I've felt spirits on the battlefields and in some of the older houses--not that ghosts like me that much, but that's a story for another day.

Haunted Virginia

In Northern Virginia, one haunted location is said to be Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria. According to local lore, it's haunted by several young women who died there in 1816. Visitors report sitings of apparitions wandering through the halls. Alexandria also has ghost tours that begin at Ramsay House. Heading to this tavern is on my list the next time I'm in town.

Old Post Chapel in Arlington National Cemetery is reportedly haunted by a figure sitting in the bridal room. Perhaps because it was once the mourning room. Reports of footsteps and locked doors opening by themselves suggest there is definitely more to the story. I never got to check that one out.

In Dumfries, the Weems-Botts Museum is said to have a ghost who likes to throw books and turn the lights off and on. The house was once home to a reverend who fabricated the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. The house was also a home to an attorney who defended Aaron Burr when the man was tried for treason. When I visited the museum, I saw the lights flicker, but none of the ghosts threw a book at me.

But my favorite is in Leesburg--the Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Loudon County. I lived in Leesburg for years, and that battlefield is the largest Civil War relic in the county. Some say you can see apparitions of soldiers climbing the bluffs...

On one visit there in 1998, I thought I glimpsed movement from the corner of my eye, but I never saw them when I stared directly at it.

So many stories and tales from the's no wonder that the town of Penny  Hollow in Haunt Me wants to brand itself the "Most Haunted Town in Virginia." 

Haunt Me releases on January 27.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Falling in Haunted Love

A funny thing happened in 1989, I went with a friend to see a movie and though the trailers and previews told me some of what would happen, I wasn't prepared for the journey that this film would take me on. Can there really be love after death? Can a ghost or a spirit truly have a relationship with the living? And honestly? How romantic can it be if the hero is dead?

The first film to answer this question was Always with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter. It was at times hilarious and other times deeply poignant. 

In the summer of 1990, the answer became even more the affirmative.  

Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg and Tony Goldwyn (long before his Scandal days) were the stars of this powerful film. To this day I cannot hear the song Unchained Melody without being immediately reminded of Sam and Molly and of course "Ditto."

A few years later, however, I saw a film that to this day I cannot watch without sobbing because of just how beautiful the story was--it was a tale about the power of love, and the determination of the spirit to never leave those he loved behind.

Robin Williams took my breath away with his performance, and I cite What Dreams May Come as one of the most profoundly beautiful films of all time. Love does go on...beyond death. These three films influenced me greatly when I wrote my upcoming release Haunt Me. Do you have a favorite ghost film? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Runaway to Watkins Pond with Virginia Nelson and her Runaway Groom

Once upon a time... My crit partner sent me a short she’d written and as I scanned the words, I laughed. No, not because it was bad—but because it was funny, but when I got to the end…it wasn’t enough. So I called her and said, “I have good news and I have bad news.” I could almost hear the tension over the phone.  “The good news,” I said. “It’s a great story, and it’s funny. The bad news? Dude, you have so much more here you can do.”

Thus began a three hour conversation where we batted stuff back and forth, but at the end of the day, I kept repeating the same litany over and over “play out all the beats.” I told her she had to bring it with this story, take us into these characters lives and make us a part of that town, and hoo-boy-howdy, did she do it.

What followed were several more chapters, deepening life in Watkin’s Pond and really investing us in Braxton and Abby. When I told her she needed to go further, make it longer, and take us on the journey, I didn’t realize what a great trip it would be. I saw the potential, but the difference between seeing potential and exploding the potential gloriously—well that’s Runaway Groom.

I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this book and how damn proud I am to have been a part of the process.  Nearly 18 months ago, we had a three hour conversation and today, you’ve got this book where you will laugh and sometimes growl at the characters, and before you know it, you’re rooting for them.

That takes talent and I can’t think of a better author—or book—to recommend today than Virginia Nelson and her new release: Runaway Groom.

He’s ready and waiting. She’s wanting…but wary.

Runaway Groom
Watkin’s Pond, Book 1
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

The groom is back in town.

Abigail lost her best friend years ago when he ditched her at the altar like a loaf of stale bread. Now he’s back and determined to do whatever he has to—even lie, apparently—to get under her skin. Although he makes her hormones rev to life in a way that no one has since he left, she is equally determined not to fall for his boy-next-door charm.

His bride-to-be is somewhat reluctant.

Braxton Dean was too young and stupid to know better when he walked away. Years of trying to fill the Abby-shaped hole in his heart have left him empty, and now he’s going to win back his girl—or get over her. But first he needs answers. Particularly why she never responded to any of his letters.
It might take a whole town to make this wedding happen.

With the help of their friends, the two battle it out. The army? An entire town of busybodies. The prize? Happily ever after.

Warning: Contains indignant old ladies, steamy sex (but not with indignant old ladies), seduction cake, and condom bouquets. Yes, we went there.

Enjoy the following excerpt for Runaway Groom:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Two of my favorite small town authors...

I can’t believe we’re almost to the release day of Runaway Groom!! *squeaks*

That said, I LOVE small town stories. Sweet Home Alabama might be my favorite small town movie, or maybe The Proposal and that little town in Alaska…wait, let’s talk about books because I am a HUGE fan of these two authors.

2. Mariah Stewart 

I have never in my entire life eaten as much ice cream as I did while I read Almost Home, The Chesapeake Diaries Book 3. Aside from writing a lovely and intimate small town, Stewart also made me want to visit it. I wanted to eat at the ice cream shop, fall in love with the hero, all of it. Just great stuff.

1. Kristan Higgins

I know, I know. If you’ve read my blog before or my facebook, you knew I’d mention Higgins. I’m a huge fangirl and if I ever meet her, I’m sure to be so speechless, someone will post a pic of it and share my frozen shock with the world. That said, she has SO MANY SMALL TOWN AWESOME BOOKS. From the Blue Heron series and the beauty of wine country to the Maine coast, Higgins transports us smack dab into a town full of folks who know each other and have such easy familiarity with each other that it is impossible to resist falling in love with them. Start with The Best Man if you haven’t read them. No, wait, do Until There Was You. No, ignore me…start with My One and Only. Oh, shoot…just read them all like I did and we’ll talk about them, okay?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Three recipes you can’t go wrong with in a small town

Since I can bake these, I know you can do it because I’m the worst baker in the WORLD. I burn water. Seriously, look at my facebook wall…I posted a pic the last time I burned water.

3. Taco Lasagna

First you fry up some ground beef, chicken, or whatever meat you’re taco-ing. Then you follow the instructions on the taco packet (add some water and the packet and cook it down, you know the drill.) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Once you have the meat, you can start layering. Put down some soft taco shells in a lasagna pan. (They have some fancy name for it, but me? I call it a lasagna pan, even though mine is glass.) Then you layer meat, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, more shells, maybe some onions, more meat, some taco sauce…whatever stuff you’d put on your taco. Add a final layer of taco shells and cover the whole mess with cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and serve up like lasagna. 

2. Mom’s Mac and Cheese

Boil noodles until they are done. When they are, drain them and then add a stick of butter and some velveeta chunks until melted…then splash in some water and sprinkle on some pepper. Comfort food? Done.

1 Alfredo Sauce

Get a big pan (I use the skillet my mama gave me) and melt a stick of butter and throw in some garlic (I like the chunky kind in oil, but you can use powder in a pinch.) Once it is melted, throw in a block of Philadelphia cream cheese. Stir, fast…until the cream cheese is combined and you have what looks like a giant white booger in the pan. Add shredded parmesan cheese and some milk until it takes on a creamy texture. Salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Four Reasons to Avoid Small Towns

4. We aren’t going to forget that thing you did…

I know, you were twenty. I know, you were drunk. I don’t care, we won’t forget. We’ll forgive you, since you grew up to be such a nice adult and all, but we won’t forget.

3. No, seriously…

Ever. We won’t forget. We’re telling your grandkids about it.

2. We really do only accept cash.

We don’t care that all the places you’ve ever been to before accept your little plastic card, we don’t. There is an ATM over there. Use that, bring us money. Kthxbai.

1. You may never want to leave.

We grow on you. Like mold. It might be insidious, but it happens. You’ll fall in love with us and you’ll put some roots down and you’ll never see a reason to live anywhere else…even if they don’t get buried in ten feet of snow and have a Starbucks. This will become home and that will be what matters at the end of the day.

You were warned. O.o

Friday, January 17, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Five Reasons to Live in a Small Town

5. You won’t get lost.

I mean, there aren’t that many roads.

4. Everyone knows you.

If they don’t know you, they know a whole lot about you because they’re friends with your relatives.

3. When something bad happens, they rally around you.

Seriously, whether you want them or not, your freezer will be full of food and folks will be stopping by to check in on you.

2. There is a sense of history.

We relive our glory days as often as possible. So, well, you know that if the rest of the world forgets you, we won’t. We’ll keep your memory alive long after you’re long gone by telling stories about you and smiling in remembrance.

1. Crime? We don’t have a lot of that.

You don’t have to lock your door like those city folks. You can bet if someone robs you, one of the neighbors saw it. Chances are good one of the neighbors went ahead and beat them up then called the cops for you. Like I said, we take care of our own.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Six things to do while you're visiting Watkin's Pond...

We’re more than happy to have you touristy folks stop on by and join us in our many celebrations. Here’s a list of six to put on your schedule for next year.

6. The Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival

Held every year when the leaves change color in October, we are very proud of our eighteen covered bridges. 2014 is the 31st festival and visitors aren’t just welcome, they’re encouraged. The festival highlights them and you can do driving tours to see them all. Each bridge usually has something set up to tickle your fancy, from the great cheesecake over at South Denmark Bridge to the maple candies over on Netcher Road. Stop on out and if you need more info, just check out the website.

5. The Grape Jamboree

Come by to say hello to Miss Grapette at our annual Grape Jamboree over in Geneva, Ohio. Since we have a unique microenvironment here in northeast Ohio, we’re quite proud of our wine country and are happy to share a glass of ice wine with you. Serving everything from grape milkshakes to freshly picked grapes (the festival is a celebration of the successful harvest, after all), the Jamboree happens in September of every year and this year is the 51st festival. For more info, you can check out the website

4. The Ashtabula County Fair

Over at the fairgrounds in the county seat, Jefferson, you can stop by in August for everything from tractor pulls to the derby. You can munch on a wide variety of foods from local vendors and Saturday night will be a concert of some sort.

3. The Great Lakes Medieval Faire

If you’re interested in a tournament, a joust, a life sized chess game or maybe just a turkey leg, the Medieval Faire is the place to be. Grab a chalice and rent a costume from the on-site costume vendor and drop back in time in weekends from July to August, rain or shine.

2. The Streetlight Sale

With snow drifting in puffy flakes and the whole town center lit up and music piping over invisible speakers, it’s hard not to find your Christmas spirit in downtown Jefferson in December. You can stop at local stores and shops and sign up to win a tree, watch the parade go through town or even take a horse drawn ride through the center of town.

1. The Strawberry Festival/Jefferson Days

In pioneer days, the local depot was a very important location. Visit our recreated historic village, stop in the depot for some homemade strawberry shortcake or drive out to one of the many strawberry farms and pick your own every June in Jefferson, Ohio.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Seven Small Town Truths

Life is simple in a small town. There are some things that we understand, though, that perhaps aren’t universal.

7. The carpet rolls up at nine.

No, seriously, like EVERYTHING is closed at about nine pm. I remember when we first moved out to Ashtabula county, Ohio, my older brother and I went out into the street and laid right down on the middle line of Main Street. NOTHING HIT US. There weren’t any cars. Then again, it was ten pm, so…

6. The restaurants are all PACKED at noon on Sunday.

Whether it is the bar crowd from Saturday night who just woke up and are looking for some nice greasy eggs or the church folks who just got out and are looking for lunch, the food places? PACKED at noon of a Sunday.

5. Tractors driving through the middle of town aren’t surprising.

How else were they supposed to get gas before heading back out to plow hay?

4. Those kids having dinner in the bar aren’t surprising either. 

What? It’s not nine pm yet, so folks are out getting a bite of dinner. Everyone knows the bar serves dinner until nine and then they turn the lights down for those out having a drink.

3. No, there isn’t a credit card machine. And what the hell is Paypal?

But you can run over to the ATM and get some money out and come back and pay your bill. It’s ok. We’ll wait. *stares*

2. Really good coffee means Maxwell House.

Espresso say whaaaaaat? Nope, no Starbucks here. What do you mean you pay five dollars for a cup of coffee?!?! Son, if you’re willing to do that, I have a real nice bridge to sell you.

1. We take care of our own.

Folks around here? They make sure no one is left behind and we know all about the mistakes you made. Don’t you worry, though. No one will rile you about them…except us.

Is your small town like this? Or is it just ours?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Counting it down to Runaway Groom : Eight Redneckified Fixes

Folks in my small town tend to make do quite a bit. Why go out and buy something fancy when you can simply fix it with things you have laying around?

That said, here are Eight Sure-Fire Fixes that I have tried and love. 

8. Pepsicola will fix everything.

We don’t drink pop in my house, not usually. We do however use it for quite a few things. Did you know that you can dump a can of pop in your toilet and wait a bit and flush and it cleans it sparkly clean? Also great for road haze, that waxy buildup on your windshield. You just dump a can on the windshield during a good heavy rain and – bam! – All better.

7. If it’s loose, use some duct tape.

I’ve used duct tape for so many things, it is ridiculous. I could give a list, but suffice to say…just duct tape it and it will be FINE.

6.  If it’s tight, use some WD-40.

Named after the formula, Water Displacement 40 is handy for almost as much as duct tape. Door squeakin? WD-40. Need to get that paint off that thing? WD-40. Kid colored with crayon on your wall? WD-40.

5. If it is smelly, use a lemon.

My sons will just eat them raw because they’re weird, but my first unusual use for a lemon was to pull off the peel and stick it in my flute case to make it smell better. It worked, brilliantly, and can be used for all musical instruments that I know of. You can use it to clean your cutting boards or other wood implements in the kitchen. You can use it to chase off ants or other creepy crawly critters. You can squirt it on apples or avocados to keep them pretty. When you’re all done, you can settle down with a nice glass of lemonade. 

4. If there is a hole in it, fill it with toothpaste.

Don’t tell my old landlords that I filled nail holes with toothpaste, but their walls are minty fresh and holeless and I tend to get my deposits back for my pretty former homes…

3. Flowers like booze.

Dump some vodka in your cut flower vase, take a good swig and then wait. You can drink some more if you want to while you wait, but they should perk back up for a while anyway. Plus, they just look better after you drank some vodka, don’t they?

2. EVERYTHING likes alcohol...

You can use rubbing alcohol to remove sharpie from non-porous, unpainted things (like a fax machine. *whistles*) or you can squirt them with hairspray to get it off. You can also use alcohol to clean mildew off your leather. If it is a jacket, just wear it to a party where folks are sloshed and they’ll dump stuff on you and you’ll be good as new…if smelly.

1. Get you some butt cream…

No, seriously, I learned this one back in my days of modeling. Hemorrhoid cream removes redness. Just dab a bit on your face if you have a zit or whatever. Another modeling trick was to tape things you didn’t want to fall out…like your boobs to your shirt. Just sayin.

Are you from a small town? What shortcuts/fixes do you use?

Monday, January 13, 2014

RELEASE DAY! Some Like It Royal is Here!

Available on Audible!

It’s The Role of a Lifetime…
Living out of a car and waiting tables to make ends meet is hardly the stuff of fairy tales. So when a gorgeous man approaches Alyx Dagmar with a wild story about her royal lineage and an even wilder proposition, the aspiring actress is sure he’s got the wrong woman.
Self-made billionaire Daniel Voldakov needs connections before he can expand his software business into Europe. A blue-blooded fiancĂ©e would open all the right doors—and Daniel’s certain he can tempt the pretty but penniless Princess Alyxandretta to accept the part she was born to play.
Alyx can’t resist Daniel’s offer, and throws herself into the role. But as the paparazzi fall in love with their “storybook romance,” Alyx finds herself drawn to Daniel in ways she’d never imagined. Are his returned affections true, or all just part of the plan?  He’ll do anything it takes to prove his love, and to make her see that the only happily ever after he wants is with her…the real her.
Don't miss the Facebook party!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Countdown to Some Like It Royal: 1 Cordial Invitation to a Release Party

Tomorrow is the big day! Some Like It Royal arrives! You are cordially invite to join us on Facebook for a week long release event with some of my favorite authors chiming in with prizes, giveaways and more.

RSVP now and don't miss a thing!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Countdown to Some Like It Royal: 2 Shows about Royal Shenanigans

I wanted to do a much longer list about television programs featuring royal families (chances are you have your favorites), but only two came to mind for me each time I tried to make this list. So here they are, the first is a far more graphic than the second--so consider yourself warned.

The Tudors

Originally aired on Showtime, The Tudors was a decadent look at the life and rule of Henry VIII. The series featured some fantastic sets, costumes and a wicked look at the life at court for those around Henry VIII as he argued politics, lust, and romance. The series also had Henry Cavill--naked at times. Did I mention naked?


This relatively new entry just began on the CW and I admit, I had my doubts when I heard about it and yes, it's not about the historical accuracy as it is the lush sets, the compelling stories and Bash. Oh yes, I'm all about the Bash.

Do you have a favorite television show about royals?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Countdown to Some Like it Royal: 3 Royal Babies

Yes, I know the wedding comes before the baby, but in this case, let's talk about those cute little cherub cheeks and all that fabulous potential and weighty expectations that are placed on these swaddled, bundles of joy. Okay or as Mini puts it, these swaddled bundles of "you are never going to sleep again."

Prince William, son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana

William stands out for me because I remember all the anticipation surrounding his birth. We'd watched his parents get married the year before and had been glued to the television set. Diana remains popular to this day and when William married it amazed me to see that young man who I still occasionally think of as that baby taking that next step into adulthood.

Princess Beatrice, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York

Sarah Ferguson made waves when she married Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II. She was nothing like Diana, and seemed a lot brassier and bolder. We Americans loved her, but never more so than with the birth of their daughter. Considering that Diana had two sons, it seemed time to add more princesses to the mix and Beatrice is a redhead--that's just awesome. 

Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Or as his parents are better known, Prince William and Princess Catherine. You'd have to have been living under a rock during the royal baby watch last year to miss this one, but young George has a lot to live up to with that name.

Do you have a favorite royal baby?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Countdown to Some Like It Royal: 4 Royal Scandals

We've been counting it down this week for Some Like it Royal and how can we talk about royals without mentioning their scandals? I'm not a huge scandal chases, but these four stand out to me as some of the silliest (and the sauciest).

Prince Andrew Dates a Porn Star

In the early 1980s, Prince Andrew dated an American named Koo Stark, until her past as a softcore film star surfaced. They split in 1982. I remember when this story broke, my grandmother was flabbergasted and that rarely EVER happened.

Harry is Naked and Drunk in Las Vegas

During an August 2012 weekend leave in Las Vegas with his military unit, Prince Harry and an unidentified woman were photographed naked and engaged in horseplay at a private party. Harry is hardly a newcomer to scandals, but there are some key things here: he was on leave, he was in Vegas, and the party was private.

Profiting After Death

This one is all kinds of squicky: After her death, Princess Diana's riding instructor, Major James Hewitt, acknowledged their five-year affair but denied rumors that he was Prince Harry's real father, saying that the affair started after Diana's second son was born. He was pretty much condemned by everyone--even the press.
Edward VIII Steps Down to Marry Divorcee

Forbidden to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson and still remain head of the Church of England, King Edward VIII chose love over duty and abdicated in 1936 after just a few months on the throne. The government nearly toppled, but the couple, redubbed the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, lived happily ever after.

Do you have a favorite "scandal"?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Countdown to Some Like It Royal: 5 Fictional Royal Countries To Visit

One of the best parts of creating your own country is making your readers want to visit it. When it comes to royal families, we have a lot of royalty in our world and even more countries with royal families--some are very tiny and some are huge. Then we have those are that are fictional. Don't try to book a trip to these, though, because they don't really exist.


The beautiful nation appeared in Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries. It seemed like a cross between Monaco and France, and any place that has Julie Andrews as a Queen (yes in the movies) is definitely a place I want to visit. Just think about it, Mary Poppins as Queen. Yes, I think I shall.


As featured in Nora Roberts' series The Cordina Royal Family, this principality is another one that reminded me of Monaco meets Greek Isle and who doesn't love a good royal scandal? Princes, princesses, action, adventure and more. Cordina has it all.


A little bit Monaco (are you sensing a theme here?) and a little bit Eastern European meets the Baltics, Moldavia shouldn't top your list of vacation destinations. It's the fictional country that was home to Prince Michael on the television series Dynasty and when they hosted a royal wedding...well, it got a little bloody.


This African nation would be a hoot to visit, particularly the palace. Introduced in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, Zamunda had some of the best garbed palace visitors, animals on the palace grounds, and bathers who...well, let's not go into too much detail there.


The picturesque little country is nestled somewhere in Norway and while the palace has been shuttered for a while, the ascension of a new Queen promises a heck of a party. But dress warm, I hear it's pretty FROZEN there even in summer. 

Yes, I went there.

What are some of your favorite fictional principalities?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Countdown to Some Like It Royal: 6 Disney Princes

Yesterday, I chatted about my favorite Disney princesses, so it seems only fair we talk about my favorite princes. Yes, I know the song goes "Someday My Prince Will Come"- yeah, unless it's one of these guys, he can keep right on riding.  So who made the cut? Who didn't? Arguably, not all of these guys were born princes (but then bad boys are attractive what can I say?).

Flynn Rider, Tangled

Not even close to being a prince, but Eugene remade himself into the roguish Flynn Rider and earned a hell of a reputation particularly after he stole Rapunzel's crown (which come to think of it was a pretty rotten thing to do to the King and Queen who'd been mourning their missing daughter for 18 years, but we'll forgive him because she did end up with it). Flynn earns high marks because he was snarky, entertaining, and ultimately willing to sacrifice himself to save Rapunzel--not to mention the man gives a hell of a haircut.

Prince Ali, Aladdin

100% manufactured courtesy of the Genie, Prince Ali was Aladdin's "pseudonym" for courting Jasmine. Still, gotta like a guy who comes with his own theme song, entourage, and snarky monkey. This street rat cleans up nice.

Prince Phillip, Sleeping Beauty

Arguably my favorite prince for years, first because he actually had a name other than "The Prince" because let's vague it up there guys. Two, he rebelled against his father and rejected a royal pre-arranged marriage to woo the girl in the woods (yes, they were the same person, but it still counts). And third, he actually did something pro-active to save his princess (besides finding a shoe or kissing the corpse). He battled a dragon, weeded through the thorns, and THEN he kissed his princess.

Prince Adam, Beauty and the Beast

I bet you didn't know that Beast's real name was Adam, but it was. So before the sorceress who knocked on the door in the middle of the night cursed him, he was apparently a good looking young man. Then of course, he became the Teddy Bear on Crack with a temper to match--but seriously, if you had to shave that face, you'd be cranky, too. Still, Beast fell for Belle, and he tried to change for her and ultimately, he let her go and he saved her from the wolves. But beyond all of that, he gave her a freaking library. Hello?

Prince Naveen, The Princess and the Frog

We didn't know him before he got turned into a frog, but you gotta give the guy points for propositioning a pretty lady into kissing him so that he will turn back into a prince. Even more props, that he did his best to protect her after she was turned into a frog. Of course, the ultimate irony is that it took their froggy marriage to turn her into a princess. Once they were human again, however, is when Naveen really proves his mettle by helping his princess open her dream and pursue her goals. Kudos to him.

Future Princes

Kristoff, Frozen

He has a reindeer for a pet, a brand new sled (after his old one was burned to pieces and dropped over a cliff), but what's amazing about Kristoff is how grounded he is. Meeting Anna, a princess isn't what floored him. That she was marrying someone she had JUST MET left him befuddled and my favorite line, of course, was that he didn't trust her judgment based on that alone. Still, he wanted to do what was right for her and tried to save her by running her to her so-called prince so he would kiss her and save her heart, but you know, even though THAT part didn't work out, he came back later to help again.

So who are your favorites?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Counting it Down to Some Like It Royal: 7 Disney Princesses

I can hardly talk about all things royal without bringing up Disney and their princesses. After all, like any other girl of my generation, I was weaned on Disney. I even got married at Disney World (but that's a story for a whole other day.)

Not all Disney princesses are created equal and I would argue that while we consider all Disney heroines princesses, they weren't always a "princess" to start with. I have my favorites, I'm sure you do, too!

The following list is in no particular order, but I'll share my thoughts on my favorite princesses as I go.

Aurora, Sleeping Beauty

I actually liked Aurora a lot, in large part because she was a genuinely nice girl whose real identity was kept a secret. Turns out the fairies had a good reason for keeping it from her--she was being hunted by Maleficent. I loved her dance with the faux prince created by the animals in the woods. If I had one item on my bucket list, that would be one I'd like to do. What? I'm just saying.

Belle, Beauty and the Beast

She's our rags to riches girl, because Belle wasn't born a princess. In fact, her father was considered the town kook--but she was beautiful (which the town folks noticed), and smart (which I noticed). She's also loyal, kind and really creative. She didn't truly start to fall for Beast until he introduced her to his library. Now that's my kind of princess.

Cinderella, Cinderella

Again, not born a princess though she was the daughter of a wealthy landowner. She gets the award for being way too nice for her own good. After her father passes away, she's forced into servitude by her wicked stepmother and abysmal stepsisters. Still, Cinderella doesn't let it get her down--she sings, she dances, and she still believes enough that a fairy godmother gets her into the royal ball. Me? I would have been lacing her family's food with laxatives cause they all needed to loosen up. Yes, I said it.

Jasmine, Aladdin

The girl had a tiger for a pet, 'nuff said. Course, you can also add feisty, independent and wanting to be anywhere but where she was which was cosseted behind high walls. No wonder Aladdin took her on a magic carpet ride.

Merida, Brave

Kudos to Disney, by the way for taking the concept of "princess" and needing to be "saved" to a different level. One of the things I admired about the film was that it was the story of love and acceptance between a mother and a daughter--and let's face it, this Chieftain's daughter was pretty bad ass in her own right. She didn't need a 'prince' to save her.

Elsa and Anna, Frozen

These two stole my heart in Frozen, hands down my favorite of all the Disney princesses. Elsa's love for Anna was so strong, she locked herself away to keep her sister safe and Anna adored her right back, she braved many natural disasters (including her own clumsiness) to save Elsa. While Elsa eventually is crowned Queen, they will always be my favorites.

So who are yours?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Counting it Down to Some Like It Royal: 8 (in)Famous Royal Families

One can argue that a great many of the royal families in the world are actually related--in Western Europe, they are nearly ALL related thanks to one monarch: Queen Victoria also known as the Grandmother of Europe. Christian IX, King of Denmark, is also known as the "father-in-law" of Europe. So just where do their descendants rule?

Their descendants currently occupy the thrones of Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and of course the United Kingdom. At the beginning of the first World War, their grandchildren ruled: Denmark, Germany, Greece, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. Few remember that Kaiser Wilhelm I was Queen Victoria's grandson through her eldest daughter (also named Victoria) and that the fabled Anastasia of Russia and all the children of Czar Nicholas II were also the great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria through their mother.

Makes for a tangled family tree, yes?

So what great royal families do you know?

The Windsors

This is an easy one. The Windsors are the current monarchs of Great Britain, though they were once considered the House of Hanover, the family house title was changed to Windsor after war with Germany. The head of the family is Queen Elizabeth II, her son Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir with Prince William and now Prince George to follow. The Windsors are the family most Americans know because we remain so closely tied with Great Britain.

The Hapsburgs

The House of Habsburg was an important royal house of Europe and is best known as supplying all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1452 and 1740, as well as rulers of Spain and the Austrian Empire. Originally from Switzerland, the dynasty first reigned in Austria, which they ruled for over six centuries, but a series of dynastic marriages brought Burgundy, Spain, Bohemia, Hungary and other territories into the inheritance. The dynasty’s motto is “Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry”, which indicates the talent of the Habsburgs to have their members intermarry into other royal houses, to make alliances and inherit territory.

The Romanovs

The Russian royal family dates back centuries and came to an abrupt end in one bloody night during World War I after the Bolsheviks rebelled and overthrew the royal family. The name Romanov however immediately conjures the image of Anastasia, the princess most hoped had survived the slaughter as rumors of her existence continued for years afterwards. 

The Tudors

When Henry Tudor (House of Lancaster) married Elizabeth of York (House of York) it united the two warring factions (War of the Roses) and began a new dynasty. His son, Henry VIII is probably one of the most infamous kings in England's history. Henry VIII was married six times, and beheaded two of his wives. All three of his children that survived from infancy also ruled after his death. His son Edward VI died while a young man and his eldest sister Mary I took the throne. She tried to undo all the changes her father did (including the schism with the Catholic Church), but she died without issue and her sister, Elizabeth I ascended the throne. The last of the Tudors, Elizabeth ruled England for nearly forty-five years, longer than any other Tudor monarch. 

The Plantagenets

Remember all the Shakespearean plays about the Plantagenets? Sure you do--look for any title that has a Henry in it. One of the longest ruling dynasties in England's history, the Plantagenet dynasty ended in the War of the Roses when the Houses of York and Lancaster (both cadet branches of the family) warred over who would hold the throne. It only took nearly wiping out most of the family to solve the issue and thus the House of Tudor was born from the ashes.

The Merovingians

What do you know about them that didn't come from a Dan Brown book? The first Merovingians were Chieftains of the Franks (from which France gets its name) and among the Franks, when a Chieftain died, his possessions and holdings were divided among his sons. Needless to say, this caused some disagreements.

Other notable royal families:

The Grimaldis

Though they are better known by their first names: Prince Albert II (son of Prince Ranier and Princess Grace.) The Grimaldi's rule Monaco, a principality.

The Medicis

Not a royal family originally, this powerful Italian family rose to wealth and prominence through trade and banking. They sponsored some of the greatest artists of their age, had several Popes and Cardinals come from their line and married into the wealthiest families in Europe including an alliance with France through Catherine d'Medici when she married the King. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Counting It Down to Some Like It Royal: 9 American Born Royal Love Matches

Yes, that's a mouthful of a title, but if I were to ask you to name an American princess--i.e. an American born woman who married into royalty, how many could you name? One? Two? Three? On average, it seems most can come up with three for sure and one or two can name four. Would it surprise you to know the number of Americans who've married into royalty is actually in the double-digits?

Our love affair with all things royal is well-rooted in American culture despite our rejection of wanting a monarchy to call our own (and no, celebutantes do not count as the American Monarchy). Unfortunately, not all of these royal stories have happy endings.

You cannot discuss Americans and royalty in the same breath without conjuring the image of Grace Kelly, the American actress who met a Prince while filming in Monaco and went on to marry him in a marriage that sent royal fever sweeping through the U.S. Grace Kelly, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, married Prince Rainier III of Monaco (civil ceremony) on April 18, 1956 in the Palace Throne Room in Monaco and (religious ceremony) on April 19, 1956 at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco. I remember watching the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer with my grandmother and her pointing out Grace Kelly among the attendants.

Other Notable American/Royal Love Matches

Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield (Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister), born in Southampton, New York, married Prince Stanislas Radziwill of Poland on March 19, 1959 in Fairfax, Virginia. She was his third wife and though they divorced in 1974, it's interesting American trivia to realize that the American Camelot and political dynasty of the Kennedys had ties to a royal family.
Julia Mullock, born in Pennsylvania, married Prince Yi Gu of Korea on October 25, 1959 at St George’s Church in New York, New York.  Did you even know Korea had a royal family? Though Korea isn't a monarchy, Yi Gu lived there with his wife and mother for many years and taught at Seoul University. Unfortunately, the couple did not have a happily ever after. His family forced him to divorce her in 1982 because she'd proven sterile, but he never remarried.

You might even think that Grace Kelly was the first American actress to become a Hollywood Princess, but she wasn't. Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York, married Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan known as Aly Khan, the son of Aga Khan III on May 27, 1949 in Cannes, France. This was a third marriage for the renowned Miss Hayworth and one that earned her some backlash because her courtship with Aly began while she was still married to Orson Welles. The couple had one child together and later divorced.

Did you know the United States also has Bonapartes? Elizabeth Patterson, born in Baltimore, Maryland, married Jerome Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon), later King of Westphalia, on December 24, 1803 in Baltimore, Maryland. Unfortunately, Emperor Napoleon I didn't care for his brother's marriage choices and sought to get it annulled. When the Pope refused to do it, he declared it done himself and would not budge on the issue where his brother was concerned. Elizabeth was already pregnant and her ship was refused at all French harbors. She later went to England and gave birth there and the State Assembly of Maryland eventually gave her a divorce. Jerome would go on to marry twice more, but Elizabeth raised her son in America.

Lisa Halaby, born in Washington, DC, married King Hussein I of Jordan on June 15, 1978 in Amman, Jordan. After her conversion, she became known as Queen Noor. After King Hussein I's death, she became known as the Dowager Queen of Jordan or Queen Noor of Jordan.

More recently, Americans who've tied the royal knot include:

Julie Elizabeth Huston Ongaro, born in Louisville, Kentucky, married Prince Robert of Luxembourg on January 29, 1994 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sarah Butler, born in Houston, Texas, married Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad of Jordan on July 5, 2000 in Amman, Jordan.

And let's add one American "prince" to the list: Christopher O’Neill, who holds dual citizenship from the United States and the United Kingdom, married Princess Madeleine of Sweden on June 8, 2013 at the Royal Chapel in the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.

So which ones did you know?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Counting It Down to Some Like It Royal - Top Ten Movies About Royalty

It's funny, royalty has always fascinated the public and why shouldn't it? There's this distance between 'us' and 'them.' A distance that is not easily bridged and their problems don't seem like ours--except in books or movies when we're allowed to be up close and personal with them. Some of the films on this list are about real royals and some are about fictional royalty, but what they all have in common is that feeling of knowing these monarchs and wanting to root for them.

Mrs. Brown 

Starring Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, it examined the life of the long-lived British monarch and her grief for her husband. One of the most well-known stories about Queen Victoria was her deep affection for Prince Albert, and her long mourning after he died. Dench was sublime as Victoria, and this remains one of my favorite films about the nineteenth century queen.

The Man in the Iron Mask

Based on the Alexandre Dumas novel, it's also one of my favorite DiCaprio films as he portrays two brothers--one the ruler of France and the other, his twin who has been consigned to live behind a mask in an impregnable fortress. Also featuring appearances by some older Musketeers, who in an effort to curb the excess of the wicked King, free his brother and seek to change France's future.

Henry V

Based on the Shakespearean play, which is of course based on history or at least the interpreted history of the time, the film stars Kenneth Branagh as the titular Henry and his war with France. It's brutal and dark and dirty, but I cannot listen to his St. Crispins Day speech without shivering!

The Lion in Winter

This is about another Henry, the II to be precise and stars Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Terry and so many more. All three of Henry II's sons want to inherit and then there's Henry II's fierce bride--Eleanor of Aquitaine who went to war against her husband and ended up being his prisoner. Unlike a certain later Henry, Henry II didn't execute his bride, because he still valued her council.


This is another film featuring Peter O'Toole as King Henry II and Richard Burton as the titular Becket. The two men were very close, the best of friends, and confidants, but the schism between them when Becket follows God's law rather than his king's becomes the root of the powerful story of struggle between monarch and church, and between two friends.

The King and I

The musical featuring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr is a different type of story--it's about humanizing the monarch for real as the western governess shakes things up in the palace of Siam. And there's singing and dancing. What? Don't judge.


Back to Britain we go with Cate Blanchett playing the part of Queen Elizabeth, heir to the throne of her sister Queen Mary, and their father King Henry VIII following the deaths of her siblings (Elizabeth was third after her brother's death and later Mary's, fourth if you consider Lady Jane Grey was queen for a whopping 17 days between her brother's death and Mary). Cate Blanchett is sublime as the young Elizabeth, raised under the threat of death from a very early age. Her mother is Anne Boleyn and was executed by Henry VIII, Mary both hated and loved her sister, and you get the feeling that Elizabeth both feared and loved Mary, but Elizabeth changed the face of Britain and became one of the longest reigning monarchs--she's also the last Tudor.

The Princess Diaries (I and II)

Anne Hathaway shone in the role of Mia, the princess of a tiny little country she'd never even heard of. Based on the series by Meg Cabot, this is one of those go to feel good movies about the transformation of a girl to a princess and a coming of age for Mia as she truly discovers who she is--and the second film has Chris Pine in it. Yum!

Coming to America

Yes, it's a comedy. Yes, it stars Eddie Murphy--but it's also a wonderful reverse tale of rags to riches in the sense that Murphy's prince is SOOO cossetted and protected and everyone harkens to his every whim, that he wants to find real love and a real woman, so he goes to America and learns the value of hard work, humility and humbleness. Arsenio Hall is a riot and I adored James Earl Jones as his father.

And my favorite film about a royal returns us to Britain one more time, only for a tale that is not often told. I am one of those people who does not see a 'love story' when I hear about how Edward VIII gave up the throne for the "woman he loved." His younger brother was then thrust into a role he'd never expected during one of the most defining period's in British history. George VI became an exceptional ruler, but he had to overcome a personal stutter and anxiety to do so, and for the first time, we get a real glimpse of what this must have been like in the brilliant film The King's Speech, staring Colin Firth as George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue. What truly makes this film stand out to me is that it is a story of friendship, and a story of love.

So what are you favorite films about Royals?

Some Like It Royal releases on January 13th!