Archive for October, 2012

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Toni Anderson

 

I met Toni Anderson when I joined the Montlake Romance authors loop. It gave me a chuckle to learn that after a career in marine biology that took her all over the world, she settled in the Canadian prairies about as far from an ocean as you can get. (Of course, the topography of the prairie is about as flat as the ocean, and maybe when the winter wind carves “waves” into the frozen snow, it probably looks like one…)

 

Toni also got my attention for another reason. She writes in my favorite genre – romantic suspense, and her books look awesome. Several of them are on my Kindle, in fact, waiting for me to stop fooling with the Interwebs and start reading. Her Montlake title, DANGEROUS WATERS, comes out very soon – specifically, Tuesday, November 20.

 

 

With that intro, I’ll turn you over to Toni.

 

TONI ANDERSON:  Until the beginning of September, I worked in a cupboard. It was a nice piece of furniture but there was no desk space and I had to raise my chair so high I couldn’t touch the floor—so I dangled my feet for 8 years. Nightmare. Finally I found a desk from Ikea that has adjustable legs and my hubby picked it up from Minneapolis when he drove to a conference down in the States. Ikea opens here on Nov 28th!!  (Yes, I’m excited LOL). Suddenly I have all this space AND my feet are planted firmly on the floor.

 

My office is a weird little open-plan room that attaches to the kitchen and what used to be the playroom and is now the ‘piano’ room (mainly because the only thing in there is a piano J). When the kids were small, open-plan was great. Now I’m thinking ‘doors’!

 

 

I’ve surrounded myself with books (fiction, non-fiction), tools of the trade (computer and printers etc, and, yes, I need a proper monitor stand J), magazines and images of my heroes and heroines on corkboards because I’m a very visual person. There’s a picture of me and hubby kissing at a recent wedding, and the kids with the Eiffel Tower in the background. And there’s a poster of a couple of cowboys in the Alberta mountains, given to me by a friend, Rich Brown, back when we worked together at the University of Waterloo. And a teapot my in-laws gave us which DH broke. It’s too beautiful to throw out though.

 

 

 

 

The boxes are full of research material. Each story or linked group of stories get their own box. Some are almost empty and some are full to the gunnels. I store all my notes in the box so when I want to work on a specific story, the information I need is easy to find.

 

 

 

And here’s my little Merrythought bear that my mom sent me (we both used to work in the Merrythought shop in Shropshire, years ago), and my other companion, Holly, who’s a little mad because I’m taking photographs rather than walking her. She gets the spot closest to the radiator!

 

 

Thanks for having me today, Norah J. I’ll gift a copy of SEA OF SUSPICION from my backlist to one lucky commenter.

 

 

 

Check out Toni’s website and Amazon Author Page for a list of current titles.

 

Thank you, Toni! That was an awesome tour. And LOL on your excitement to get an Ikea. I’m envious! I doubt we’ll ever have the critical mass down east to get one of our own.

 

Okay, let the commenting begin!

Cooking for your dog

 

When we recently acquired a cat (a stray we’ve named Ruckus), I started feeding it dry kibble because I feed my dog dry kibble. Then it occurred to me to go online and research cat diets. As it turns out, dry kibble is NOT a great diet for cats. Generally, it’s too high in carbohydrate and contributes to obesity, but more importantly, cats don’t have a high thirst drive. On a dry diet, they really ought to be drinking a lot more than they probably are, which can lead to kidney and all manner of other problems. So I started buying commercial canned cat food for my cat.

 

 

 

While I was online researching  cat diets, I checked out dog diets, expecting to find confirmation that I was doing the right thing, feeding my dog a high quality, meat-first dry kibble. Whoops. Turns out the only good argument for dry kibble is my convenience.

 

I actually used to cook for my beloved dog Bandicoot (below with my daughter)  in his geriatric years, after he had most of his teeth extracted, so cooking for a dog is not a foreign concept.

 

 

But after we lost Bandy and acquired a youthful Rotti/Lab cross, I went back to feeding dry kibble. I had always heard dry food was better for your pet’s teeth. After all of Bandy’s tooth trouble, I wanted to do everything I could for Chloe. Um…turns out that that’s a complete myth. Dry dog food does nothing to clean their teeth anymore than eating biscotti is going to clean yours. Also, what I read suggested it often contains too much corn and wheat and soy and other filler, is cooked at high heat which destroys a lot of nutrient, and is jam-packed with preservatives. The collective wisdom seemed to be to either feed canned food (which doesn’t need all that preservative) or prepare my own. After pricing good quality commercial canned food for a 38 kg dog, making my own was a no brainer.

 

From what I gather, the recipe should be 50% meat, 30% carb (ie, rice, potato or pasta) and 20% vegetable. The vegetables have to be pretty much pureed to improve digestion. There are ways to supplement the food to ensure it meets all your dogs vitamin and mineral requirements (e.g., adding dulse powder, crushed egg shells, etc.), but I bought a liquid supplement that I just toss on Chloe’s morning meal. I also give her two capsules of fish oil with her nightly meal and sometimes toss on a few sardines. You can also give them a dollop of plain live-culture yogurt.

 

I make the dog food with either a whole chicken, stewed, de-boned and chopped up, or ground beef. I sometimes use whole wheat pasta for the carb just to change things up for Chloe, but I’m really not that keen on feeding wheat. Thus the carb source is almost always brown rice.  The recipe pictured below uses ground beef, brown rice (I throw a clove or garlic into the rice for the last 20 minutes), sweet potato and broccoli.

 

 

Chloe loves her new diet. And I’m hoping it will help her shed a few pounds, by cutting out all that corn and soy and other stuff that’s not good for her.

 

I’m also making her walk longer. It helps that I feed her first. We used to walk before breakfast and supper, and I think that’s one of the reasons she always wanted to turn around and go home before the walk was done! Here’s Chloe dressed up for our ramble in the woods and fields. (Wardrobe by Remington.)

 

 

A caution: if you’re going to cook for your pet, I urge you to educate yourself. There are quite a few things you must NOT feed your dog (onions, grapes, fruit with pips or seeds still in them, raisins, excessive amounts of broccoli, walnuts, chocolate, etc.).

 

So, anyone else out there cooking for a pet? Got a favorite recipe you’d like to share? I’m all ears!

 

 

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Susannah Sandlin

 

My guest today is fellow Montlake Romance author Susannah Sandlin. Susannah is the author of dark paranormal romance set in the Deep South. I really sat up and took notice of her when I saw the cover for the first book in her Penton Vampire Legacy series. At least once a year, a gorgeous cover will hit me like a freight train. Last year it was Trish McCallan’s Forged in Fire. This year, it’s Susannah’s Redemption. And the other covers in the series are just as delicious, as you can see for yourself.

 

 

I’ve got Redemption cued up in my Kindle as my next read, so Susannah’s appearance is very timely. Take it away, Susannah!

 

SUSANNAH SANDLIN: Thanks for having me here today, Norah! Or should I say “Welcome to the Bat Cave”?

 

After living in New Orleans for many, many years, I moved five years ago to bucolic (really!) Auburn, Alabama, to take a university job. When I was house-hunting, I came upon a property that had a lot of pros and cons. I didn’t like the steep, short driveway, or the fact that the house was two stories. After living so long in a century-old Victorian cottage oozing charm, this house felt too modern and generic.

 

But there was a room upstairs that wouldn’t leave me alone and ultimate made the decision for me. It was a large, undefined space that had hideous dark green wallpaper with honest-to-God polka dots on it, but it had a window seat and—best of all—one wall was floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves beautifully handmade by the former owner. It had hardwood floors. I could turn it into a guest room and have a place for all my books.

 

Or, as it turned out, I could make an office. At that time, I had spent my career as a feature writer and editor and had no plans to write novels. Six months later, I started writing one. I’m still not sure how that happened but the fiction-writing bug bit, and bit hard.

 

I wrote my first two novels sitting on the daybed using a 12-inch laptop on a wooden TV tray, surrounded by polka-dotted wallpaper. Finally, I decided this really wasn’t a phase I was going through and if I were going to write seriously I needed an office. So I bought some paint, a desk, a real chair, and a bigger laptop. Slowly, my undefined space became my version of Fiction Central.

 

So, here’s the control panel of the Mother Ship, where I write my novels, columns, and my daily book blog, Preternatura.

 

 

Having a daily book blog (plus being a lifelong bookworm) means I am buried under books. This is one of three “To Be Read’ shelves.

 

 

From my desk, I can swivel my chair and reach one of two shelves of reference materials I use in my novels. On this one are such titles as The Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy, Encyclopedia of the Undead, The Pirates Lafitte, Voodoo in New Orleans, a Field Guide to Demons, and The Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Crystals and Gemstones. Um…yes, I do write paranormal. How did you guess?

 

 

Since I do this book blog, I always have a shelf of ARCs and review copies. Here’s the current collection.

 

 

I still consider New Orleans my hometown, so I like to have lots of NOLA stuff around me. I have a bunch of Mardi Gras trinkets, but also art. Here are two of four in a series by my friend Mario Ortiz, a genuine free spirit who paints in prolific spurts, plays rock and roll, and does whatever it takes to get by. Not a 9-to-5 guy, our Mario.

 

 

This is a painting by my friend Deborah Brooks, which she did for me as a gift just before my first book came out. It’s of Pirate’s Alley in New Orleans’ French Quarter, and has a lovely, moody feel to it.

 

 

I don’t know the artist’s name of this small oil painting that was a gift from another friend. It shows the Lafitte Blacksmith Shop bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

 

 

There are always the books I’m currently reading or reviewing and some magazines on the desk—plus a great typewriter “piggy bank” my friend Dianne gave me, probably in hopes I’ll eventually make a living at this writing thing!

 

 

Here’s my little collection of my own books, so far. I’ll have a couple of new ones to add soon!

 

 

Finally, here’s Author Central, where the magic occurs. Note the ever-present Coke Zero and the ever-present iTunes icon in the lower right corner of the screen (currently at 4,021 songs), I have a slide show of my book covers that plays onscreen.

 

 

And that’s my space! Thanks for visiting today!

 

Thank you for that tour, Susannah. I adore your art! Unless I miss my guess, we’re going to get some comments on those lovely paintings.

 

Speaking of comments, that’s what you need to do for a chance to win Susannah’s great giveaway. She has generously offered two prizes — a signed copy of the first book in the Penton Legacy series, Redemption (paranormal romance/Montlake) pictured above, and the first book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, Royal Street (urban fantasy/Tor), pictured below, by Susannah’s alter ego Suzanne Johnson. On Susannah’s behalf, I’ll reserve the right to substitute an electronic version of the book, should one of our winners be outside the US or Canada, due to the prohibitive costs of mailing material internationally.

 

Oh, and if you’re in the Christmas mood, you might want to check out Suzanne’s Christmas in Dogtown. Just sayin’.

Okay, let the commenting commence!

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Shéa MacLeod!

 

I first met Shéa MacLeod on an author discussion group where we were both learning the ropes of self-publishing, and have been a fan ever since. And I mean that in every way. I love her urban fantasies to death, but I’m also just a Shéa fan. Her brand of charm, sass and geekiness is irresistible. I was not at all surprised when Montlake Romance acquired Shéa’s exciting Sunwalker Saga series, making her a Montlake sister. Today it gives me great pleasure to introduce her to you. Take it away, Shéa,

 

 

Shéa MacLeod: Hi Norah, thanks for having me! This series on workspaces has been so much fun. Mostly because I’m incredibly nosey. :) Also, I’m a HUGE fangirl of some of the authors you’ve featured so it’s been doubly awesome being able to poke about where the magic happens.

 

I’m afraid my space is rather dull in comparison. I only just moved back to the US at the beginning of June and into my apartment at the end of June.  So, I haven’t quite “settled in” yet. But I’ll tell you what, when I saw the Campaign Desk at World Market I absolutely HAD to have it! That was the first thing I bought for my office. My cousin and my uncle managed to wrangle it up three flights of stairs (It’s made of real wood so it’s super heavy) to the second bedroom which is now my workspace.

 

 

 

Along one wall I have the matching bookshelf. These days I mostly buy ebooks, but I have a few special paper books I keep and I like having them out where I can see. On the top shelf I’ve got my “plotting” notebooks where the first ideas for my novels take shape.

 

 

On the second shelf between the two ladies you can see my books in actual paperback. SQUEE! (PS. My cousin and I have decided those ladies are us when we’re older. I’m the redhead and she’s got the pink Mohawk.)

 

 

On the left side of the office I have a comfy little chair and lamp. It’s a great spot for reading, editing, or just dreaming up how to torture my protagonists!

 

 

There are a few things in my office which are really special to me. For one I always have a mug handy. Usually full of coffee. This is one of my favorites.

 

 

The little dragon box is a great place for storing important things like flash drives. It’s from my friend and fellow author Tara West. A little housewarming present. Perfect, don’t you think? It makes me smile every time I see it and it’s very inspirational while I’m working on my Dragon Wars series.

 

 

Talk about inspiration! This little knight’s dagger is something I’ve had for AGES (Used to hit every Ren Faire I could) and it inspired Morgan Bailey’s weapons in the Sunwalker Saga.

 

 

And finally, my boxes of books! I have nowhere else to keep them so they pretty much sit in boxes in the corner where I can pet my pretties whenever I want.  :)

 

 

My office is pretty much a “work in progress” right now. I need more bookshelves (Who doesn’t!) and I’d like to get up some cork boards where I can tack various things that inspire me. Like this guy! (Sorry, had to slip him in there.)

 

 

Anyway, thanks all for stopping by. And thanks, Norah, for having me! It’s been fun showing you all around the Batcave.  Er, I mean office.

 

 

Thank you for that tour, Shéa! I don’t know what I love more, those bookends or the dragon box! And I too am going to have to get a cork board. :)

 

Okay, on to the giveaway! One lucky winner will win signed print copies of the first two books in Shéa’s Sunwalker Series, Kissed by Darkness and Kissed by Fire. (You’ll see all three covers below, but the third book, Kissed by Smoke, is not yet out. Readers will have to wait until Christmas day for that puppy!)

 

NOTE that the print offer is open to winners in the US and Canada. International winners are still eligible to win, but because of the prohibitive cost of mailing, Shéa would be happy to substitute Kindle copies. Heck, if you’re in the US or Canada and simply prefer to read electronically over print, I’m sure Shéa would be happy to gift you the prize in Kindle format.

 

 

 

Let the commenting begin!

 

Excerpt from Saving Grace (Serve and Protect, #2)

 

Posting the excerpt from Guarding Suzannah last week was so much fun, I’m going to do it again for Book 2 in the series, Saving Grace.

 

 

To set the scene, Fredericton Police Detective Ray Morgan has been forced to take the wife he believes has been unfaithful on the lam with him while he tries to figure out who is trying to kill them. She’d shocked him to the core  a week ago when she’d announced she was leaving him to go join some unnamed other man, but she’d wound up crashing her car on the way out of town and no longer remembers anything. Not the name of the guy, not even the fact that she was having an affair. Her neurologist says the memories may come back, but she needs time and peace and rest. That plan goes out the window when bullets start flying and Ray gets jammed up by an internal investigation he fears is a frame job. He has to keep them safe until he can unravel the mystery and safely go back to his life. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with his wife of five years, for real this time.

 

 

Ray was right, Grace thought, as she clutched the towel around her shoulders. Her hair had always been her “thing”. A full, rich sable, it fell perfectly straight with the lightest encouragement with a brush and blow dryer. Everything else about her might be forgettable, but people noticed her hair.

It seemed only right somehow that she should sacrifice it.

“Okay, give me some guidance, here.”

Poor Ray. He’d dodged bullets back there in that parking lot without breaking a sweat, but his hands were shaking now. She pretended not to notice.

“Just comb out a small section, then pull it tight between your fingers.”

“Like this?”

“Closer.”

“Forget it, Grace. I’m not cutting it that short. There’d be nothing left for the hairdresser to fix.”

“But that’s hardly short enough to make any difference.”

They compromised, agreeing on a mid-length.

“Okay, what now?”

“Just angle your fingers like so.” She used her own fingers to demonstrate.

“Like this?”

“Perfect. Now snip away.”

He muttered something that sounded like “Hail Mary,” and snipped.

The coppery lock fell onto her denim-covered knee. No going back now. For a moment, panic assailed her.

“Grace?”

She cleared her throat. “That’s good. Keep going.”

The second lock fell, this one hitting the newspapers, joining Ray’s impossibly blond hairs. She blinked rapidly. It was just hair. An external manifestation of her stupid vanity. She would not cry.

Besides, her old precision haircut was fine for the woman she’d been before this nightmare started. The new Grace needed something different. It was going to take all the courage she could scrape together to get through this. Just as her smooth coif had given her poise and polish, maybe a sassier color and a rough-and-ready cut would lend her the edge she needed.

Image was everything, right? Fake it until you can make it.

“What do I do with the front?”

She glanced up at Ray. His mouth was set in that way that made his jawbones stand out, the grooves bracketing his mouth deeper than ever. He looked like a man completely out of his depth and hating it.

“Leave it fairly long, about so.” She indicated a spot at the level of her cheekbone.

“Christ, I’m probably making a mess of this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she assured him. “With all the mousse and hair spray I bought at that drug store, I could probably make it look like the CN Tower, if I wanted to.”

That earned a laugh, but when he made the next snip, his jaw had again taken on that grim line. The chair wasn’t high enough, she noticed. He had to bend to do the job, which must be killing his back.

And that’s not all she noticed, now that her panic had passed. His hands were clumsy in her hair, compared to the brisk competence of her stylist. But they were gentler, too. He separated the next section delicately, easing the comb through a snarl. She shivered.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay. It doesn’t hurt.”

But it did hurt. Quite suddenly, it hurt a lot. It hurt that this was the first time he’d voluntarily touched her for so long, apart from that display they put on for the clerk.

And, oh, that scene in the office! She dropped her eyelids, her face heating at the memory. The way he’d touched her….

She clamped down on the warmth flooding her belly. Nothing had changed. Their performance had been necessary to divert the clerk’s attention.

Still, awareness shimmered through her when he pushed his fingers through her hair again.

“Almost done. Then you can get that cold towel off your shoulders,” he said, obviously mistaking her shiver.

True to his word, he was soon finished. Grace didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed when he pronounced her done. Removing the towel from around her neck, she strode to the closet-sized bathroom to inspect her new appearance. She flipped the switch for the overhead light and froze.

Yikes! Was that really her? Her eyes looked huge, her chin more pointed. Lord, it even seemed to lift her cheekbones.

Ray’s reflection appeared behind her in the mirror. “What’s the verdict?”

“Wow.”

“Sorry,” he said gruffly. “I told you it was a mistake.”

“No, it’s good. You did a better job on me than I did on you.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Really. A little mousse and a blow dryer and it’ll kick butt.”

He just regarded her in the mirror, unspeaking, a yellow-haired stranger.

She pushed a tendril of hair behind her ear and sighed. “I suppose I should style it now, so we can hit the road.”

“No, let’s get a few hours sleep first. We can finish our transformations in the morning.”

She met his gaze in the mirror. “I thought we were going to sneak away under cover of night?”

He shook his head. “Better to blend in with rush hour traffic tomorrow morning than travel tonight. I just wanted to pay for the room in advance so we wouldn’t have to show ourselves to the clerk after we’d morphed.”

“We actually get to grab some sleep?”

The corners of his mouth turned up at her obvious relief, his eyes crinkling the way she loved. She smiled back into the mirror. For a few seconds, despite their altered appearances, they were the old Ray and Grace, but then his face sobered again.

“You take the bed; I’ll sleep in the chair.”

He turned and left the bathroom, leaving her staring into the mirror at the empty spot where he’d stood. She drew a deep breath, then followed him.

“That’s not going to work, Ray. You’ll insist on driving tomorrow, which is fine, but that means you’re the one who needs the rest. I’ll take the chair tonight, then doze in the car tomorrow.”

“I can sleep anywhere, Grace. It’s part of the training. You, on the other hand, would sit awake all night, and we can’t have that. We’re both gonna have to be sharp.”

And you’d rather wake up with a cricked neck, a sore back and a killer headache than share that bed with me.

She felt like crying again, which was really stupid. He’d slept on the couch every night since she’d come home from the hospital. Why should it hurt that he sleep elsewhere again?

She shrugged and turned away. “Suit yourself,” she said, picking up a t-shirt and disappearing back into the bathroom.

 

Hot Autumn Nights Blog Hop – Nov. 29 – Dec 2

 

 

Coming Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, the fabulous Hot Autumn Nights Blog hop! I just jumped on board. :)  The grand prize will be a gift certificate from Barnes & Noble. Last time I checked, it was at $60, but it will no doubt grow as authors come on board the hop.

 

I will also have a great giveaway at my own site – a Gift Certificate for the equivalent of $15 US at the online bookstore of your choice (depending on where in the world you are, and provided they have a gift certificate program I can buy into!). I will also give away some ebooks. Can’t wait!

 

In the meantime, why not help yourself to my free 15K novella, NEEDING NITA? A quarter of a million other readers have!

 

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Trish Milburn

 

I’m especially delighted to have Trish Milburn as my guest today. Trish is a fellow member of the Wet Noodle Posse (or Noodlers, if you prefer), otherwise known as the RWA Golden Heart® finalling class of 2003. In fact, the WNP will be celebrating 10 years of noodly goodness when we all converge at the Romance Writers of America’s National Convention in Atlanta this year, and I cannot wait!

 

Trish is a gifted, prolific and versatile author. She writes emotional, heart-warming Harlequin Americans, as well as single title small town romances, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, and possibly my favorite – awesome YA. (Like this one below. Magick is the third book in Trish’s Coven trilogy from Bell Bridge Books.) She is also a huge Joss Whedon fan-girl and a Supernatural fanatic. In other words, she is made of sheer awesomeness.

 

 

Take it away, Trish.

 

TRISH MILBURN: Thanks for having me here today, Norah. I’m loving this series on workspaces because I enjoy seeing where other writers work, the things with which they surround themselves for inspiration. So here’s a peek at my office.

 

It’s one of the two bedrooms that face the street and gets a lot of afternoon sun. That means that it gets hot in the summer and I usually have a fan going in addition to the AC, but it’s nice in the winter because I’m such a cold-natured person and I need heat and sun. As you walk into the room from the hallway, you see my desk and main computer straight in front of you. I’ve added a small, secondary desk behind where I sit to hold file folders and my fax/copier.

 

 

But before you get to the desk, both walls as you enter the room are filled with maps. I love maps, and I collect ones from all of the National Park units that I visit. The long one on the left as you enter is of the Appalachian Trail. I have this dream of hiking the trail someday. Also on that wall is one of Yellowstone National Park, where my sister worked for a year. It’s such a surreal and gorgeous place, and I’ve only been able to visit a tiny fraction of all it has to offer. The final map on that wall is of all the National Park Service units. I have a goal of visiting all 300+ of them. The two framed photos are from my honeymoon almost 20 years ago. The waterfall is in Chimney Rock Park in North Carolina, where they filmed one of my favorite movies, Last of the Mohicans. The other is of Myrtle Beach at sunrise.

 

 

On the opposite wall are a map of the world and my giant map of the United States with all the counties in every state outlined. The ones highlighted in yellow are ones I’ve been in. Eventual goal is to visit them all. Yes, I’m a road trip kind of girl, how did you guess? :)

 

 

Also against this wall is my deadline schedule. This is for major deadlines for books and freelance articles.

 

 

My office is filled with things that make me happy. I think part of this is because I spend so much time in there, and partly because I never had my own room. I went from sharing with my sister to sharing a dorm room to getting married to the wonderful hubby. So my office is my space filled with my personality and interests. You can see that by the posters on the wall – Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings and Supernatural.

 

 

A closer look shows a stack of the books I’ve had published, my Firefly figurines, my Doctor Who sonic screwdriver (Are you getting the geek-girl theme yet?), and a photo of me with my editor, agent and another Harlequin employee at Walt Disney World. Just out of this shot are my bear figurines, a picture of me with my husband, and my baby shoes that I brought home last year after my father passed away.

 

 

Above my desk is the framed piece of artwork by Rebecca Sinz that my husband commissioned for me. It depicts Jax, the main character in my Coven young adult series. I did mention my hubby was awesome, didn’t I? :)

 

 

In the other front corner of the room are some of my huge collection of books, my little TV, DVD player and the TiVo I bought myself when I sold my first book. I’m a big TV and movie fan, but sometimes deadlines are pressing and I can’t stop to watch my favorites when they’re on. I’d love to kiss whoever invented TiVo.

 

 

And finally, this is where the magic happens. LOL. While I spend a lot of time at my desktop computer doing e-mail, social networking, freelance articles, and work for my part-time job, I actually write books on my laptop, a lot of that writing happening in this old but comfy piece of a section couch. The truth is that I tend to do a combo of writing and watching TV. For whatever reason, it works to help me actually produce more pages. I write X amount of pages, then I get to watch a segment of a recorded program in between commercials. Then I have to write X more pages before I get to watch more. It’s the reward-for-good-behavior method of writing. J You’ll might also notice my little Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore from Disney World sitting atop the filing cabinet. I love Disney World, and Pooh is one of my all-time favorite characters.

 

 

When it’s nice, I’ve been known to take my netbook out to a nearby park by the lake and write at a picnic table, and when it’s cold in the winter, I sometimes write in bed with my feet and legs under the covers because, quite frankly, I’m a total wimp when it comes to cold weather. I get cold in November and often don’t thaw until April.

 

Thanks again for having me here today. I look forward to reading more of your Workplace Wednesday posts.

 

Thank you for that tour, Trish! I’m blown away by your workspace. Love it! And omigosh, that map! You are one well-traveled gal.

 

Okay, folks, it’s giveaway time! All you have to do for a chance to win is to comment on this post. To be won is a complete set of Trish’s American Romance “Teagues of Texas” trilogy. Ain’t it purdy?

 

 

 

Excerpt – Guarding Suzannah

 

Just for fun, here’s an excerpt from Guarding Suzannah, Book 1 in my Serve and Protect Series. The books are available singly, or you can get them all at once in the box set.

 

 

“Rise and shine, sweetheart.”

Suzannah groaned and tried to burrow deeper into the pillows, grasping at the threads of her lovely dream. Hard masculine hands on her body, gravel-voiced words of praise in her ear, hot mouth blazing over her skin….

“Come on, Suzannah. I got a dog at home whose gonna pee on my brand new speakers if I don’t get home and let him out.”

Her eyes flew open. John Quigley. He’d stayed last night, and now he was in her bedroom. She jackknifed up, the twisted sheets pooling in her lap. “Of course. Go. Yes. By all means.” Oh, Lord, she was stammering.

“It’s early yet, barely dawn. I’d stay longer, but the dog….”

“The speakers. Right.” She pushed her hair back from her face and glanced at the digital alarm. Not yet five a.m. She glanced back at John to find his face had changed, sharpened with an edgy, dark intensity.

Oh, hell! Her nipples thrust sharply against her thin cotton tank, thanks to that dream. A dream in which the man standing by her bed, mere inches away, had played a starring role. For a wild, terrifying second, she visualized herself reaching out to touch him as she might have in the dream, her caress bold, sexual, deliberate. There wasn’t a shred of doubt in her mind that he’d answer her need with gratifying urgency.

The idea was scary, dizzying, thrilling, incredibly powerful. Then sanity returned.

She sank back down onto her pillows, pulling the covers up to her chin and burrowing back into her pillow as though to go back to sleep. “Okay,” she mumbled through the sheets. “Thanks for letting me know.”

“Whoa, whoa. Don’t go back to sleep just yet. I need you to throw the deadbolt behind me. It’s getting lighter by the minute, but I’d feel better if the bolt were thrown.”

Damn. “Okay.” She sat up again, this time with the sheets modestly clamped to her chest. “Give me a sec. I’ll drag on a robe and meet you down there.”

His eyes said eloquently that he wished she wouldn’t bother with the robe, but he merely nodded and withdrew.

The moment she heard his tread on the stairs, she leapt out of bed. Damn it, damn it, damn it! She strode into her walk-in closet and yanked a silk robe off a hanger with less care than the garment deserved. Of all the men in her world for her to fixate on, why this one? He was arrogant, pushy, exasperating in the extreme. Too tough, too forceful, too … yang.

And he was a cop.

So why did her body light up for him as it did for no other?

Chemistry. Random, unreasoning, unfortunate chemistry.

She pulled the robe on, wrapping it around her. Well, she never had been very good at chemistry back in school. And she’d get along very well without it fogging her brain again, thank you. On that thought, she cinched the belt of her robe tightly around her waist and marched downstairs to lock Detective John Quigley out of her house, and with any luck, out of her life.

 

 

Random reads from my Kindle library

 

I have over 400 books on my Kindle. That’s 40 pages, with 10 titles per page. Kind of overwhelming! I know I need to do more reading, but I was flummoxed about where to start. Since I’ve been using Random.org to pick winners on my blog, I decided to use it to pick  my next five reads.

 

Actually, I picked six reads, but as it turns out, I didn’t enjoy one of them enough to finish it. I won’t mention the title or author. Indies have a hard enough go of it to build an audience, and I am acutely aware that just because a book doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else.

 

Okay, so here’s a mini-roundup/review of the five I did finish and enjoy.

 

  1. Operation Endgame (When the Mission Ends), by Christi Snow – $2.99 || |I really enjoyed this story, which is Christi Snow’s debut. It’s a romantic suspense of the woman-in-jeopardy variety where the heroine (Cassie) has a stalker and the hero (Jake) is trying to protect her. But Caissie is a jock and an expert in military strategy, so she’s not exactly the helpless female. That said, Caissie did do a few things that had me screaming at my Kindle, “No! Don’t do that!” You know, like when you’re watching a horror movie and you just know what’s going to happen if character X does action Y and you’re helpless to stop it. I actually liked both characters – who had delicious chemistry, and the plot kept me guessing. Oh, and here’s a twist – when was the last time you read a romantic suspense that was also a friends-to-lovers story? I don’t know that I ever have, but it worked. My verdict? I’ll be buying the next one in this series. :)  
  2. Bleed for Me (Vampire Romance), a novella by Cynthia Eden – $0.99 || Loved this one. Full stop. I know with novellas people often say, “I wish it was longer!”. Well, I wasn’t left with that feeling at all. To me, it was a perfectly constructed story that took exactly as long as it needed. Now that’s talent! I loved these characters from page 1. Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, takes one look at Terese Lafitte, a newly-minted vampire, and knows he has to have her. But Terese comes complete with issues over the “monsterhood”, as well as a psychotic stalker. God or not, Apollo has his hands full. I can’t say I was surprised to love this one so much, since Cynthia Eden is such a fine writer.
  3. Space Rats and Rebels, by Mimi Riser – $2.99 || This was a positive and unexpected delight. I’ve read Mimi Riser before and knew it would be a solid, quality read, but I was ambivalent about the genre. I adored Firefly, but as a rule, I don’t glom space operas. I’m going to have to re-evaluate that stance. Mimi Riser has a talent for story telling and a light touch with comedic relief. Here’s the description: “In a conquered galaxy of the far future, only two rebel groups still dare to resist the plague of tyranny – the solar system Gaeas-7 at one end, and the RAT fleet at the other. But the Gaeans and RATs don’t know of each other’s fights, and both are facing imminent destruction. Will they be able to join forces in time for one last desperate stand against an overwhelming evil?”  I lapped it up. :)  
  4. That Kind of Magic, by Ceri Hebert – $2.99 || This was a really recent acquisition, one of those that I bought not only to support a fellow indie author, but because the blurb captured me. Here’s the description that sucked me in: “What’s a witch to do when she refuses to use magic to find love? What if she falls in lust with a man who doesn’t believe in the power of magic? Charlotte is a beautiful Wiccan who has her own shop of magical supplies and a matchmaking goddess. Patrick is a straight-laced, non-believer who, in his determination to keep his sister away from the influences of magic and witchcraft, finds himself falling for a witch. Neither can stop the erotic journey they’ve embarked on but they don’t know if they can accept each other’s very different lives.” I very much enjoyed this one. The author does a fantastic job on the sensual scenes. Erotic but tasteful. 
  5. Ghost of Winters Past, by Gail MacMillan – $4.99  ||  I’m actually still reading this, but at 60% done, I think I can pass judgment. I was especially pleased that this one turned up in the mix because Gail is a fellow New Brunswicker. She’s from the north of the province, and her book is set that rugged area. Michaela has come home from Toronto to give her aunt and uncle a break by managing their wilderness bed & breakfast lodge while they get away. And we’re talking true wilderness here, with snowmobiles being the mode of transport for citizens and RCMP alike. Travis MacDonald has chosen a nearby cabin to rusticate hermit-style, complete with sled dogs. Gail MacMillan gives us a murder mystery to solve along with a developing romance that will have to be as tough as their environment to survive. I’m thoroughly enjoying it! 
That was so much fun, I think I’ll choose six more randomly, if only to see if the approval rate is so high with the next batch.
Anyone else game to try it?

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Alice Gaines!

 

I am so happy to welcome Alice Gaines to my blog today. As it happens, I have two amazing Alices in my life, and they are both on the same discussion loop. To differentiate her from the other Alice (Alice Duncan), I’m accustomed to calling her “Dr. A”.

 

 

Alice has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley (hence the moniker). She is also a fantastic writer of sensual historical romance, romantic fantasy and contemporary romance. I fell in love with her writing when I picked up a Red Sage “Secrets” anthology volume some years ago that contained one of her stories, and have been a fan ever since. I am also a big personal fan of Alice, who is a truly passionate, interesting, non-cookie-cutter person.

 

With that introduction, I’ll turn you over to Alice.

 

ALICE GAINES:  Two bedroom/one bath. Yard.

 

That’s pretty much what the ad said when my husband and I were looking for a house to rent. The rental market in Oakland was highly competitive, so we campaigned hard to get the house even though we’d hardly looked at it.  Once the old tenants were gone and I could check the place out, I discovered a huge, old rose in the back yard and told Hal we’d done a Good Thing deciding to move into this relatively bad neighborhood in what’s known as a dangerous city.

 

 

A few years later, the landlords sold us the house. A few years after that, Hal died, and the yard became totally mine (at least when I finish paying off the bank). The yard became my writing place during good weather.

 

You have to realize that in California it doesn’t rain a drop from June pretty much through October. In fact, as I write this it’ll likely get to 86 today, and this weather is forecast to go through the whole week into next weekend.

 

I come from a family of gardeners and horticulturalists. My mother wrote books on gardening and for a while was the New England editor of Flower and Garden. When we moved in, I had a yard, and I could get my hands dirty. I planted a lemon tree. I put two avocado pits into the ground, and the trees are now taller than the house. I bought lots of Earthboxes so I could put vegetables in containers. During the summer, I now have an endless supply of the most delicious food on Earth — homegrown tomatoes.

 

 

I used to take long walks in the Oakland hills for exercise. I discovered wildflowers that you’d never notice driving by. I found two kinds of clarkias, and then one day, I came across a real treasure — a third species.  One little plant of clarkia unguiculata, or elegant clarkia, was a scrawny thing hiding out in the underbrush. I took one seedpod off it, leaving the others for the next generation in the wild. When I put those seeds into nice potting soil and gave it water, I got this. I grew another species along the side of the house, and they soared to waist high.

 

 

Every writing day, when I don’t have to go to my J-0-B, I take my AlphaSmart outside and listen to the sounds of birdcalls mingling with the occasional screech of tires. I am in a city, after all. The cat that moved into the yard when I had the bad sense to feed her sits under my chair and generally gets underfoot. She’s very pretty but has a howl that can carry to the next zip code (which actually is just across the street in San Leandro), and she has a nasty disposition. She bit me once, so I call her Cat-Hole.

 

 

Cat-Hole and I sit outside for hours while I pound away on the AlphaSmart.  If I finish my pages on time, I get to spend the late afternoon drinking a microbrew while I work on the hymn I’m writing for my church.

 

Whoa? Church? A lady who writes super-hot, even erotic, romance sits drinking a beer while writing a hymn? I’m Episcopalian. We’re a non-judgmental bunch. My rector’s wife reads my books. I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t share them with him.

 

Thank you, Alice! That was so much fun! You are so lucky to be able to write outside so much of the year! And have I stumbled onto the secret of your amazing productivity – using the Alphasmart to keep your forward momentum. Smart!

 

To learn more about Alice, you can check out her website or her page on Fresh Fiction, or you can follow her on Twitter.

 

On to our giveaway, and it’s a nice one! Alice is giving away a print set of her Cabin Fever series from Avon Impulse (erotic novellas). The set includes Heat Rises, Storm Bound and Mating Season.

 

 

Okay, readers, you know the drill – comment for a chance to win the prize. Do you have a back yard oasis to escape to? If you’re a writer, do you write there? And if you’re not a writer, do you still take your laptop or Kindle or iPad out there to work or read in the midst of it?