Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Joys of Summer by Diane Burton

As July comes to an end, summer is at its zenith. Heat and humidity, daylight until 10 pm, violent thunderstorms, ducklings swimming in the pond. The County Fair with corn dogs and funnel cakes, 4-H’ers showing off their skills, midway carnival rides, carneys enticing kids (and parents) to part with their money, baby animals looking for handouts.

While I’m not fond of heat, I do love the tastes of summer, beginning with strawberry season. Backbreaking work for adults. A fun time for kids.

Now blueberries are their peak. Big and luscious. Easier to pick than strawberries.
 Soon, we’ll have cucumbers, green beans, and corn. Already Hubs’ tomatoes are ready to eat. Growing up in a family of nine, a garden definitely reduced the grocery bill. Although I would have been satisfied with just eating the veggies, Mom always made hamburgers or chicken so we’d have some protein. A roadside stand helped my sister and I earn money, even though zucchini were so plentiful, we couldn’t give them away.

The best part of summer these days is the annual visit from our Arizona family. What is becoming a tradition started in 2014 with Son getting married on a Lake Michigan beach. Daughter-in-law suggested spending their anniversary in Michigan. Needless to say, I was thrilled. 

Work gets set aside, email goes unread, My WIP can wait when family is here.  



During this visit, Baby Girl walked on her own for the first time. Tentatively at first then gaining confidence. Since we all clapped and grinned, she showed off more, especially in her R2D2 costume.







Toys from our neighborhood garage sales and those our kids played with appealed to her curiosity. New (for her) books, too. She kept bringing Baby Bugs by Tom Arma to us to read to her. Then she sat on the floor and “read” to us. Sure wish I knew what she was saying.

Watching my grandchildren play together fills me with so much joy. Nothing beats having my whole family together. And a great neighbor with a camera capturing the moment.



 Diane Burton writes romantic suspense, mysteries, and science fiction romance. She blogs here on the 30th of the month, on Paranormal Romantics on the 13th, and on her own blog on Mondays. Her newest sci-fi romance novella, Mission to New Earth, will be released next month.


Friday, July 29, 2016

My Favorite Romances are Full of Curves by Mackenzie Crowne


As a reader, I love that moment when I first open a book, having no idea where I’m headed, but anxious to enjoy the ride. Let’s face it, in fiction, the unknown is an irresistible force. If you’re like me, you are full of anticipation as you turn that first page, settling in to discover the unexpected curves in whatever road the author has placed her characters on.



In real life, I can think of a few scenarios where unexpected curves could turn out to be a nightmare. Like all of you, I’ve rounded a few and thankfully, most have sent me on inconsequential detours; side trips on my daily drive that brought small changes to my existence, but eventually dumped me right back onto my familiar, comfortable course.


Like the day I answered the door to find a neighbor holding the cutest little ball of fur and a wagging tail. Explaining the toy Pomeranian was a stray and had wandered into his yard, the neighbor asked if I would keep the itsy bitsy cutie until his “people” were found—because the little guy was terrorizing his poodle. I snorted in disbelief. I’d seen bigger squirrels for crying out loud.

His "people" never did show up (personally, I think they hit the road for Canada the moment the door shut behind him) and I wasn't in the market for a dog, but I’m a sucker for bulging eyes and fluffy tails, and my neighbor knew it. So, I found myself on an unexpected detour with an annoying little yapper who never missed a chance to hump my blind cat, but it didn’t take long for the little demon to become part of the family.   

Then there are the curves that are less detour and more re-route. These curves leave you gripping the steering wheel and wondering if you’ve blown a tire. The most notable re-route for me happened on the day I learned I had become a grandmother—seven months earlier. Yeah, that’s not a typo. I found out about my granddaughter when she was seven months old. What can I say? My son rocks at keeping secrets. Either that or I’d taken a wrong turn and gotten lost in Peyton Place. Seriously, I thought this kind of thing only happened in soap operas… Or romance novels. Boy, was I wrong. But ultimately, the road straightened out and soon I was whipping along on a re-routed path. These days, my fabulous G’girl rides shotgun as we head down the road on our girl trip adventures.



Unfortunately, there are those rare curves that are not only hair raising, but potentially deadly. A stage III breast cancer diagnosis is like having all four tires blow out, in a blizzard, on a sheet of ice, on a hairpin curve, on the top of a mountain beside a five thousand foot drop off. That type of curve doesn’t lead to a detour or even a re-route. It’s a game changer. The game changer curve shoots you into the unknown on two wheels while you cling to the steering wheel with white knuckles. I highly recommend avoiding this type of curve at all cost. Then again, as with many traumatic experiences, travelling the game changer curve strips a soul down to the bare basics, allowing them to see what’s truly important in life without all the distractions that hold us back from achieving true happiness. 



They say life is stranger than fiction and as someone who has spent time in Peyton Place, I wholly agree, but I also understand it’s the curves that give life zest. The same goes for fiction. All good romances contain curves. Some are detours, some are re-routes, but the best stories include a game changer curve as the catalyst to a character’s growth.

I love a good game changer romance, don’t you? My most recent favorite is WRECKED by Sarah Grimm. Seriously intense. I highly recommend it. So, what’s yours? Come on, please share.


When Mac isn’t busy maneuvering her own curves, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like those in her Players series from KensingtonBooks.







Thursday, July 28, 2016

Worry Pudding…Mama’s Secret Sauce by Nicci Carrera


Not only do we have a guest today, but she's got a Rafflecopter Drawing going on. Meet Nicci Carrera. Enjoy!
The three Cruz sisters featured in Love Caters All and Third Strike’s the Charm share a very smart and compassionate mother (who goes by “Mama.”) Whereas the first book, Love Caters All is a light confection of a story, Third Strike’s the Charm has a serious theme because Cara’s best friend has multiple sclerosis. She also happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s mom.
In this book I drew on what it felt like to help take care of my mom during the years of her disability. She didn’t have MS, she had memory loss and confusion otherwise known “dementia,” a label I dislike because I feel that it is dismissive of the person’s dignity and still significant capability.
In fact, that’s what I drew on, my passionate feelings people with disabilities are just as precious and special. Indeed those years with my mom were precious and special to me. I realized the gift at the time, and I am still warmed by those memories. There’s simply nothing like having the opportunity to care for a loved one who has special needs for experiencing unconditional love.
Cara’s and Jason’s love of Francie comes straight out of my love for my mom (who passed away in 2013).
So…what’s the worry pudding about?
After a health crisis, Cara comes home to find Mama whipping egg whites by hand. That’s a lot of work! But that’s the point. Her mama did it, Mama does it, and maybe Cara will one day too. All that elbow grease raises the endorphins and burns off the adrenaline of worry.
I hope you read the book! I’m  giving away one print copy today and a couple of gift cards, plus Third Strike’s the Charm is discounted from $5.99 to $.99 for two weeks, so I hope you give it a try and then let me know what you think on your favorite review site or shoot me an email.
Third Strike’s the Charm is the second in my Cruz sisters series and is also part of the Wild Rose Press’s Lobster Cove series. (Find out more on my website niccicarrera.com/.)
Please drop by my Facebook page to be entered in the contest. The contest runs July 28 to July 30. Good luck!
Contest Rafflecopter link:

Blurb:
Super student Cara Cruz made it all the way through her prestigious MBA program only to choke on the last final. Ordered by her advisor to take the summer off and clear her head, she’s home in Lobster Cove for some fun before retaking the exam. If she fails a second time, she will lose her dream job offer in Chicago. Meanwhile her best friend happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s mom, which means close contact with the man who broke her heart. Twice. This time she’ll protect her heart no matter the cost.
Ex-major-league baseball pitcher Jason Ward blew his money, his elbow, and his love life. Now at home taking care of his mom and working on a new life plan, he wants Cara back, but he already struck out, didn’t he? Maybe not, and now his mission is to win her back without telling her the truth about why he really came home.

Winning at love will be the only play that counts.

Excerpt from Third Strike’s the Charm:
“I found out I couldn’t go back to the majors the day of Maya’s wedding.”
She remembered his anger, the way he stormed off, how hurt she’d been at the time. “Oh no! I’m so sorry.” That news made Maya’s wedding day one of the worst of his life. “I had no idea.”
“I know. That’s why I wanted to tell you. I was in a really bad state of mind that day. I acted like such a jerk."
Her heart constricted. “The whole kiss thing was an accident, and I made it worse by not sorting it out right away. Now to find out you had that awful news hanging over your head makes me feel even worse.”

He frowned. “I overreacted.”
“Well, it’s understandable now.”
He cleared his throat, meeting her gaze. “Now that we have that cleared up, are you seeing someone?”
Did he want to try again? Her heart gave an inappropriate little bump. Remember your MBA, your new job. And remember how many times Jason disappointed you. “No. I’m not seeing anyone. I need to get my career settled before I think about anything like that.”
He frowned, and then nodded.
Buy links:

Wild Rose Press:

Amazon Kindle (eBook):

Kobo:

iBooks:

Barnes and Noble:

Google Play:

All Romance eBooks:

Find Nicci on the Web here:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Fun of Being in an Anthology by Betsy Ashton

I've been very lucky over the past few years. I've had a poem about my mother dying of cancer in two anthologies, Voices from Smith Mountain Lake and Candles of Hope. Proceeds from each publication went to charity: Voices supports the scholarship fund for Smith Mountain Arts Council, and Candles supports a UK cancer charity. Voices also published a short story and an essay which had run their life-span for contests. Last year, Reflections on Smith Mountain Lake picked up a different short story and essay. This collection honored the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake. Again, proceeds went to the same scholarship fund listed above.

And this year, I was invited to submit a story for 50 Shades of Cabernet collected by many of the same writers who were involved with Virginia Is For Mysteries. My story, a true tongue-in-cheek accounting of a winter solstice at a New Age church was too much fun to write.

First, I was honored to be invited. These same writers, many of whom are members of Sisters-in-Crime Internet Chapter, are terrific mystery writers. I felt like a charlatan being in their company, but I put on my big girl panties, put fingers on keyboard and let the story flow.  Many drafts later, I was satisfied with "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape" and submitted it. Yes, it's a send-up of In the Garden of Good and Evil. It's also a send-up of many New Age churches, including one out in San Francisco, the Church of the Holy Grape, which is authentic and exists so that the "leader" can buy wine without paying sales tax. But that's a story for a different blog post. Maybe.

Other stories include "Whose Wine Is It Anyway?" by Barb Goffman, "Love the Wine You're With" by Teresa Inge, "Wine, Women and Wrong" by Maggie King, "Life is a Cabernet" by Jayne Ormerod, and "Cobblestones and Cabernet" by Jenny Sparks. Yes, Cabernet had to be mentioned in the story to be included. Overall, there are seventeen stories in the collection.

Here's the plot.

Ryan is a member of this New Age church, the Church of the Holy Grape, which meets four times a year on the solstices and equinoxes to celebrate food and wine. He extracts a promise from,his reluctant wife to join him at the winter solstice meeting. First she reneges, then finally agrees to go one time only. He's ecstatic, because he is supposed to rise in the church to be a guide and wants Lucy to support him.

Things go horribly off track when the leader of the group, the Wrong Reverend Ruby Cabernet, intones a forbidden prayer and summons spirits of the past. These include The Mighty Zin and Madame Sauterne, among others. Mayhem ensues. Let's just say the evening goes so far off script that even Ryan can't see where it will end.

This collection will be out in March 2017. Look for many of us, in small groups or solos, to offer book signings at local wineries. Even if no one shows up to buy a book, we can always indulge in tastings. I wonder how far off script we can go next summer.

###

Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and NobleI'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Casualties of the heat

We made a big mistake and put a birdhouse not far from our front door. All this summer we had Mr. Aggressive Wren building a nest in there, terrorizing anyone who came near and scolding us whenever we tried to weed in the garden or come anywhere near his nest. He advertised the nest quite noisily for weeks and I think he finally found a lady to share it.

But alas, in the last few days, he has not been protecting his spot. I think the heat has taken its toll and the house, which does get some direct sunlight, is too hot for him. We had plans to move it later this year to a spot in the trees farther away from the garden which will hopefully be a bit more conducive to their needs. And a spot that will be quieter for those of us who sit near the window where he chides anyone who comes near the window, which is 10 feet away from his home (that appears to be his Safe Zone).

Of course, we'll have to make sure we don't put it where the deer like to relax in the heat of the day. We have a regular group who come and lie in the undergrowth under the trees (we have a very heavily wooded lot). There's a couple of moms and their kids who hang out during the hottest part of the day.  They poke their heads up now and then so I can see them among the brush. Can you imagine how hot it must be for them? Fur coats and all.

It's at times like this that I really appreciate my ancestors. They were pioneers, settling here in the Midwest in the early 1800s. Imagine that -- traveling miles away from all you know and going into a strange land. Heat, cold, back-breaking labor, illness, and misery. Talk about courage and perseverance!

I wonder if future generations will have as much admiration for us? Or will they wonder at the choices we're making? Will there be casualties because of choices being made now?

I tend to think this way because I'm working on a series set in the future, an alternate future that has been shaped by decisions made today. It's really made me aware of the ripple effect we all have on the world.

Like putting a birdhouse in the wrong spot in the garden...



Monday, July 25, 2016

To Steam or Not to Steam: The Ultimate Question by Anna Durand


It guest blog day so join my in welcoming Anna Durand to The Roses of Prose...
Long before I ever wrote a romance, I began reading them voraciously. Though I read all heat levels, I often gravitate toward the hotter end of the spectrum, with stories that range from steamy (think Lynsay Sands) to erotic (think Kresley Cole). When I wrote my first romance novel, Willpower, I kept the love scene sensual but more euphemistic than graphic. I soon realized, though, that I longed to write hotter—I just wasn't sure I'd be any good at it, and I felt a bit self-conscious about the prospect.
Now, some writers worry their friends and family will disapprove if they write hot love scenes, but my family was totally onboard with the idea. I needed to silence that little voice in my head that kept saying, "You can't do that, you've never written anything that sexy." But when I looked back at the love scene in Willpower, I realized I'd crafted a very sensual scene that I could easily have steamed up. In fact, I'd wanted to but held back.
So I took a few workshops on writing hot, to gain some confidence, but ultimately I just had to do it. (Pun intended, with a wink.) The first truly hot love scene I wrote appeared in the novella Reborn to Burn—and yes, the title does in part refer to the sensuality. Intuition, the sequel to Willpower, was my next published book to include steamy love scenes, as well as more sensuality sprinkled throughout the book. But in the summer of 2015, I took the final step in my steamy-writing journey. I wrote my first erotic romance, the short story Tempted by a Kiss.
The journey has culminated with my favorite of my books thus far, the erotic romance novel Dangerous in a Kilt. It includes several lengthy love scenes, very explicit but with a playfulness I enjoy writing. From here on, some of my books will be hot, some will be erotic, but always the romantic relationship takes center stage. The journey to writing steamy took a while, but I have no regrets. And yes, I'll admit it—I love writing hot!

Bio

Anna Durand is an award-winning writer specializing in steamy romances populated with spunky heroines and hunky heroes, in settings as diverse as modern Chicago and the fairy realm. Her romances have to date won eight awards and her novel Intuition was a 2016 RONE Award nominee, while her short story Tempted by a Kiss was a finalist in The Romance Reviews 2016 Readers' Choice Awards. Dangerous in a Kilt won first place in the 2016 Great Beginnings contest, contemporary romance category.



Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/author/annadurand 

Dangerous in a Kilt


A feisty American. A hot Scot. Passion ignites.

Good-girl Erica Teague is out on bail, charged with a crime her ex-lover committed. Her desperate bid to experience one wild night of sizzling sex, before her trial and certain conviction, lands her in the arms of Lachlan MacTaggart, a hot Scot with a secret past. She can't resist his offer to enjoy one month of sex and companionship with no strings. But when their hot fling gets personal, can their passion free their imprisoned hearts?

Read the first three chapters and vote for it on Kindle Scout:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

SHOWERING WITH MY CLOTHES ON by Brenda Whiteside

Love the mountains, hate the heat
Following up on How Not to Move from my last post, I have to lament the timing of the move for this post. We've done this before...moving in the Arizona summer. We all know the lifting and bending, walking back and forth, heaving and hoeing of moving. It's tiring on even a youngster. It's not that part I'm talking about. That ends. You finally sit down with a cool one and recuperate.

I'm talking about moving into an RV in the dead of summer, during monsoon season, in a basin which is surrounded by mountains. It's sort of desert. Not ugly desert, but still desert. That means hot. RV's like ours are not meant for extreme temperature comfort.

We ordered a portable evap cooler. Sent it back the second day. It was nothing more than an expensive fan. We have another on order for twice as much money, but supposedly more efficient. We'll see. Today, it got to 92 degrees in the RV with the AC and two fans running all day. Sure hope the new cooler works. At least, because we're not city, the desert does cool down by about 30 degrees once the sun goes behind the mountain.

Happy when the sun goes down
Meanwhile, I've found the secret to staying cool...when I'm not hanging out in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. My secret: I dressed in stretchy short yoga pants, a sleeveless cotton Tee shirt and jumped in the shower, fully clothed, under the cold water. Now I'm sitting on a towel on the couch with my ankles wrapped in ice packs and two fans blowing on me. I'm perfectly comfortable.

Maybe I should market my invention with instructions to just add cold water!

Be sure to check out my Romantic Suspense Love and Murder Series with a visit to my Amazon Author Page: amzn.to/1THrngg

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about life’s latest adventure on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

Please note, I'll be on a road trip with Mom when this post goes live. I'll try to check in using my phone or iPad...but I'm not the most techy person.