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Shopping and Separation Anxiety with Jenyfer Matthews

My special guest today is author Jenyfer Matthews. She’s talking about a very special challenge she’s facing this week as well as her new release, Separation Anxiety.

You know how it is, you go on vacation and you buy things. Maybe you’re even going to a place where you expect to shop so you travel light going.

Now imagine that you live in a country that not only doesn’t have good malls or decent mail service, but where you can’t even find quality socks when you need them. That’s me, in Egypt.

I’m an American who has lived abroad for eleven years (where does time go??). It wasn’t so bad when I lived in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai hosts an annual Shopping Festival, after all. But even there, in the land of shopping malls, there were still things you couldn’t find easily, like good socks or books (gasp).

Every summer I come back to America with light suitcases and a long shopping list. I’ve got it nearly down to a science now. Each child has their own ticket and we’re allowed two checked suitcases apiece, each weighing 50lbs. I’ve gotten very good at packing things – for instance, I pack all the heaviest items in the smallest suitcase, on the theory that it won’t go overweight because it will be full before I get too much in there anyway. In all my years of bringing back a year’s supply of miscellaneous stuff for a family of four, I’ve only once had to pay an overweight charge. Not bad on average, all in all.

This year, however, I’m worried.

I not only have several large but light, bulky items, but I also have a couple of very heavy things including a Separation Anxietymuch-larger-than-I-expected jewelry chest and a lidded cast iron soup pot that once belonged to my grandmother. Unique challenges to my packing skills to say the least. I travel back to Egypt on Sunday so I’ll have to get back to you on how it all goes.

I’ve traveled a lot in the last decade so I suppose it’s no surprise that I would write a book where the heroine starts traveling after a major life crisis. I have to admit that I when I wrote SEPARATION ANXIETY I was indulging in a major fantasy exercise because not only wasn’t my character dragging two small children in her wake, she shopped as she liked and simply shipped her excess and unneeded items home ahead of her. Bliss.

I’m happy to say that SEPARATION ANXIETY is available in multiple digital formats from Smashwords.com as well as other major ebookstores, including Sony and Apple. SEPARATION ANXIETY is also available in paperback from Amazon.com.

BLURB

Sometimes running away is the first step toward finding yourself.

Aurora has spent her entire married life transforming herself from a regular, middle class girl into the perfect society wife. Life seems perfect until she is unceremoniously dumped by her philandering cliche’ of a husband just before Christmas – and their tenth wedding anniversary. Devastated and unable to face the social ostracism or the holiday parties, Aurora and her best friend Kat plan a trip to Amsterdam for a weekend…then decide to keep going. Aurora attempts to drown her sorrows with wine in Amsterdam and Frankfurt, finds her anger in Athens and Cairo, and reclaims her sexuality in Dubai. By the time she and Kat reach Bangkok at the New Year, Aurora is ready and eager to move on with her life.

Planned as a way to escape her pain, Aurora’s travels instead become a journey to a new sense of self and a whole new world – post-divorce.

EXCERPT

I am standing in the kitchen debating on whether or not baking some gingerbread would be overkill when I hear a car door outside.

My stomach flips and I run to the window to peek outside. It’s Bryce.

I press my hand to my stomach and try to slow my breathing. Hyperventilation and hysteria is hardly the alluring look I’m going for.

I go back to the kitchen, check my lipstick in my reflection on the window, and finger comb my hair. I whirl around and try to appear casual when I hear Bryce’s key in the door.

“Aurora?” Bryce says as he lets himself in.

“Good morning, Bryce,” I say, walking toward him and giving him a big smile. “Good to see you.”

He looks at me with some suspicion as he stands uncertainly in the foyer.

He’s not as impeccably presented as usual. His shirt is wrinkled and he doesn’t look as if he’s slept much. He certainly doesn’t look like a man who is happy with the decision he’s just made. I can feel my hopes rising just looking at him. This might be easier than I expected.

“Don’t just stand there,” I say, “This is your home, come in. I made some coffee. Sit down and have a cup. Can I get you some breakfast?”

“Thanks, but no,” he says, putting his hands in his pockets. “I really don’t have much time. I have an early appointment this morning. I’ll just go up and get my things.”

My smile fades. He’s deviating from my mental script of how this will go. He’s supposed to sit down, have breakfast and snap out of whatever spell Audrey has him under. “What? Just like that? Can’t we even talk about this? About us?”

I hear him sigh. “We already talked last night. What more is there to say?”

“We didn’t talk last night!” I take a deep breath and try to regain my composure. Bryce doesn’t like scenes so screeching at him will hardly win him over or gain his ear. I start again. “We didn’t talk. You made an announcement. I’d like a chance to discuss things with you. Privately.”

“I don’t really have much more to add, Aurora. I’m in love with Audrey and it doesn’t seem…kind to draw this out any more than we have to. I think it’s best to make a clean break.”

“So that’s it? After ten years together? How is it ‘kind’ to just walk out on me with no warning? Aren’t we at least supposed to try counseling?” I ask him as I follow him up the stairs to our bedroom.

Bryce is pulling suitcases from the back of our walk-in closet. “I don’t want to go to counseling.” He pauses to look at me. “I’m sorry.”

I stand there, stunned. He’s not repentant or regretful. He hasn’t realized his mistake. He’s merely uncomfortable with the situation. With me.

How has this happened? Yesterday things were normal. I was buying him an anniversary present. How can he be leaving me today?

He turns and begins to put things in the open suitcases. Shirts, pants, suit jackets, ties. I cross my arms and watch him silently. He picks up a small satchel and turns to cross to the bathroom. He squeezes my arm as he passes me. He is still my husband but already his touch seems foreign.

I can hear him opening drawers and dropping items into the bag. When he comes back out I want to catch his eye — to make him look at me! — but he’s looking down.

“You can’t leave without at least talking to me,” I try again. “You owe me that much at least.”

“I can’t see how talking about this will be helpful to you,” Bryce says, opening a dresser drawer and tossing socks and underwear into his suitcases. “I don’t have much time and endless discussion will only serve to hurt you more.”

“Oh my god — is she outside?” I ask. “Is she waiting for you in the car?” I run to the window to look out, trying to see into his car.

“No. I wouldn’t do that,” Bryce says. “I wouldn’t bring her here. This is hard enough as it is. On all of us.”

I can’t help but wonder whose feelings he is trying to spare because it certainly doesn’t seem to be mine.

It’s getting hard to maintain my composure when things are spinning so far out of my control. But this doesn’t make any sense to me. The situation does not compute. I have to have better answers than he’s giving me.

“What…” My voice breaks. I clear my throat and try again. “What did I do wrong? What do I need to do to fix this?”

Bryce sighs again. He stops packing for a moment and puts his hands on his hips. Finally he looks up at me.

“You haven’t done anything wrong,” he says. “Things just…happened. I’ve changed. I want different things. Neither of us is getting any younger and life is too short not to take happiness where you can find it. None of this was your fault. It’s not you, Aurora, it’s me.”

When I don’t answer him, he turns and starts packing again.

I can’t believe it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it, but I’m pretty sure my husband of a decade just dumped me with a string of clichés and the old it’s-not-you-it’s-me line.

CONTEST – Jenyfer is giving away a PDF download of Separation Anxiety to one lucky reader. All you need to do to enter the draw is comment on this post or ask Jenyfer a question.

Can Murder Be Cozy?

I have a special guest today–author Amanda Lee who writes cozy mysteries. Amanda is the lady next to you in the grocery line or car pool. She has twins: one boy and one girl, she’s a baseball fan, she likes to decorate cakes, she rocks at Guitar Hero…oh, and she likes to think about murder. But it’s OK! She only writes about murder—a lot.

So what exactly is a cozy mystery? That’s what I asked Amanda…

Amanda Lee Cozy mysteries take place in a small town or confined setting where all the characters know each other. Think Desperate Housewives meets CSI.

Characters are integral to cozy mysteries. Cozy writers use hobbies, professions and even obsessions to make their characters unique. I have an interest in cake decorating, so I infuse my hobby into a profession for my character. Even though I’m a novice cake decorator, I have the knowledge to make my character an expert.

Judith Skillings and her husband own and operate a Rolls-Royce and Bentley restoration shop. Not surprisingly, her cozy mystery heroine works in a classic automobile restoration shop. Ellen Crosby introduces readers to Virginia’s wine country in her mysteries. Camille Minichino has a Ph.D. in Physics. She writes the periodic table mysteries. Sheila Lowe, a graphology expert, pens cozy mysteries wherein the heroine is an expert handwriting analyst.

Some cozy writers add a paranormal bent to their books. Alice Kimberly, author of the Haunted Bookstore Mystery series, employs the ghost of a murdered P.I. to help the heroine solve crimes. Madelyn Alt writes the Bewitching Mysteries, and Victoria Laurie writes the Ghost Hunter Mysteries.

Since many cozy mysteries are series books, the reader has time to develop “relationships” with the books’ main characters. The reader watches the characters grow and interact from book to book. While these might be the most unlucky people on the planet—murder victims are turning up around practically every corner—they’re still falling in love, making new friends, caring for pets and pretty much happily going about their lives. Diane Mott Davidson’s character Goldy has gone through quite a lot of changes since her first book, Catering to Nobody. There we met a divorcee with a young son. Now Goldy has remarried and little Arch is all grown up. In that way, cozy mysteries are rather like a soap opera; only you have to wait a long time between installments. Which reminds me of Lost . . . although my series doesn’t have a dark cloud monster or a plane crash. At least, not yet. :-)

One reviewer said of Murder Takes the Cake, “I could identify with Daphne’s relationship with her family. I think this was the part I liked best. Daphne has a cautious and teeth gritting relationship with her mother, a loving warm one with her father and her sister.” I was surprised that this is what she “liked best” about the book. I’d intended to give the characters depth through their relationships, and I’d tried to make those relationships realistic. In fact, the publisher even asked me to tie up the heroine’s relationship with the stray cat at the end of the book. I couldn’t do that and remain realistic. The cat in book is based on a real cat, and it took me months to establish a relationship with her. The fictional relationship will progress in the next book, as will all of Daphne’s other relationships.

It is really cool how readers of cozy mysteries become attached to characters and loyal to authors. In fact, every year cozy readers gather in Arlington, Virginia for the Malice Domestic “Fun Fan” convention to celebrate cozy mysteries and their authors. It’s quite a coup for an author to win an “Agatha,” the teapot awards given by Malice Domestic. And the convention is a terrific experience. As a fan as well as an author, I was thrilled to meet Dorothy Cannell and Harley Jane Kozak at the Malice Domestic convention a few years back. Both are delightful ladies with great senses of humor. Naturally, I told them I love Ellie Haskell and Wollie Shelley, respectively. And I do. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next.

The Quick and the Thread

The Quick and the Thread by Amanda Lee

Marcy Singer has big plans: a move to the breathtaking Oregon coast, opening an embroidery shop called The Seven Year Itch, a fun grand opening. What she doesn’t plan on is the shop’s old owner showing up—DEAD—in her shop. Some people think Marcy killed him. Some people think she’s the next victim. All Marcy knows is someone has to uncover the murderer before she’s forced to flip the sign on her shop door to CLOSED permanently. And it looks like that someone might be Marcy.

Purchase The Quick and the Thread: An Embroidery Mystery today!

Just Thought You Should Know:
Amanda Lee is also Gayle Trent, author of the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Series that includes Dead Pan and Murder Takes the Cake. To learn more about Amanda you can visit her website or blog.

CONTEST: Win a copy of The Quick and the Thread – comment on this post, ask Amanda about cozy mysteries or a question about her book and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Amanda’s book. Note – contest is only available to those who live in USA or Canada.


Women on Writing

Click to find details of other stops in Amanda’s blog tour.

Oooh, Baby! with Kris Starr

Thursday Thirteen

Greetings, all! Kris Starr here. I write erotic romance and erotica, and I am so very happy to be hanging out today at Shelley’s blog – thanks, Shelley, for the opportunity!

Lovely by Kris StarrI am also thrilled to be a Carina Press author along with Shelley and a bunch of other absolutely fabulous folks. There are some great books available from CP, so if you haven’t checked ‘em out yet, do so! My novella is called Lovely, and it’s an erotic historical set in Paris in 1900.

But I’ll get to that shortly.

Lovely launched on June 21st, and as some of you may know, I got the best launch-day gift ever. On June 22nd, I gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl. So needless to say I am slightly brain-dead as a result, and I hope you can forgive me if this blog post meanders into the realm of “WTF is she talking about??”

Shelley suggested a baby-related TT, and I figured, that’s a great idea, and hey, how hard can it be to come up with thirteen baby items?

Um, remember that brain-dead comment from earlier?

Yeah.

But I did plug along, so without further ado, here’s your Thursday Thirteen!

1. Your brain somehow atrophies with the birth of your child. Or disintegrates. Or completely vanishes. Or, or…something. Whatever it is, I forget.

2. Time becomes like something out of an episode of Star Trek – before baby arrives you’ve got more of the damned stuff than you know what to do with. You read books! Spend time on your hobbies! Linger over lunches with friends! After baby arrives you can barely squeeze in five minutes for yourself to have a shower, toss in a (neverending) load of laundry or unload the dishwasher – and which activity you choose can be determined by whether you have any underwear left, just how gross your hair has become, or if there are any plates in the cupboard.

3. You no longer have anxiety dreams about appearing naked in your high school chemistry class, late for your final exam – you now dream about forgetting/losing/dropping the baby.

4. Five straight hours of unbroken sleep is the most decadent, delightful thing on the face of the planet.

5. You can no longer go anywhere without fifteen minutes of prep time before you go out the door, and you now must lug seventy-three extra things with you. Every single time. Because if you don’t have extra diapers, wipes, burp cloths and clothing with you, you’re screwed.

6. It’s only when you’ve got the baby bundled up in a wrap/carrier that she spits up all over herself…and you.

7. Along the same vein as #6 — all known infant bodily fluids (drool, poop, pee and spitup) now become a part of your regular, everyday life and you are guaranteed to get at least one of them (more likely two or three) on you on a daily basis.

8. And along the same vein as #6 and #7 — you thank whatever higher power/spiritual being you believe in that you have access to a washer and dryer and are not required to scrub baby clothing and other items on rocks in the riverbed.

9. Just as you sit down to dinner, the baby begins to fuss. You forget just what hot food and/or eating with the rest of your family feels like.

10. Forget makeup, hairstyling and dressy clothes. Now it’s sweats and tees, ponytails or headbands and that “natural” look. For all occasions.

11. A receiving blanket or burp cloth becomes a fashion statement that goes with anything. Trust me. Bunnies, daisies and hearts are hot this season.

12. Sex? What’s that?

But most importantly…

13. There is nothing more beautiful or precious on this planet than the sweet, tiny angel asleep in your arms, and you realize every time you look at her just how lucky and blessed you really are.

And that none of the other stuff matters in the least.

Now, to Lovely…

As mentioned earlier, Lovely is set in Paris in 1900, and it’s the story of a prostitute named Angelique. Here’s the blurb:

They call me Lovely. But I know I am not.

Once I had another name. Now, as Angelique, I do what I can to please les messieurs. What would they say if they knew I felt no pleasure? To them I am wanton, insatiable. I alone know the truth.

So I am mystified by my reaction to my latest caller. Alexandre. Handsome. Well-bred. With an air of innocence that intrigues me. And true pain in his eyes. A mere kiss on the hand inflames me as never before. In moments this man disconcerts me like no other, and soon I can think of nothing, no one else. And yet, he barely touches me.

I know my true purpose is to mend his wounds, but I wonder what lustful appetites are buried deep within him. I will do what I can to discover his secrets…

Lovely is available now from Carina Press.

Well, the baby is starting to fuss in her cradle, so that means it’s time for me to wrap up. Thanks again to Shelley for having me, and I hope you’ll swing by my blog or shoot me an email and say hello or let me know what you thought of Lovely! You can also follow me on Twitter (I don’t Tweet much yet – I’m still trying to get the hang of it in general. That brain thing, y’know?).

Cheers!
Kris

Kris’ Bio:
Kris lives in the wilds of Northern Canada with her two daughters and science geek husband. She spends her time attempting to control household chaos, indulging her crafty side with various knitting, sewing and miscellaneous handmade projects, and creating stories for Carina Press and Ellora’s Cave. Kris has been writing since the age of ten, beginning with a Nancy Drew-style mystery story featuring herself and a couple of her friends. Future leanings became clear, however, when she started penning naughty stories for high-school friends, featuring Scott Baio, Rick Springfield or any member of Duran Duran.

Kris’ blog
Twitter ID
Kris’ email

CONTEST: Everyone who comments on Kris’s post will go into a draw to win a download of Lovely. Tell us about your baby memories, comment on Kris’s baby thirteen or about her new release, Lovely

Consent to the Cowboy with Abby Wood

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Abby Wood. Abby is here to tell us about her recent release, Consent to the Cowboy. This is another book I’m looking forward to reading and one that is locked and loaded on my Palm reader. I’m thrilled to have Abby visit today, especially since she’s talking about some of my favorite things–rodeo and country fairs.

Thank you for having me here today, Shelley. It’s a pretty exciting time around my house lately. Not only has Consent to the Cowboy been released at Carina Press, but it’s also county fair time in my part of the country. To celebrate, I’d love to give away a copy of my book to one lucky person who leaves a comment today.

For me, county fair means rodeo time! These are small time rodeos where town favorites compete for the championship. Year after year, we attend and cheer on our favorite rider. From barrel racing, calf ropin’, bull ridin’, and team ropin’, every highlight of the rodeo draws a big crowd. Heck, if two hundred people show up, that means almost the whole town attended. We start’em young too. Our four year olds are sat atop the back of a calf and let loose within the ring. We grease up pigs and encourage our children to go catch their dinner.

Consent to the CowboySpirits run high, beer flows fast, and words take on more meaning. It is the one chance to meet with your neighbor who lives five miles away and get caught up on how their crops are growing, how many heads of cattle they are planning to run through the winter, and to catch up on the local gossip.

Behind the fencing, personal bets are taking place. Although, that’s not what we call it…it’s bartering. I’ll give you one goose for three laying hens if O’Reilly wins the next round! We always come home with new animals. Gotta watch out for some of them seasoned farmers though, they’ll hoist a mean rooster off on the innocent adults who have just begun their journey into country livin’.

The rodeo also means a stressful time for the women. We find out who is the best cook, the best pie baker, and who canned the most over the summer. We brag about how many nights we stayed up listening to the lids popping on the dill pickles sitting out on the counter, and we’ve sworn our man not to utter a word about the steak we burnt last week. Bad news like that stick in other women’s memories for a long time and you’ll forever be asked to bring a jello salad to the next potluck. You have to earn the right to bring a main dish, ya know.

I’ve attended quite a few fairs. Some are more centered around carnival rides, entertainment, and businesses trying to sell their products. I really enjoy them, but it’s the small local fairs that feel like a family reunion and gathering spot for the neighbors that I love the most.

Do you go to any fairs in the summertime? What kind of fair do you have in your area?

In Consent to the Cowboy, the first chapter takes place at a small town rodeo. You can read the first chapter of the book here.

Here’s the blurb for Consent to the Cowboy

Surrounded by beer-swilling, skirt-chasing cowboys her whole life, barmaid Daphne Norris has no intention of ever settling for any of the men in her Podunk hometown. So when bronc rider Will Hanson sends shock waves to her core with just one glance from his striking green eyes, no one is more surprised than her.

But Will is no ordinary cowboy, and he can see that Daphne is no ordinary small-town girl. He can sense in Daphne the quiet strength and devotion needed to satisfy a man like him, a man who needs to be on top, in every aspect of his life.

Daphne hasn’t ever succumbed to her submissive desires before, and Will awakens her in ways she never imagined. While she’s not prepared to give him her heart, she agrees to Will’s offer of three days of intense pleasure, and then she’s walking. But Daphne falls hard and fast, and now she has a decision: return to a normal life, or give up everything for Will…

Purchase Link

Multipublished author Abby Wood lives in the Pacific Northwest. A huge animal lover, she enjoys the many animals on her farm and the wild ones that roam the forest. In her free time, she loves to ride motorcycles, garden, go fishing and play tennis. She loves to write stories that allow readers to escape into a brand-new world.

You can find out more about Abby at www.authorabbywood.com, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AbbyWoodFanPage and follow her on Twitter at @MsAbbyWood.

Contest: Don’t forget – Abby is giving away a copy of Consent to the Cowboy. Just answer her question and one commenter will be chosen as the winner.

A Chat With Leah Braemel

My special guest today is Leah Braemel, a friend and fellow author at Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. Leah has a new release out called Texas Tangle. It’s currently locked and loaded on my reader, and I can’t wait to find time to read it. Meantime, I asked Leah a few probing questions about herself and her writing. I think she deserves a medal – any woman who lives in a household of males is definitely braver than me!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

That’s good that you asked for me to tell a little, because there’s not much to tell. I’m the only Canadian-born member of my family – my mother, father and sister are all English. I’ve been married for 32 years and hope to last another 64 (only half-kidding on that one) and have two sons who have just finished school (one high school, one college) but still live at home. Oh, and I have a cat, Spike, who is very disgusted that my lap is often taken by my laptop instead of him. (If you noticed, they’re all males, even the cat. So no frilly stuff in this household. They won’t even allow flowers on the wallpaper, the upholstery or the curtains. Plain colors only please. Talk about testosterone poisoning.)

As for my writing…I wrote my first story when I was around seven. My sister and I were addicted to a brand new science fiction show called Star Trek. (Yes, this is during its first run, before it was known as “The Original Series.” My sister was so enamored of it that she started writing her own scripts. That was the first time I twigged to the fact that people wrote books, that I could write down the stories that I’d tell myself when I went to bed each night. I wrote down one of my ideas and showed it to my sister who was my very first critic. She was also my last critic because after that horrific review (which was probably dead on the mark) I vowed to never show anyone my writing Ever. Again. And I didn’t. For close to 40 years. Oh, I wrote lots of non-fiction manuals for my job, and I wrote newsletters and articles and such, but my fiction I kept hidden and didn’t dare show anyone until the mid 90s. I can’t remember why I trusted that particular friend with my writing but she told me I should try to get published. But I blew her off. “Everyone’s trying to get a book published, I wouldn’t stand a chance” I told her. And I kept that stance until about 2004 when I met a lady on line who was trying to get published. I showed her a bit of my writing and she also encouraged me to get published. She became my critique partner, but after opening her first critique I wondered how the heck she thought I could get published, there were comments made on every line. Of course, she was right on the money and soon I’d learned about showing versus telling, and passive verbs versus active verbs. Then she did the unthinkable. Because I’d been waffling about actually submitting any of my work to an editor or agent, she issued a dare. Next thing I knew I was registered for the 2007 RWA conference and had an appointment with an editor who asked to see a partial of my story.

Texas TangleYour new book, Texas Tangle, is a ménage a trois. What attracted you to write a ménage a trois?

Hmm, that’s a good question. Texas Tangle wasn’t supposed to be a menage until Brett walked in as a secondary character. Then one thing led to another, LOL, and the story demanded it. Menages are always a challenge to me because although I do know a few couples (triples?) who have had them in real life, they’re not generally socially acceptable. After Private Property came out, I had a reader mention that she’d loves to read about menages that end up turning long term, so I played around a bit with Texas Tangle to see if I could find a situation where I could see it being an obvious solution that all parties could live with.

Where did the idea for Texas Tangle come from?

Partly from a trip to Texas I took a few years back, and partly because I love the rural way of life (I was raised on a farm.) As for Nikki’s being robbed, that’s drawn straight from real life — being robbed, excuse me, burgled, steals more than your belongings, they steal your peace of mind. I’ve known quite a few women very similar to Nikki and a couple like both Brett and Dillon, so when I started writing the story, they just seemed naturals for that setting.

What do you tell people when they ask you about writing love scenes or ask the inevitable question of your husband – do you do all that stuff?

It sometimes depends on how I’m feeling or how they ask. Most times I laugh it off and say I have an active imagination and my husband grins and says he loves being my research assistant. There have occasionally been people who are a little more judgmental in their questioning so I have to bite my tongue and not ask them if they would ask Jeffrey Deaver or Harlan Coben how many people they’ve killed in real life researching their stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to Mr. Deaver or Mr. Coben, of course.)

What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?

Depends upon the season — throughout the winter, sitting inside by the fireplace, curled up beside my hubby watching a movie. In the summer? If it’s too hot, then I’m sitting inside curled up beside my hubby writing while he watches golf.

What tip would you give to an aspiring writer who is just starting their writing journey?

Write! Seriously. You can’t find your voice until you’ve written for a while. And if you do plan on getting published at some point you have to have something finished to submit to an editor. That can only be accomplished by writing until you can type those two lovely words “The End.” (Then the editing begins, but that’s another story.)

If you want to know more about Leah, her website is at http://LeahBraemel.com and her blog is at http://leahbraemel.blogspot.com. They can also follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.

And here’s an excerpt from Texas Tangle

Brett reached for Dillon’s front door then stopped. Why couldn’t Dillon have been home? At least that way he knew he could control himself. Even though he’d stayed away a full month, he still hadn’t gotten her out from under his skin.

Get it over with. Give her the news, then stay far away.

He lifted his hand and after a moment’s hesitation, knocked on the door. Maybe he’d get lucky, and she wouldn’t be here. Maybe she’d gone into town with Dillon.

The door creaked open, and there she was, wearing one of the white shirts he’d left behind, a pair of cut-offs beneath. She’d left the top three buttons undone, giving him a tantalizing view of her cleavage. His cock punched against his zipper at the thought of unbuttoning the rest of the buttons, of spreading the fabric wide and tasting her nipples.

Why didn’t he just cut off his balls and hand them to Dillon on a plate?

“Brett?” She looked startled to see him. “Come on in.”

He followed her into the kitchen, watched her fiddle with the coffee maker. Nikki never fiddled and, more importantly, she wasn’t looking at him. He made her nervous. Did she worry he might try something on her again?

His fists clenched at the thought that he might have scared her, made her think he might take what she wasn’t willing to give.

“I didn’t mean to drive you away.” She made a gesture of impatience. “I’m sorry, I’m being selfish. I just…I’ve missed you.”

The heated blood racing through his veins headed south when she smoothed her hands down her front, tightening the fabric over her breasts, accentuating that she wasn’t wearing a bra.

Did she realize how beautiful she was with the color high in her cheeks when she blushed? Longing spun his senses until he felt like he’d been caught in a twister, especially when she turned those soulful eyes on him. The lost tone in her voice cut right through him, pierced defenses he didn’t know he’d erected.

Purchase Texas Tangle from Carina Press

Leah is giving away a download of her ebook Private Property to one lucky commenter. All you need to do to enter the draw is either ask Leah a question or tell us what you say to people who give you a hard time about reading romance. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 14th of July.

Contest Winner

Congratulations to Stacey S who wins a $25 Amazon voucher in my quarterly contest. I’ve emailed you privately.

To go into the draw for my next contest to win a $25 Amazon voucher, all you need to do is visit and comment on one or more posts here at Taste of Kiwi.

Quick Six with Tawny Weber

I’m visiting Tawny Weber today and giving away a print copy of Tea For Two. Come and say hello.

Link to Tawny Weber’s blog

(scroll down for today’s post)

Finding Love & Fortune, Old Age & Wrinkles

Tea For Two Where do you find love? It’s a question I asked here on my blog not long ago, producing some interesting answers. Today the Tea For Two Tour continues at Love Romance Passion and I’m talking about romance and meeting places. I’m also doing a giveaway so don’t forget to come and say hello.

Random thought – I must have more wrinkles than I thought because the bus driver stopped at the old folk’s home to let me off the bus, instead of continuing to the stop just a bit farther down the road. (which is closer to my house) He was trying to be nice, but I think I should be insulted. What do you think? LOL I think everyone is picking on me this year, that’s what I think.

Lost & Wandering

Wanderlust I’m visiting Nikki Duncan’s blog today where I’m talking about traveling and books. There’s a download of Wanderlust up for grabs. Comment on my post and you’re in the draw.

I’m also doing a guest spot at The Romance Studio Blue about a particular weakness of mine–my total lack of a sense of direction. Just ask my husband. :grin:

It’s Tea and Romance with a Side of Aliens!

Tea For TwoToday I kick off my Tea For Two book tour at Book Junkie. I’m talking about books and keeping track. There’s a giveaway, so come on over and say hello.

My monthly column at The Raven Happy Hour is also live today. Do you know what to do if you see a UFO or come face-to-face with an alien? No? Then you should come over and take notes because you never know!