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Taming Toddlers During Road Trips with Kathleen Dienne

Thursday Thirteen

This week, I have a special guest–Kathleen Dienne, one of my fellow Carina Press authors. When I asked her to do a guest post, she volunteered to do a Thursday Thirteen. I think road trips with children sound quite interesting… :grin: Don’t forget to check out Kathleen’s new release Her Heart’s Divide!

Thirteen Things I Didn’t Know About Road Trips With Small Children

by Kathleen Dienne

Hello, Shelley readers! Your hostess, whose mountain of marvelous books is impressing the socks off this beginning author, was corresponding with me over author resources. She kindly invited me to contribute to this community.

To be honest, I’m kind of awkward in new communities. I didn’t used to be this way, but I decided to go pro with my writing (http://kathleendienne.com) at the exact same time that my sweet and tractable baby decided to become a toddler. As all you working moms (and if we’re moms, we’re working!) can attest, your world can get a little narrow when you’re trying to keep up with everything. I sure appreciate Shelley bringing me out of my cave to meet you :)

After my first book launched last month (Her Heart’s Divide), my husband and I decided to go on a family vacation. We hadn’t taken one since our son was born. We love road trips and living history, so the inaugural family trip was an eight hour drive to Dearborn, Michigan, and the Henry Ford museum and village.

All of you experienced parents are already laughing.

For those of you with no kids, read on.

1. Raisins seem like a wonderful car food, but they are not.

2. Anything that becomes sticky when you grind it into upholstery is a bad car food.

3. Especially bananas.

4. One should not feed a diaper-wearing toddler nothing but fruit for two hours.

5. If a small toy is dropped, you can find it by identifying the one spot no one in the car can reach without pulling over.

6. Every rest stop in Ohio looks identical. This will comfort your toddler and cause him to associate the graceful little dome with “getting out of the car.”

7. A child who sees the little dome as it passes by his window can be astonishingly loud.

8. There are a lot of eighteen-wheelers on our nation’s highways, and a toddler can say “Bye bye big truck!” to every… single… one of them.

9. You don’t think you can sing Old MacDonald’s Farm more than twenty times in a row until you’ve done it.

10. A child who wakes up if an ant sneezes can sleep through a storm beating down so hard that every vehicle on the road is forced to pull over and stop on the shoulder.

11. The hotel’s minifridge is just as fascinating as a costumed interpreter running a loom.

12. It is good to make time for a toddler to just run across a big lawn and shriek with glee.

13. If you’re genuinely trying to keep your kid happy and behaving well, pretty much everyone in the world wants to help you… so let them.

What are your favorite tips for toddler travel? Got any good disasters to share?


Her Heart’s Divide

Lila was a faithful, loyal wife.

Ryan was her sexy, loving husband.

And so was Jack…?

Jack, however, was her boss, not her husband—why was he claiming her as
his own? Lila had been passionately happy with Ryan for more than
seven years. Yes, there’d been a moment when she’d first been attracted to
Jack, but then she’d met his best friend, Ryan. They’d fallen in love and married.
Jack claimed that in his world, their attraction had led to the altar.

And now she was caught between two men—two husbands—in the wildest situation Lila could ever have imagined. But what she wasn’t imagining were the two men touching her, pleasing her, caressing her…

Purchase from Carina Press

Myths & Legends: Seeking Kokopelli

I’m blogging over at Access Romance today where I’m talking about myths and legends and my story Seeking Kokopelli. Here’s the link to Access Romance.

The Australian Outback – Feel the Heat!

My special guest today is Australian, Suzanne Brandyn. She is visiting today to tell us about her new release Heat in the Outback as well as a little bit about outback Australia. Over to Suzanne…

Suzanne BrandynHi Shelley,

The Australian Outback intrigues many. It is a land of vast red plains, miles and miles of dry heat, and little or few faces. I call it the red dust country. The outback begins and ends in different places according to many people. It is the remote and semi-arid interior of Australia. The term outback can cover any land outside of the main urban areas, but it generally refers to places that are more remote than what one calls the bush. Some people even say it starts at Nyngan in NSW. I believe if it is beyond large cities and if you travel long stretches of land with endless flat terrain, and it takes some time to get there then you’re definitely in the outback.

I lived on a wheat, sheep and cattle station in the outback for some time. The summers were scorching hot, the winters freezing cold. Red dust got into everything, even tinting our white clothes. I soon learned not to wear white. A windmill, missing a tooth pumped up bore water, although not drinkable, it kept a few flowering plants alive. I had to use rainwater for washing my hair (that’s when we had some) as the bore water was so hard, and it’s a problem for lathering any type of soap or shampoo.

I was driving back to the property late at night, and I had to go through at least four gates. These gates had to be closed otherwise stock would get out. I opened the fourth gate and heard a noise behind me. When I turned around, I got the fright of my life. Through the darkness, a red kangaroo stood probably two metres away. I moved my head up slowly, and kept moving it up. He was so tall and so big, talk about almost die. Lol. I bolted to my car and slammed the door. I never closed the gate. Kangaroos can grow very big, and they have been known to attack. Their long toenails are sharp weapons. They say the red Kangaroo is adapted the big open plains covering the dry interior. The one that silhouetted against the darkness behind me seemed to like a few trees.

Apart from running into red, belly black snakes, foxes, and kangaroos, I had many experiences with the wildlife. The outback holds a quiet beauty, a glorious place on earth where nature is truly remarkable. After a few years of excellent wheat crops, we left when the first big drought hit the area.

‘Heat in the Outback ‘is based in the area I used to live. I’ve used the homestead, the river and surrounding areas to make it authentic.

If your readers would like to find out more about my novels, or where to purchase them you can find it at, http://www.suzannebrandyn.com or http://suzanne-brandyn.blogpsot.com I’m also on face book, Suzanne Brandyn.

Thank you for having me Shelley. You’re very welcome, Suzanne!

:grin: Suzanne

Heat in the OutbackBlurb: Heat in the Outback

The soaring temperature in the Outback is not the only heat Sarah Munro faces when she returns home for her father’s funeral. She wants to settle his affairs, sell the family’s homestead, Munro Cattle Station, and return to Sydney, and her fiancé, as quickly as possible. Sarah doesn’t want anyone to find out what she’d done in the past. She wants to close this chapter of her life for good. Then there will never be a reason to return to this dusty one horse town. She is wrong!

Ethan Wade, her first love is at the homestead. Ethan claims he owns half of Munro Station. Sarah wants him out! As they try to settle their differences, a raging attraction ignites.

Will Sarah and Ethan find each other again as their past explodes before them?

Excerpt: Heat in the Outback

“Red alert, red alert! Hot babe soon to materialize on Main Street.”

Almost the entire town’s population of hot-blooded males received the text message on their mobile phones. They dashed for closer observation of the strange silver convertible crawling through town.

Jack was at the bowser. Pete strummed a spanner in his hand, as his mechanic Dylan peered over his shoulder. Dan from the bakery took an admiring glimpse through his window and Sam leant on the edge of the architrave of the local real estate agent. Many more enthusiasts partook of the pleasurable sight.

Summer sun reflected off honey blonde hair, swaying in the breeze of the open top convertible.

“Sure is a hot one. Where in the hell did she come from?” Pete said, his mouth easing into a grin.

“The text message was from Bill,” Dylan stated. “Guess he’s hallin’ hay to Tamworth. Sure has city written all over her.”

The convertible disappeared, leaving mouths gaping, and eyes widening with disbelief.

“What’s everyone so hell-bent about? Looks like you’re all in overload.”

“That’s right Ethan, you wouldn’t have got one.”

“Got one what?” Ethan came to a standstill and leant on the bowser.

“A text from Bill alerting us of the major babe attack.”

“Where, what?”

“Too late; she’s already gone. You know you should invest in a mobile phone. It’ll keep you up to date.”

“Waste of time, talkin’ and textin’. I like the good old-fashioned telephone, one anchored to a wall…was the woman alone?”

“Yeah, she looked like that Sarah Munro girl. You know the one that got engaged to that actor guy, the big time model on the television. She was all polished up like one of those gals on our calendars. You wouldn’t understand, Ethan.” He let out a roar. “She gave us a smile that had our hearts stoppin’, I can tell you that.”

Ethan understood all right, more than he was willing to admit.

Visit Suzanne Brandyn’s website.
Purchase Heat in the Outback from Eternal Press

Setting the Stage: World Building in Sci-Fi Romance

My special guest today is friend and fellow sci-fi fan, Kaye Manro. Forbidden Love is Kaye’s debut book, and it’s doing really well. If you’ve been following Kaye’s Forbidden Love tour, you’ll know she’s discussed some really interesting topics. This is her last tour stop, and she’s talking about world building. Over to Kaye…

Forbidden Love by Kaye ManroThank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Shelley!

World building is such an interesting subject, and I’d like to talk about just how I created my science fiction environment in my short erotic SFR Forbidden Love.

While world building is important in all genres of fiction, it is doubly true for science fiction. The process involves detailed back-story that may never end up on the written page!
In science fiction, as well as science fiction romance, (SFR) authors tend to spend a lot of time on world building. In the created worlds especially those involving space travel the process usually starts with designing the star and solar system in which the planet resides.
Here’s an example from my own world building experience. When I created the premise for the Forbidden series (book one is Forbidden Love, which recently released at Red Rose Publishing) I wanted an astounding species with touches of reptilian DNA. For that, I needed the proper environment for them to exist. Their planet needed to be atmospherically disruptive and wild, a little like Venus but able to sustain life. While in opposition, I wanted the species to be an ancient and peaceful but advanced culture, capable of traveling across galaxies by way of hyper-jumps through invented event horizons.

I had a vague idea of what I should call this world, and those red-orange colors kept popping into my mind. I created the name for the planet by combining words like orange and ascorbic because it reminded me of vitality and virility. I melded the two words and Asconage was born.

As I pondered, what Asconage might be like, visions of its solar system came to mind. Asconage is a desert-like world, and I needed to create an extremely arid environment. This planet, painted in russet, ginger, and mauve with an indigo-purple and hued red nighttime sky, orbits two suns, one near and one far. The binary system makes intense heat possible without causing a total planetary meltdown. This is the main reason why T’Kon’s species developed along the evolutionary path it did. I hope this gives you an idea of how everything ties together.

I wanted T’Kon’s race, though extremely technologically and physically advanced, to have archaic beliefs and laws governing the people that preserve the purity of their species. In Forbidden Love, that’s exactly why T’Kon has a hard time coping with his attraction to Maya, the heroine. She is from a human species on an Earth-like world known as Terrain. T’Kon is an explorer and scans Maya’s world for possible contact when his spacecraft crashes into the Terrain surface.

Truly, Forbidden Love came alive only after I had spent time developing the foundation for which I based this story and that is world building. Here is how the story actually unfolded–

Forbidden Love is a futuristic sci-fi erotic romance. Yes, there is space travel at FTL (faster than light). But there is also lots of sexy sensual exploring between the hero T’Kon and the heroine Maya, who hail from different galaxies and evolutionary paths. Rules on T’Kon’s planet forbid interspecies mating. But when he crashes his spacecraft on Maya’s world close to her desert home, what else is he to do but let this lovely alien tend his, umm, injuries?

Here is a little taste of Forbidden Love:

Something cool and clammy grazed her arm, causing a shiver. He sat on the edge of her exam table, his face no longer tinged with the pale blueness she observed earlier; rather, a deep russet color washed him.

Maya stared at the alien awake and alive, his lean muscles tensing as he stretched. Slanted sliver blue-flecked eyes peered at her holding a puzzled look, a haunting icy glare.

“I—I’m Dr. Maya Belle,” she cleared her throat. “I found you hurt in the desert near here so I brought you to my lab—my home.” She squinted and sucked in a mouthful of air. “Who are you? It’s a foregone conclusion you’re not from this world. Where do you come from?” She tilted her head. “Do you understand me?”

Suddenly his thoughts tumbled into hers.

“I am on a peaceful mission. My cloaked spacecraft malfunctioned and crashed into your planet’s surface. You do know where it is.” She sensed his uneasy pause and then, “You will take me there.” It sounded too much like a commanded to her.

Yeah right, she thought and immediately tried to recant the notion. But it was too late. His icy gaze narrowed on her. Clawed fingers grasped a firm hold around her wrist. He emphasized one word. “Now.”

Bio for Kaye

As a romance author, I lean toward the adventuresome in my writing. I love science fiction and all the enticing quantum theories surrounding it. Where characters rush through outer space at Faster than Light speed, or teleport into another time, and even slipstream into an alternate reality. I like creating love scenes too with strong heroes, and captivating heroines. It just seemed natural to combine all these elements together in my stories and write (SFR) Science Fiction Romance.

Links:
Forbidden Love Buy Page ~ Kaye’s Website ~ Kaye’s Blog ~

A Visit To New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud

Have you ever wanted to travel to New Zealand?

I’m lucky enough to live in New Zealand, and today I give you a virtual tour of my beautiful country. I’m visiting Lisabet Sarai at Beyond Romance today where I discuss New Zealand and books.

Is Your Well Full? Author, Jane Beckenham Tells Us To Smell the Roses!

I’m delighted to welcome fellow New Zealander and Samhain Publishing author, Jane Beckenham today. Jane is currently burning up the top ten sales list with her latest release, He’s The One, and I couldn’t be more pleased for her! Today she’s talking about something that I endorse wholeheartedly – filling the well. Is your well full? Over to Jane…

He's The One by Jane BeckenhamAn interesting thing occurred a month or so ago. I stopped writing. I wanted desperately to start a new book, I was seriously over edits and line edits and galleys, and the never ending promotion, but instead of starting a new book –like most writers I have a file of story ideas I reached for those.

Sad to say, they just didn’t spark.

Instead I developed a love of cleaning windows. Pathetic, but there really is a lot to be gained by looking out of windows that are no longer marred by months of dirt and grime.

Two weeks and I was over window cleaning so I tried again and got out that list of ideas.

Nope. Not one word on the page.

Scary stuff.

I mean I’ve been writing solidly for 11 years, have 12 books under contract, and several more written, (not counting the duds when I first started). What was wrong?

Was my writing life over? Come back Ms. Muse, all is forgiven.

The darn girl stayed away and my fear exacerbated.

Then I got a rejection, and that kinda put the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Rejection does that…for a bit, but I wailed to my writing buddies “What is wrong? I can’t write? I’m no good.” It was definitely all woe is me.

Then someone asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks.

“Jane, what do you do to fill up the well?”

“What well?”

“The one that sustains you as a writer, that gives you the ‘juice’ to carry on.”

Was there one? I didn’t have a clue.

“Don’t you ever stop?”

“Nope.”

“Oh…, that’s the reason then.”

“It is?”

“Sure. You need to stop, fill up the well. You see your body is like a car. It needs gasoline to keep going.

What are you doing to refill the tank, what’s your sustenance?”

“Too much chocolate,” I replied. But what my good intended writer friend meant was what was my sustenance for my soul, for the inner being of me the writer.

This was quite a new concept for Madam Writer. “I’m a wife, mother, homemaker, worker, and writer. I don’t have time to stop or ‘juice’ up.”

“And that’s why the tank is empty, ma’am, why the well is dry and you aint getting one word on the page these days.”

“Oh….”

These words of wisdom got me thinking. Could there be something in this. Does a person need to actually stop?

So I asked bunch of writers, all wonderfully successful women who I so much admire for their ability and value for their friendship.

Here’s how they refill their well.

Pat Snellgrove – Taking me time, reading, and spending time with the family.

Clare Scott – Just taking time to breathe is good, or reading a really bad book in your genre because it makes you angry so you think ‘I CAN do better than this!’ Having a complete (brief) break so you are not compelled by having to write rather by needing to write. Of course, deadlines are really good incentives too ;-) That reminds me too – I have a snippets book in which I paste articles, headlines, piccies from mags or newspapers, and also story comments, that have made me stop and think, or laugh, or have started a storyline germinating. If really stuck I just have a read thru and it’s amazing what thoughts and schemes this triggers.

(Jane here… I love this idea of pasting articles etc…might just pinch it!)

Jean Adams – I go for a walk on a beach, or do a little gardening. Getting out in the fresh air usually helps.

(Jane… Gardening… Jean, come on over, I have weeds that are giving Jack’s beanstalk a run for his money!)

Yvonne Walus – Filling the well depends, to a degree, on what’s currently missing in my life. Sometimes I need an hour listening to 80s music, or a walk on a deserted windy beach, or an evening with friends. Sometimes I need to reconnect with people, hear about their dreams and challenges in order to get inspired about mine. Sometimes I need a “worthy cause” to write about, you know, a theme like “being a mother is more important than being a successful CEO” or “a wise husband makes his wife feel she’s the only women in the world”. And sometimes – most of the time – I just need a good night’s sleep!!!!

Wonderful M&B Historical writer, Sophia James… For me the writing well is filled by exercise. I walk each day for an hour or so and just feel enervated again. With such a sedentary job I think it’s so good to get up and move and feel the air on your face, see the world outside your computer, and shake of all the problems of your hero and heroine. A cup of coffee with a friend comes in a close second!

(Jane… love those coffee moments with you too Sophia!)

Author Nicole Bishop who I’ve known right from my very first Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference… Refilling the well to me is going for a quiet walk, singing, or pottering around at home with no set plans (I’d like to do more of this!)

(Jane…Singing from me… .nope more like warbling)

Rachel Bailey – Reading books by my favourite authors. Watching good movies. Doing things that make my heart sing, like walks on the beach, playing dog-tennis with my dogs, something romantic with dh, stopping to smell the roses.

(Jane…Ah… now I’m getting somewhere. Reading… it figures, writers love to read…Note to self…I MUST read more)

Melissa James – Research is my strongest well-filler, Jane. I read something and get excited – Dark Waltz, for example, is from reading a history text about Napoleon’s secret fleet to invade England. Her Galahad was from a university reader about Aboriginal people being declared dead illegally. A Mother in a Million came from watching a show called Missing, about how missing persons affects those left behind. The Nighthawks series came from research on how espionage works. I’ve applied that, and my history texts on 1800s espionage and a book called “The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Code” to get authenticity. It’s when it’s a subject I can’t research that I get in trouble. I lose enthusiasm, write automatically. Walks, movies, chatting to writer friends.

(Jane…research….ah that sparks something deep inside this writer who would have loved to be a history teacher…Note to self- find a book to read that is research!)

Okay, so it seems to me that I have a lesson to learn here. Stop. Smell the roses. Maybe garden a tad, have coffee, read a book or two, but perhaps I’ll pass on the singing, don’t want to frighten the dog!
Now, think I’ll go and put on the kettle for a cuppa. But seriously, I’ve learned my lesson. Go back and enjoy books, because isn’t that why we became writers in the first place.

Happy reading everyone.
Jane Beckenham

Bio: In books Author Jane Beckenham discovered dreams and hope, stories that inspired in her a love of romance and happy ever after. Years later, after a blind date, Jane found her own true love and married him eleven months later.

Life has been a series of ‘dreams’ for Jane. Dreaming of learning to walk again after spending years in hospital. Dreaming of raising a family and subsequently flying to Russia to bring home her two adopted daughters. And of course, dreaming of writing. Writing has become Jane’s addiction – and it sure beats housework.

You can contact Jane via her web site www.janebeckenham.com or email her at neiljane@ihug.co.nz

The Other Side of The Fence…Aspiring to Published Writer

I’m guest blogging at Manic Readers today about the changes of going from an aspiring writer to a published one. Here’s the link to The Other Side of The Fence.

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)

Fancy Free at Book Junkie!

I’m visiting Book Junkie today where I’m talking about my contemporary romance, Fancy Free, and where I get some of my ideas.

Fancy Free also has a great review.

Ride Free with Debra Kayn.

I’m thrilled to have author, Debra Kayn as my special guest today. Debra is taking about her newest release, Ride Free, which is book two in The Chromes and Wheels Gang series. If you like motorcycles and sexy heroes along with your romance, this is the series for you. Over to Debra…

Ride FreeThank you for letting me guest blog today, Shelley. I’m bouncing in my seat, because you have one of my favorite places to visit in blog world. :grin:

Do you think there is one special person out there in the big world that is perfect for you? Are you willing to wait for that person knowing you might never cross paths?

I’ll admit that there are days where I believe my hubs is THE perfect man for me. He reads my mind, finishes my sentences, and predicts what I need. I can tell when something is bothering him, guess how he’ll react to bad news/good news, and I just “click” with him. Then there are those times when he leaves his dirty socks laying in the living room, or he’s too stubborn to admit that he’s wrong and I’m right. Those days I wonder what planet he came from! :grin:

I love the idea of soul mates, to know instantly that you’ve met the perfect person for you with no doubts or hesitation. That is what happened to my character Sarah in Ride Free, Book Two of The Chromes and Wheels Gang. She knew from the start that biker bad boy, Reefer, was the man she’d love for the rest of her life. He wasn’t such a big believer in fate, but Sarah knew exactly what she had to do.

Here is an excerpt for you to enjoy that shows Sarah knowing exactly what she wants.

Sarah grinned. “You have to realize I’ve dreamed about riding a motorcycle of my own around the country forever. It’s the way I escaped…”

“Go on, sweetheart.” He linked his fingers with hers and brought her hand up to kiss. “Tell me what you needed to escape.”

Her nose wrinkled. “You’ve met my da, remember?”

“What about your mom?”

“She drank right alongside him. She died from cirrhosis of the liver a few years ago.” Sarah twisted her mouth. “I imagine my da is going to follow in her footsteps soon. He won’t quit for anyone.”

Reefer pulled her back down to his chest. “But why fantasize about becoming a biker?”

“To ride from one place to another with the wind on your face. All the outside noises muffled by the roar of the engine. It’s musical, don’t you think?” Sarah sat up again. “It’s strange, but the comfort I get off the drums at the reservation is the same rush I get when I hear your bike.”

His lips tightened. She smiled.

“It beats in here.” She placed her hand on his chest.

“But, your family…” he reminded her.

She shook her head. “No, it is only my da, and he is better off without the reminder that he has a daughter. He drinks more when I am around.”

“But, you have steady employment—”

“That doesn’t matter. Listen to me, Reefer. There is nothing in my life to tie me to this place.” She placed her hands on his cheeks. “I want to live the life of a biker, to sail away and live one day at a time.”

“Jesus, Sarah…” He set his forehead against hers. “I’m bad news, sweetheart.”

“Don’t talk about yourself that way.” She wished somehow his doubts might flow out of him and he’d soak up her confidence.

“The only family I have is the other bikers, Sarah. I promised myself when I was sixteen that I would never ever leave them.” Reefer’s breath caught. “I don’t know if it is fair to take you away from everything you know, away from the only relative you have. Tell me what to do, sweetheart.”

“Take me with you. Let me love you.” She wound her arms around his neck and pulled his lips towards her. “Let’s ride the wind together.”

Buy Link for Ride Free by Debra Kayn

You can find out more about the books I write at www.debrakayn.com. I love to talk to readers, so stop by and say hi!

CONTEST: Debra is giving away a copy of Ride Free to one lucky person today. All you need to do is post a comment and you’re in the draw! The winner will be announced later tonight.