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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Blogging on Blogging!

I recently read an article from a few years ago that the Pioneer Woman makes a cool million a year from her blog. A million dollars. Before she had her TV show I had discovered her and read them occasionally and found them really entertaining. But to attract that level of advertising income, just wow.

My husband, when informed, felt I should drop everything and take up blogging as a career. And I am glad to have a husband who regards what I do as a business as well as what I love more than almost anything else. But if it was that easy, everyone would do it. Drop a few lines and bam! Millions of people read it every day.
I believe it’s a special gift just like any other, and a writer’s life might not be as fascinating as a woman who lives on a cattle ranch with all kinds of amusing characters and has a real gift in sharing it with us.

So…I get up, shower feed the cats. They are excited about that but probably most readers wouldn’t be. Then I sit down at my desk and work. Well, after making coffee. Critical plasma to writing words. And as a publisher and editor those tasks take up a good part of my day. If I’m feeling really radical I go to my local indie coffee house and sit in their beautiful courtyard surrounded by all the art created by the owner and work there. And until it’s time to cook dinner or put on a load of laundry or maybe go outside and pull a few weeds in the garden, that’s about it. Nobody is going to pay a million dollars for that.

But while sitting at that desk, I get to travel in the stories I write. My characters certainly have exciting lives. It’s not that different from the fantasy games we played as children where one person was the princess and another might be a knight. Or an alien or well…this month I have five releases. I didn’t write them all at the same time and it’s just coincidental, but it’s a record for me. And not one I expect to repeat soon, but fun!
So while I don’t think I’ll ever be a million-dollar blogger I will continue to enjoy the Pioneer Woman’s anecdotes and recipes and enjoy my glamorous job.  Which I can do in my pajamas if I like.

I hope you’re having a great October. Fall is my favorite season with my birthday, wedding anniversary, and Halloween I kinda have to love it.

One of my releases this month is in Mari Carr’s Wild Irish world. When I was invited to write for it, I hadn’t had the chance to read the series…so I settled in to enjoy. I loved it! My story is entitled  His Wild Colleen and is a crossover to the MacKay Destiny series I share with L.J. Garland. I hope you'll have a chance to check it out and let me know what you think!

 Maureen Higgins is on a mission to spread her wings in the US of A. Pen pals with Laura MacKay since grade five, she’s always dreamed of the places her friend told her about. And new experiences. When Laura mentions her cousin Andy is in charge of an Irish pub in Baltimore, it sounds like just the opportunity she’s been waiting for. She boards on the first plane she can get a super-saver fare on. It takes every bit of her savings, but surely her friend’s cousin will hire her. He’s practically family, after all. But when she meets him outside Pat’s Irish Pub, nothing about the tall man with arctic-blue eyes makes her think of a relation.

Andy MacKay’s dream has always been to open his own pub and restaurant. The kind proprietors of Pat’s Irish Pub three thousand miles away from his home in Cedar Valley, are willing to take him on for a few months and let him learn the business. It’s all going well when a five-foot-nothing Maureen from Ireland shows up expecting him to hire her. Her red-gold hair and sparkling green eyes captivate him, but he doesn’t have the authority to hire and fire. And she doesn’t have the funds to make it on her own in America. Or working papers… Out of sheer kindness he invites her to stay with him. Innocent. Helping a friend of his cousin…and lying to himself.  He needs to get her on a plane asap or his attraction for this feisty colleen is going to lead him where he is not ready to go. There will be time for relationships later, after his business is up and running.

But why can’t he convince his libido and his heart to wait? Not if she keeps looking at him like he’s the last scoop of creamy ice cream on the hottest day in summer…

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nashville But Definitely Not Naughty and Other Tales

Most of you know of my love for Nashville, and of course that wouldn't be complete without the story of my friendship with my narrator, Mr. J.D. Hart. He's "performed" all of my audio books, now nearing 30 in number.

J.D. and I kind of grew up together on the romance book narration collaboration. We'd not worked together before, I'd never created an audio book and J.D. had never narrated a romance book. His past as country-western recording artist, voiceover talent and actor made him a wonderful choice as a partner in this process - but I learned about all this after we got started.

Yes, you can say our friendship and collaboration was written in the stars.

We both come from different parts of the country - I knew nothing about Tennessee, or the music scene, what Being Southern was like, and he knew only a little about California from his travels here, and knew not much of my beloved Wine Country in Northern California.

Now, a trip to Nashville would not be complete without a wandering down Broadway, looking into the history of the area, and this visit, a visit to Franklin, Tennessee, where I hope to own a home some day. It's the kind of small town feel that I love.

I came out for the Naughty Nashville book signing, and J.D. sat with me during the event, also signing pictures and talking to readers about audio books and even singing with some ladies who knew more words to country music than I ever will know. J.D. knows all the oldies and, in my opinion, still sings professionally and could do so if he chose.

There is something about a place that has 8 kinds of biscuits, with 3 additional items, on their breakfast menu. Some of these would be a sacrilege in California. It's the kind of place where people look you in the eye, and money or wealth isn't readily displayed or even well thought-of. I can sit and eat a breakfast of cheese grits, pancakes, bacon and sausage, eggs and cold processed coffee, and of course biscuits, and actually feel good about myself! Had to buy the Tee shirt from Pucketts.

I wandered down Printer's Alley, found a neat bed and breakfast I'll try out next time, felt the ghosts of entertainment past. I didn't even mind my ears ringing from the evening before when J.D. and I did some tooling down Broadway. I sat under the picture of Crystal Gayle (my husband's buddies used to call me that when we were first married because I had long hair I could sit on), and sipped my fresh squeezed orange juice and listened to a great band at Tootsies at 9 AM. Now, that's living.

I've taken a little break this summer, so it's nice to get back to my heroes that haunt my fantasies and keep me warm with memories I'll have with me forever. But this trip was just as special as it usually is. And I get to spend time with my best friend.

When all is said and done, friendship is the most important gift I possess. Things come and go. But the gift of a connection to a new place, and a friendship borne of respect and admiration in all the right ways, is truly a miracle.

Oh yes, and here's the link the most recent novella we completed:  Love Me Tender, Love You Hard. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Don't know what happened during the night, but my blog for today disappeared. Sometimes computers make me want to scream, and this is one of them. I'll post  an excerpt from my new book about this gorgeous man, and let it go at that.  Travis is everything a girl could want, but he has this idea he can never marry, so they have a terrible time getting together. Sometimes I even wondered!

Phillips hesitated just a little longer. His master was deeply asleep; in fact he was thoroughly foxed, as he did not normally drink much. Perhaps letting Miss Drayton watch for an hour or two was not a bad idea. He could be back in plenty of time before the Earl awoke, and would be better for a little rest.
Elizabeth saw his decision in his eyes, and lowered her own, so he would know the jubilance she felt. To sit with Marcus, watching over him, was all she wanted for the present. He would never know, and she could love and admire him as she could not do when surrounded by family.
Phillips opened the door. Elizabeth cast one glance at Marcus, d saw he was indeed asleep. She longed to go to him and stroke the hair that fell over his eyes, but she only gave him a cursory look. She certainly did not want to give Phillips a chance to change his mind.
 “Here, miss. Take this blanket and wrap up in it in the big chair. You don’t look too warm to me!”
Elizabeth flushed. Indeed she wasn’t. She had forgotten that both the robe and the night rail were thin, and she took the blanket gratefully.
Phillips turned toward the door.
“I think you’re right, miss. I need spelled a little. I thank you, and I’ll be back in an hour or so.”
Elizabeth knew she would be content to sit the rest of the night, watching Marcus breathe.
“I’m perfectly fine, Phillips. Do get some rest while you can. I can doze in this chair. It’s really very comfortable.”
She flashed him a smile that quelled his doubts. Miss Drayton was such an exceptional lady. He would not mind at all if she could talk the Earl into marriage.
Elizabeth curled up in the chair and let her eyes feast on Marcus. Asleep, the pain lines were diminished, and he seemed younger. His prominent cheekbones had always attracted her, as to her they signified his strength of character. His black hair was irresistibly tousled. In repose, his lips showed the inherent sensuality that his sternness sometimes hid. She thought she would be content to look at his strongly masculine features for as long as Phillips chose to rest.
As she watched, he began to move a little. He shifted restlessly, then turned on one side. Suddenly one arm threw off his blankets, as he muttered incoherently and rolled on his back.
Elizabeth went to the bedside and tried to reach the blanket to cover him, but it was on the far side. She sat down carefully so as not to further disturb him, and stretched over him to catch the edge of the blanket.
She had no time for anything but a small gasp, when Marcus grabbed her body to his, holding her tightly with both arms.
“Elizabeth,” he mumbled. “Beautiful, beautiful Elizabeth.”
Their faces only a few inches apart, Elizabeth could see that his eyes were not quite focused, but they were lit by a fire the depth of which she had not before seen. She stared at him, knowing that this was but a mirror of the flame deep within herself. It seemed so right to her to be held by this man. She knew she should move, or at least say something to get his attention, but she did not want to.   She felt the warmth that always swirled through her at his touch grow hotter, and she reveled in the mysterious feelings he was arousing. If this was wrong, she did not want to set it right.
Marcus pulled her face down for a drugging kiss. His  mouth, she thought, she finally had his mouth, and it was everything she had hoped it would be. In fact, the reality so far surpassed her innocent imaginings that she took a deep breath and came back for more. Marcus obliged willingly, and she drowned in the seductive passion that was so new and enticing. His two-day-old beard was rough against her face, but she thought only of his masculine strength, and his scent, a combination of male, Marcus and brandy.
He parted her lips with a velvet tongue, and plundered her mouth, finally tasting her the way he had so long desired. She was startled at his invasion, but soon tentatively put the tip of her tongue in his mouth, to his great delight. He began to murmur to her, soothing and delightful words of admiration. He kissed every inch of her face, caressing her body at the same time, his clever hands moving incessantly over her.   
Suddenly she realized he had switched to kissing her neck and bare arms. She had no idea how he had so adeptly removed her robe, but she did not mind being kissed everywhere. She thought hazily that this was not as new to him as it was to her, but that did not bother her. As long as he held her so lovingly, nothing could bother her. His caresses sent little bolts of pleasure through her body, and she fervently wished he would never stop. She felt his kisses and caresses in her tightened breasts, and in the heat that pooled in the lower part of her body, where all of her senses seemed to be suddenly concentrated.
Just then Marcus made a quick movement and she found herself flipped on her back, pinned under him while he reared over her and continued caressing her with his lips and hands.
She had no doubts. This was Marcus, and whatever he wanted she would be honored to give him."

I'll leave you wondering what happens next, and with aplogies for this being so late. My 
Elusive Earl came out today, so of course I wanted you all to know about it. It will be at all the usual places, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, KOBO, and of course my publisher, MuseItUp.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What's in a name, anyhow? LOTS! by Suz deMello (#iamwriting #MFRWAuthor #NaNoWriMo)

I'm sure I'm not the first writer to blog about the significance of names, nor will I be the last. There's even a wiki about choosing character names! 

Authors carefully choose names. Why?

First, the right name must fit in with your story. Tolkien wouldn't have called one of his characters John Smith--John wouldn't fit in with Bilbo Baggins or Galadriel. 

Secondly, some names are so famous that popular references have attached. Don't name a character Adolf, Madonna, Elvis or Marilyn--that choice will jar a reader right out of the story, and that's the last thing that an author wants. We want to keep the reader immersed in the wonderful, engrossing world we've created.
But an author can use that to her advantage. In Spy Game, my hero is named Richard Rexford--a conscious aping of Robert Redford. Richard is also a handsome, athletic blond, and I wanted readers to make the association.  

contains Ocean Dreams and
Viking in Tartan
Few readers picked it up, but I named a character in Ocean Dreams Sandi Ricks, after a character in the old Flipper TV show--Ocean Dreams is about a very unusual dolphin.

Also, I try to avoid too many names in a story that start with the same letter, which will confuse a reader, especially if there are a lot of characters introduced quickly. Avoid Martin and Maria, Barbara and Bobby, Jane and Jenny.

I avoid names that are unpronounceable. Readers don't only look at words on the page, but their minds are reading to them. When I as a reader encounter an odd name, I find myself falling out of the book and trying to figure out how the name is pronounced. So I avoid Gaelic names that are confusing. None of my characters will ever be named Airdsgainne or Slaibhin. In futuristics or sci-fi, one often encounters names with accents or apostrophes in odd paces. Avoid these. They distract and may even annoy a reader.
Every name has an intrinsic meaning. Dickens was famous for his interesting names, which often reflected characters' personalities. The Artful Dodger is only too obvious. Esther Summerson (Bleak House) is one of Dickens' most lovely characters, lightening one of his longest and yes, most bleak books. Stryver in A Tale of Two Cities is, indeed, an ambitious striver.

I often take my cues from Dickens. In a book I wrote for Harlequin/Silhouette, The Ranger and the Rescue, the heroine calls herself Serenity Clare, a name she chose for herself after she left an abusive husband. She pursues serenity and clarity in her life.

The hero of Viking in Tartan, Erland Blodson, is a warrior and also a vampire. The name Erland means "leader." Blodson is also obvious.
In my memoir, Perilous Play, I had to rename a man I know in order to protect his privacy. I chose the name Trapper Hart.

It wasn't a very good relationship.
I also look at the sounds of names. In Queen of Shadow, a futuristic, I created a name--Storne--for my hero, using a lot of strong-sounding consonants. 

If you're a writer, how do you choose names?

If you're a reader, what character names are particularly memorable for you?

Friday, October 13, 2017


Friggatriskaidekaphobia: fear of Friday the Thirteenth. We’ve all heard of it. But why?

There are multiple theories on the origins of Friday the 13th as a day of bad luck. A common Christian belief is that it originates from the painting of the last supper, with Jesus and his 12 disciples. The day after the meal, a Friday, he was crucified. But fear of the number 13 may go back far earlier. Just as many hotels skip a floor 13, the ancient Code of Hammurabi skipped the number 13 when setting out its list of laws. In Western culture, 12 is often a number of completion: 12 apostles, 12 days of Christmas, 12 to a dozen, 12 dozen to a gross, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 shillings to a pound, and so on. So maybe the number after “completion” just meant messing things up. Odds are, we’ll never know for sure. (Pun intended)

As for adding Friday into the mix, the Bible is often pointed to again with the crucifixion and other bad stuff occurring or speculated to be occurring on Friday. Freya or Frigga, the goddesses referenced in the word Friday neither have any association with bad luck, so it wouldn’t come from there. If we had a Lokiday in the week, then we might have cause to believe the stories. Or, if the association came about later, the Knights Templar were disbanded (and generally sentenced to death) on Friday, 13 October, 1307, which was a pretty big deal at the time.

Superstition doesn’t need a reason, of course. It’s self-propagating. Over time, anything bad on a Friday the 13th was used to shore up the belief.  Sept. 13, 1940, Buckingham Palace was bombed, Nov. 13, 1970, a cyclone killed over 300,000 people in Bangladesh, a Chilean Air Force plane disappeared somewhere in the Andes mountains on Oct. 13, 1972, Tupac Shakur was shot on Dec. 13, 1996 and a cruise ship, the Costa Concordia crashed of Italy, killing 30 on Jan. 13, 2012. All of those were Fridays. Add in the fictional horrors, and you’ve got a pretty well-entrenched superstition.

While I’ve never written a book set around a Friday the 13th, (although now I may have to—it’s a great idea!) I have used a holiday that's also rife with superstition: Halloween, coming up later this month. My very first erotic romance story, formerly titled Between a Rock and a Hard-On, was set at Halloween 2007. In the spirit of the holiday, I’ve re-released it this month as an Amazon exclusive. I had so much fun writing this—I did it in one weekend, giggling maniacally the whole time. I hope you enjoy it too—it was also my first shifter dragon story. And you know I loves my dragons!

Best of luck on this Friday the 13th, and Blessed Samhain or Happy Halloween as you prefer!

* * *

Between a Rock and a Hard Dragon

Story #1 in the Love Me Like a Rock collection.

What happens when you mix a half-dragon, a pixie and a little sex magic in a wooded park on Halloween? Neither Bram nor Twyla have any idea but when it all comes together the magic explodes in a frenzy of hot sex and sizzling romance.

* * *
Major sources used above:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Greatest Love Stories Ever Told: Marie and Pierre Curi

Marie and Pierre Curie are best known for their scientific discoveries, but their personal story is considered one of the great love stories of contemporary times.
As I've mentioned before, contemporary love stories are more difficult to present because they're well recorded, sometimes by people who knew the players intimately, and tend to lack the same fantasy and shine of myths and ancient legends. In this story, I found it impossible to separate the love story from the science which brought these two together.
Marie Salomea Sklodowska.(Curie) was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867, which, at the time, was within the Kingdom of Poland, a part of the Russian Empire. It's said she spent her younger years as an impoverished teacher and governess. Still, she managed to study at the Warsaw's clandestine Flying University, where she began her scientific training.
To understand her determination, you need to understand the educational system at the time. In Poland, under Russian control, only state-sanctioned curriculum could be taught, and that curriculum focused on stamping out Polish culture. In addition, women were not allowed to attend the universities at all [which was not uncommon throughout Europe]. So attaining an education in science took a great deal of commitment on Marie's part.
The Flying University started in Warsaw in 1882. Secret classes for women were held in private homes and taught by rebellious Polish professors and historians. Since these classes were illegal, they frequently changed the location from one home to another. Thus, it became known, among those who knew about it at all, as the Flying (or Floating) University. [For more information, go to:]
In 1891. when Marie was 24, she joined her sister Bronia in Paris to study mathematics and physics at the Sorbonne, and earned advanced degrees with top honors in both subjects by 1894. That same year, as she was in process to deciding her doctoral thesis, she was introduced to Pierre Curie by Polish Physicist, Jozef Wierusz-Kowalsku, who knew Marie was looking for a larger laboratory space.
Personality wise, those who knew Marie claim she was an elemental force of nature, and sometime referred to as Pierre's greatest discovery.
Pierre Curie was born in Paris May 15, 1859, and had earned advanced degrees by the time he was eighteen. When he was introduced to Marie, he was an instructor at the School of Physics and Chemistry in Paris. Marie was looking for laboratory space to begin a project. He found space for Marie by taking her on as a student.                 

Pierre was in his mid-thirties when he met Marie, and had been despairing of ever finding a suitably intelligent companion in life. Marie changed everything.

CHEMISTRY [And not the scientific kind]
Although the chemistry between Marie and Pierre may not have been love at first sight, as time progressed and they worked together, their mutual passion for science created a bond between them. They were not only kindred spirits, but they matched each other's intellect. At first, they saw each other to discuss projects; then it was because they couldn't bear to be apart.
When Pierre proposed marriage to her, Marie didn't accept because she wanted to return to Poland. Pierre countered and said he would move with her to Poland "even if it meant being reduced to teaching French."
Marie did return to Poland [alone] for summer break. She believed she would be able to work in her field at Krakow University, but was turned down because she was a woman. She returned to Paris and married Pierre on July 26, 1895 in a non-religious ceremony. Marie wore a dark blue outfit instead of a bridal gown, and later used that same outfit to work in her laboratory.
With common interests in science and intellectual parity, they both enjoyed long bicycle trips and traveling abroad. It was a happy marriage.

They had two daughters, Irene (1897) and Eve (1904). Their work continued and, in 1903, Pierre and Marie Curie and Henri Bacquerel won the Nobel Prize for Physics for the joint discovery of radioactivity. She was the first woman to ever win the Nobel Prize. Later she won a second Nobel for the discovery of two elements, radium and polonium. This relieved the family from the financial hardship they lived with.
Her daughter, Irene and her husband, Frederic Joloit-Curie, shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. Irene was the second woman to win a Nobel Prize.
Eve, on the other hand, became an American citizen. She is the only one in the family who didn't go into the sciences, but became a journalist and played concert piano professionally. She became well known for the biography she wrote about her mother.   
TRAGEDY STRIKESAll great love stories seem to involve a tragedy at some point. But then, so does life.
Marie and Pierre's love story ended in April 1906, when Pierre was stuck by a horse-drawn vehicle and fell under its wheels. One of the wheels rolled over his head, causing his skull to fracture and killing him instantly. Marie was devastated by his death and refused the pension the French government offered her.
A month later, the Physics department of the University of Paris decided to offer to Marie the Department Chair, which had been created for Pierre. She accepted and was the first women to become a professor at the University of Paris.            

Four years after Pierre's death, Marie, now 43, became involved with friend Paul Langevin, a married scientist with four children. They rented an apartment where they could meet secretly. Still, rumors circulated. Langevin had been a student of Pierre's and was five years younger than Marie.
Langevin's wife knew he was a womanizer. Apparently his marriage was not a happy one and, it was rumored she had once hit him over the head with a bottle. For some reason, she was infuriated about Marie. She discovered their hideaway, had someone break in and steal Marie's love letters, which Madam Langevin then threatened to expose to the press if her husband didn't break off the affair.                                                                 Paul Lagevin 
Whether or not the affair continued, the wife leaked the letters to the press three days before Marie won her second Nobel Prize, and declared she wanted Langevin's children and his money.
The press jumped on the story, painting Marie as a seductress and saying the affair started before Pierre died, which wasn't true at all. Nonetheless, her name was denigrated, and the Nobel Committee asked her to stay in France and not come to Sweden for the ceremony. She countered with a statement that discovering two elements had nothing to do with her personal life, and she went anyway.
Two duels resulted from the public brouhaha. One was fought between by editors of rival newspapers, over the merits of Madam Langevin's charges. They fought with swords, and when one was injured, they called it off and reconciled.
The second duel was between Langevin himself and a journalist who had called him a "boor and coward." Langevin challenged and insisted on pistols, but it came to naught and there was no blood shed.
Still the damage was done to Marie's reputation, and the French held her in contempt until WWI when she dedicated her work to develop x-rays for medical purposes and contributed a great deal to the war effort.

Marie and Pierre are a couple to be admired. According to  "They were two geniuses destined for each other. The Curies enabled one another to achieve greatness. They were totally dedicated to their work. They lived with very little and that did them just fine. Their love had a life of its own that gave so much to others. They took nothing for themselves and gave the world its first cancer treatment, its first ex-ray units, and three Nobel Prizes.
In the end, Marie's dedication to work cost her her life. She died of leukemia in 1934, at the age of 67, from the prolonged exposure to radiation.

Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue with a Novel by
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▪The Last Weekend In October
▪All For A Dead Man's Leg -
Book 1 – Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
▪All For A Fistful Of Ashes - Book 2 – Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
▪Destruction Of The Great Wall - Book 3 – Tour Director Extraordinaire Series – Release January 2018
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