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Friday, July 21, 2017

A Summer of Expansions


Expansions...the new challenge! With all the box sets out there, many of us are either choosing or being asked to expand our stories for individual release. Sounds easy, sounds fun...but when I recently took hold of my story from Hero to Obey, the volume that hit USA Today and made my entire year last year, it was not as easy as I'd expected.

Sitting down with my trusty laptop and some great 1970s music to inspire my 1970 story, I found myself really puzzled on what direction to go. Should I take the story into the future of the characters' lives? Add more detail about the story as it happened? Add a 1945 dream sequence involving a whole new trip into research land?

So many options, all of which were interesting, challenging, and in the end puzzling. Instead of pounding out word count I had to consider each paragraph, each sentence for building opportunities. I can't lie...historicals, even those that occur during years since my birth, can be a challenge. I believe 1970 counts. But the difference between this and say Topaz's Trials which took place in the 1850s is that I have live sources to chat up.

It was a lot of fun to revisit Bound by Her Captain. I missed Anya and Captain Mark and was glad to get to spend more time with them. Friends from another time, written in another time. I'm looking forward to expanding some of my other box set stories in the future, for this reason. And also because rather than being the "easy peasy" project it sounded like when I took it on it was tough. But hopefully readers will enjoy spending more time on the decks of the US Coast Guard ice breaker, Northern Lights as the captain, crew, and one very smart Soviet scientist travel into the Arctic to find a mythic beast. Watch for Bound by her Captain in August. And as for future expansions, the sky's the limit.

Enjoy the rest of July and August. I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy some fun in the sun!
Kate Richards

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Perfectly Skeptical in Tropical Tryst - 25 new sexy reads #SexyAnthology #Romance #PerfectlySkeptical


Today we have a special treat. Linda O'Connor is here answering a few questions - because inquiring minds want to know - and she's giving us a sneak peek into Perfectly Skeptical, her novella in the Tropical Tryst anthology.

Welcome, Linda!



Hi I’m Linda O’Connor! I live in Ontario, Canada in a house with a view of Lake Ontario. I love to write listening to the waves in the summer and overlooking the ice in the winter. I balance writing with my work as a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic and being a mom to three sons. I started writing 4 years ago and published my debut novel, Perfectly Honest, with Soul Mate Publishing. Turns out double double, chesterfield, and pop are very Canadian – who knew? I’ve had fun learning to write for an American audience. I’ve since published a second story with Soul Mate Publishing and 4 more romantic comedies in the Perfectly Series as an indie author.

What genre(s) do you write in? Do you have a favorite?

I started writing because I wanted to find a fun way to disseminate medical information and to educate and empower readers to take ownership of their health. Targeting a female audience with romance novels seemed like a good idea because women are usually the ones who see a doctor. (Males typically only go when a girlfriend/partner/spouse/mom encourages them to do so. :D) I write romantic comedies because I love being in a fun headspace when I’m writing. I think laughter is essential to great health!

Do you read in the same genre you write? Or do you like to read something else? If so, which genre?

I read a wide variety of genres, but my favorite stories are romantic comedies and really anything with a happily-ever-after ending.

Besides being an author and super awesome, what other fun things do you like to do?

I love Zumba classes and being outdoors. I cycle in the summer and cross-country ski in the winter.

What's your guilty pleasure?

Skittles :D

What is one thing that very few might know about you?

I make earrings as a hobby (it’s handy for gifts!).

Where can we find you on the web?

I hang out at www.lindaoconnor.net (net as in networking :D)  Website   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Amazon Author Page   |   Newsletter




About Perfectly Skeptical (Perfectly Series novella)

Dr. Brianna Scott looked forward to sleeping away her staycation, until a windfall meant an upgrade to palm trees, an ocean view . . . and the sexy Dr. Matt Gaelen. She’ll have fun, but can a holiday fling really turn into a soul mate for life? Doubtful.

Matt has no radar for sniffing out gold-diggers and protecting his heart. Except Brianna is more turned off than turned on by his wealth. What are his chances of getting her to overlook it? Dubious at best.

Improbable and iffy – the typical path to love.

Perfectly Skeptical is one of 25 brand new sexy romances in the Tropical Tryst Boxed Set. Escape with us to a hot and tropical setting for only 99 cents. It’s available for pre-order now and will be released Aug. 1. Can’t wait to share Perfectly Skeptical with you!

Buy links: Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble  |   Kobo   |   Google Play


And bonus: visit www.tropicaltryst.com for special pre-order giveaways and join the Tropical Tryst Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/TropicalTryst/) for updates and a chance to win Tropical Tryst swag!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Walking the Story Down the Aisle with @SusanAnnWall #TropicalTryst #RB4U #SummerReads


How exciting to be one of the 24 authors in Tropical Tryst! This collection includes some fabulous Off Balance, my novella featured in the Tropical Tryst set.
summer and beach reads! The setting for my story – a tropical cruise – was inspired by a recent cruise I took with my mom in the southern Caribbean. What a great escape! I had so much fun revisiting these places as I wrote
I loved writing the hero and heroine too, and their “origin” stories are fun and unique.
The heroine in Off Balance, Heather Wolfe, first appeared as a cell phone sales clerk in 3rd Trip to the Altar, book #3 in my Superstitious Brides romance series, where she boldly gives her phone number to the hero, Brent Daniels, after she gets his phone set up for him with a new number.
“Your phone’s all set. Here’s the new number.” Heather slid a paper across the desk. “I put my number below it, you know, in case she doesn’t contact you and you decide to move on.”
Brent never calls because his heart is otherwise occupied with Tristin May, his future wife, and Heather moves on, her interests leaning toward Haven Masters, her yoga instructor and mindfulness coach in Off Balance.
When I first wrote Heather in 3rd Trip to the Altar, I had no intentions of writing her as a heroine later, but I took this scene to my NHRWA critique group and everyone loved her boldness. That sealed her fate: she was to have her own story.
When I sat down to write her story, I was challenged with finding a hero worthy of her boldness. I can’t tell you why, but I knew in my heart he had to be a yoga instructor. That’s all I knew. He didn’t even have a name and I can’t write until I know that small detail about my characters.
One morning, I went out for a chai latte with a friend – named Heather, no less – and she helped brainstorm ideas. Turns out, she had a crush in high school on a beautiful creature named Haven, and since her crush never culminated in anything, we thought this was a great opportunity to bring Heather and Haven together (even if Heather Wolfe is completely different from my friend). So a hero was born.
I knew I had the right name when I recently spent some time at a beach on the Jersey shore, putting the finishing touches on this story. The name of the beach? Beach Haven. Crazy!!
Off Balance is the 8th book in my Superstitious Brides romance series. All the stories stand alone, but if you love small town romances and revisiting characters in multiple books, this is the series for you.
A few bits of trivia about the series:
·         Every story ends with a wedding.
·         There is a central animal in every story, as shown on the covers!
·         My daughter names most of the animals in the stories. The exceptions are Chocolate and Vishnu.
·        
I’m currently working on book #9, Wish Upon a Sleigh Ride, which will be part of the Spicy Christmas Kisses 3 box set coming in November. This is a sort of Han Solo meets Princess Leia love story in that they are both stubborn and strong-willed and start off not liking each other a whole lot. If you’ve read the first two books in the series, you’ve already been introduced to resort events coordinator Melody Starr and farrier Cooper Harris. Can you guess what kind of animal will be central to the story?



Big dreamer and certifiable overachiever Susan Ann Wall embraces life at full speed and volume. She’s a beer and tea snob, can be bribed with dark chocolate, and the #1 thing on her bucket list is to be the center of a Bon Jovi flash mob.

Susan is a USA Today bestselling, multi-genre author of racy, rule-breaking romance and women’s fiction. Her bragging rights include the Fighting Back for Love series, Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love series, Superstitious Brides Romance series, Sunset Valley Women’s Fiction series, and Devon Taggart Suspense series. She also likes to boast about her three maniacal children, two amazing rescue dogs, and a happily ever after that started while serving in the U.S. Army and has spanned over two decades (which is crazy since she’s not a day over 29).

In her next life, Susan plans to be a 5 foot 10, size 8 rock star married to a chiropractor and will not be terrified of large bridges, spiders, or quiet people (shiver).



If you’ve read this far, you’ve earned a sneak peek of Off Balance.

Between wrapping things up at work before her vacation, and packing for the vacation itself, she’d had little time to do anything except fantasize about this project. Okay, not entirely true. She’d had plenty of time to fantasize about Haven, talking to him about code until his eyes glazed over and he eased her down on a yoga mat and had his wicked, spiritual way with her.
None of that had panned out. Haven was attentive, she had to give him that, just not to her. There were ten other travelers on this tropical retreat, and every single one of them demanded a chunk of Haven’s time during the journey from New Hampshire to San Juan, Puerto Rico. By the time they’d arrived in San Juan, checked into the hotel, and eaten dinner, Heather was ready to collapse. Anywhere would do, the hotel bed, the sandy beach just yards from the hotel, even the restaurant chair.
“Let me get you tucked in,” Haven had offered. Twelve hours earlier, those words would have made her panties go up in smoke, but when he’d uttered them last night, her eyes were already closed, panties securely in place.
Now they were boarding the ship, but it wasn’t exhaustion that prickled Heather’s nerves. For the next seven days, she would be in close quarters with Haven. While this was what she had manipulated, doubts sparked every cell in her body. She had never been on a cruise ship, but knew the cabins would be smaller than any hotel room she’d ever stayed in, the bathroom smaller too. The quarters weren’t just tight, but intimate in way that shattered her comfort zone into a million tiny pieces. Yes, she had created this scenario knowing it was a bad idea, but doing it anyhow because she’d been existing in a zone of safety for far too long.
Their group of twelve all had rooms in the same area of the ship, port side, midship, just a couple floors down from the first main floor. They all made their way together, everyone seeming pleased with the accommodations as they opened their cabin doors. Now it was time for Heather to do the honors with the cabin she and Haven would be sharing for the next seven nights. Swiping the key card across the panel, she got the green light and turned the handle, only to stop short when she spotted the bed.
The one giant bed.
“Ooomph,” Haven grunted as he plowed into Heather, making her stumble forward. “Sorry, I wasn’t expecting you to stop. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, but the room…” she stepped in, Haven following, until she got far enough in that she could step aside. “I don’t…they said the room would have two beds.”
While the thought of sharing this giant bed with Haven turned Heather’s insides to a warm, gooey mess, she knew Haven would have a problem with it. She turned to him, ready to apologize, but when she was greeted with his warm smile, the words slipped from her mind.
“It’ll be fine. We can make this work,” he assured her.
Did that mean he wanted…no, Heather couldn’t allow that thought to settle. The fantasies were fine because she knew they were just that, but if she allowed herself to think deeper than the fantasies, she’d just be setting herself up for disappointment. She had a solid plan to spark his interest, she just needed to exercise a little patience.
“Oh, I didn’t realize you two are together. I just thought you were doubling up to save money,” Cat said from the doorway.
Heather pushed by Haven to face Cat. “There’s a mix-up. We were supposed to have separate beds.”
“Well, reowwwww,” Cat responded, making a cat-like motion with her hands. “You two have fun.”
Cat closed the door with her quick retreat, leaving Heather all alone with Haven in their tiny cabin and the giant bed. “I’ll go to guest services, see if they can change our cabin. The reservation shows we are supposed to have two twin beds.”
Haven took a couple steps toward her to close the distance and gripped her arm in that gentle and comforting way that always grounded her in the moment. Heather had always been confident around men, to her own detriment, usually, but that was better than acting like a bumbling fool. She didn’t understand why Haven brought that side of her out. “If that will put your mind at ease, then go ahead, but the one bed doesn’t bother me.”
Heather nodded, desperate to leave but unable to step out of his firm yet gentle hold. “I just don’t want you to think…” To think what? That she’d manipulated the reservation so they would have to share a bed? It wasn’t a stretch considering she’d done just that so they could share a room.
“I don’t think anything,” he assured her. “Take a deep breath, Heather. Everything is going to be fine.”



Sometimes, to find your center, you must collide with the one who throws you off balance.
Heather Wolfe started practicing yoga as a way to find some balance in her life and maybe decide on a new career. After the world of software engineering sucked the life out of her, she’s bounced from job to job to job, never finding any satisfaction. The same is true of her love life. She’s never been afraid to go after what -- or who -- she wants, but so far, the direct approach has produced zero results. She hasn’t ignored the crush she has on her yoga instructor, Haven Masters, but she’s kept it on a short leash while she devises the perfect plan to get him to make the first move. When Haven asks her to book a tropical cruise retreat for his Mindful Masters of Self class, of which Heather is a student, she puts her new skills as a travel agent to work, manipulating the accommodations to propel her plan forward.
Along his journey to enlightenment, Haven has come across many bumps and roadblocks, but never once has anything or anyone thrown him off balance the way Heather does. Normally confident, he’s confused by his hesitation to ask her out, but when they are thrown in a small cabin together for seven nights aboard the cruise ship, he believes it is the Greater Spirit providing an opportunity that he must seize. Heather doesn’t seem comfortable with the arrangements at first, but after their first night aboard ship, things start moving so quickly, Haven’s head spins as fast as his heart races. Heather seems to have everything he’s been looking for in a woman, so much so that she seems too good to be true. All Haven can do is look for his center again and hope he finds it with Heather.



Monday, July 17, 2017

More crazies!!!!

People seem to enjoy my more irreverent posts,  so here's a new one.  Again, you can tell me your pick after you read them all.

1. It's not whether you win or lose, but how you place the blame.

2. A fool and his money can throw one heck of a party.

3. When blondes have more fun, do they know it?

4. Learn from your parent's mistakes...use birth control.

5. Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

6. If at first you don't succeed, sky diving is not for you.

7. We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.

8. Red meat is not bad for you.  Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.

9. Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give all the rest a bad name.

10. Xerox and Wurlitzer will merge to produce reproductive organs.

11. Alabama state motto: At least we're not Mississippi!

12. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

13. The latest survey shows that three out of four people make up 75% of the population.

14. I think Congressmen should wear uniforms, you know, like NASCAR drives, so we could identify their corporate sponsors.

I'm working on final edits for a new book, My Elusive Earl, for MuseItUp, but haven't got the cover yet. I'm anxious to see what they do with my hero and heroine for this one...I love the story of their romance, of course. And don't forget, tell me your favorite and I'll tell you mine!

Remember, so let me know your pick of these crazies!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

What to do When You're NOT Expecting...A Book by Suz deMello (#writersblock)



Last month, I blogged about what I do when I’m blocked, which is practically all the time these days. Below is one of my approaches:

Paradoxically: stop trying. Yes, I actually mean stop writing. Instead, do something else that exercises your creativity. My favorite is refinishing old furniture. I recently moved back into my condo, where a tenant’s been living while I cared for my elderly mother. She’s with my brother now, so I can resume my life, and I love being back in my home. But there were a lot of built-ins in my mom's house, including a huge dresser, where about a third of my clothes had been tucked. And I gave my now ex-boyfriend the storage I’d been using—which itself had been a rescue-and-refinish item. So I get to do the same thing all over again. Yay!

I love the process of finding the right piece, deciding what colors to paint it, discovering the perfect drawer pulls. But you have to have the temperament for this. You have to love wandering around thrift shops and hardware stores. I happen to, so I’m good.

On a lark, a friend and I stopped by a Goodwill furniture store on Memorial Day, and spotted a solid maple dresser for only $90:



I instantly knew that I had spotted a great deal, so I bought it. And at checkout, I discovered that the deal was even better than I’d thought—Memorial Day was half-off day at Goodwill! So YES! I got this treasure for only $45!

I called a Lyft and got it home, where (as you can see) I put it on my lawn. Why, you ask?

Most paint should be used in places with excellent ventilation. I also knew I’d be sanding, and didn’t want to breathe in the dust. Plus, I’m clumsy and guaranteed to get paint all over the place despite how careful I might be. So the lawn is perfect. So the grass gets paint on it—so what? It grows out and gets cut.

Stage one: taking out drawers, sanding and applying the first coat.




I chose a chalk paint on the advice of a gal at my local hardware store, who seemed well versed in the Shabby Chic school of furniture refinishing, and that’s a look I love. So I tried it.






After sanding, I got a beautiful distressed look (above). However, that paint was not going to stay on and look beautiful. It flaked off when scratched with a fingernail. So I opted for a more conventional look—used primer and an acrylic based paint, topped by a spray varnish.

In the middle of the process, it unexpectedly rained:




But I was undeterred. Because of the rain and generally odd weather (anyone doubt global climate change? I don’t. It’s not supposed to rain so much in June in SacTown, and this year it rained a lot.) I moved everything undercover:





As you can see, I chose white with the drawer fronts in pale grey. I decided upon this color scheme for a few reasons—my default color for almost everything is white. I like my home to be light and bright. As for the grey, that was about the drawer pulls. This dresser has a bizarre number of drawer pulls—twenty. No, you didn’t misread that. There are twenty drawer pulls on a dresser with nine drawers. On top of that they are in two different sizes.

The ones that came with the dresser were hideous faux early American. Clearly intolerable. When I went to a hardware store to choose new pulls, only one type came in two sizes, the cup style ones I chose. They came in brushed silver, so I chose grey drawer fronts in hope that they would sort of blend together and the finished piece wouldn’t look so busy.

I also decided against the distressed look...after I had painted the thing with multiple coats of primer and paint, and then sprayed it with polyurethane finish, it was really hard to sand through all that to get the beat-up look. So I opted for letting it be.

And here it is, in place in my bedroom:




What do you think?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Holiday Flashback

In honor of RB4U's Christmas in July contest, I'm bringing back a holiday post from a few years back: enjoy! Best of luck with the amazing contest!


A Romance Writer’s Letter to Saint Nicholas

©2013, Cindy Spencer Pape

Dear Santa Claus,

‘Tis the month before Christmas and all through my house,
Everything’s crazy, down to the last mouse.
The stocking are hung, but they’re crooked and worn.
Could you bring us some new ones that haven’t been torn?
Or a maid to do dishes and cook a good meal?
While I’m finishing up this next three-book deal.

My children are tucked, all snug in their beds
While visions of X-boxes dance in their heads.
Could you bring me some headphones so that I can write,
Without hearing gunshots and screams through the night,
As the zombies they kill and the aliens fry.
It’s hard to write love scenes to “Die, jerkface, die!”

Papa is asleep, the remote in his lap,
While I on my keyoard do tap, tap, tap, tap.
Please bring me an hour or two for each day,
So I can both work and the clothes put away.
The laundry is piled clear up to the door.
While all last week’s junk mail is strewn ‘cross the floor.

I meant to bake cookies and gingerbread too,
But the sugar is gone and I can’t find my shoes.
We did buy a tree and it ought to be lit,
But who has the time when the deadlines do hit?
I’ve still to buy presents, could you bring me a few?
For who has the time, and the mall is a zoo?

Just one chapter more and I’ll call it a night.
Dear Santa, I do wish you well on your flight.
Please add a new plot twist or two to your sack,
And some fresh inspiration for this tired hack.
I could use a good hero with a strong iron jaw,
But he must be an alpha and must have a flaw.

And a heroine sweet, but not too sweet you know,
And a setting where everyone will want to go.
Please don’t forget when you visit my place,
To leave a few meals to stuff in my face,
So I can keep working despite all the rage,
I hear when I tell them all, “Just one more page.”

I wish most of all for a night with my spouse,
With the kids taken care of and out of the house.
No housework to do and no pages to write,
Just the two of us for one lovely night.
To remind him that he is the love of my life,
And how happy I am to still be his wife.

So please while you’re at it, bring something for him,
For he knows that my writing is more than a whim.
He loves me despite the fool life that I lead.
And really, St. Nick, that is all that I need.
To live and to love and to write about those,
Keeps me happy and smiling as sweet as a rose,

So now that you know what I’m needing this year,
I do hope you won’t pass me by in a fear.
I shall not mug you for things on my list,
I won’t be waiting with gun or with fist,
Nor even a curled up warm by the fire,
I’ll be at my desk with a deadline dire.

Another year is swiftly fleeting,
So take this letter as my greeting,
I may forget a gift or card,
But I think of you with warm regard.
Give those you love a hard hug or two,
Happy holidays, all, may your wishes come true!

 *********************************************

Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Multiple award-winning author of the best-selling Gaslight Chronicles, she has released almost sixty novels and stories, which blend fantasy, adventure, science fiction, suspense, history and romance. Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and a bunch of spoiled dogs. When not hard at work writing she can be found restoring her 1870 house, dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

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