This post is for those of you thinking about making a New Year’s resolution to diet and exercise. To start off I have to say I’m not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions, I mean if you really want to make a change in your life why wait until the New Year. Every day is the first day of the rest of your life. But that’s just my opinion if you need to wait until a specific date to make a change who am I to judge.
Okay down to business. If you want to diet I suggest you keep it simple. If you aren’t use to eating nourishing foods I suggest you start there. Instead of keeping track of everything that goes into your mouth why don’t you start by making sure that everything you eat is healthy. To do this simply cut back on fat, sugar and salt, and try and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
After a month of eating healthy you can look at portions. Portions will vary depending on your size, and activity level. I’m a small, middle-aged woman so about 2-3 ounces of meat (A portion about the size of my palm works for me.)
A word on exercise – You have to work up to your goals. If you already have an exercise routine add to it, and take a few weeks for your body to get used to the new activity level and then increase the level again. Don’t try and do everything at once, you don’t want to hurt yourself.
My last piece of advice (Not that you asked for it) Have one day a week where you take a break from the diet. It’s hard to stay away from the foods we love – forever – everyone gives into temptation eventually. I set aside one guilt-free day to have a few of the foods I love. I bake something good for breakfast, like scones or muffins. If I’m out I might enjoy a coffee and cookies with the kids, and at the end of the day I have a glass of wine. Then the next day I’m ready to eat healthy again. Allowing myself one day off a week helps me eat healthy the rest of the week, and lets face it – a couple of cookies and a glass of wine once a week isn’t going to kill me.
If you can afford it I suggest a proven program that promotes healthy food choices and exercise such as Weightwatchers.
I hope all your dreams are realized in the coming year, and I leave you with this cartoon. I hope your experience exercising is better than his.
In the mid-seventeenth century the Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, banned Christmas. For those of you who’ve never heard of him I’ll give you a brief introduction. He was a puritan member of parliament and the leading force behind the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I. I think in modern times we would call him a dictator. Although he fought for parliament in the civil war, once the war was over he abolished parliament and proclaimed himself Lord Protector of England.
Supporters of Cromwell (Yes, he has supporters even today.) say that parliament actually made Christmas illegal but I find it hard to believe that he didn’t have a hand in it. After all, he controlled the army, and had the power to dismiss parliament and take over. If he had opposed making Christmas illegal it never would have happened.
Cromwell was a devoutly religious man, who believed that everyone should live their lives in strict accordance with the bible, he passed a series of laws restricting the daily life of the population. He closed inns and theatres. Most sports were banned. Swearing was punishable by a fine or imprisonment, and women were not allowed to wear makeup. Just going for a walk on Sunday, unless you were going to church, was a punishable offence.
Even in seventeenth century they knew 25th December wasn’t really Christ’s birthday. To the puritan mind Christmas was a pagan celebration, and a relic of the Catholic religion in England. On 19th December 1643 an ordinance was passed encouraging people to use Christmas time as a period of reflection rather than celebration.
“With the more solemn humiliation because it may call to remembrance our sins, and the sins of our forefathers who have turned this Feast, pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him, by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights...”
Carnal and sensual delights? My Christmas celebrations are nothing like that. Anyway, within a year Christmas, Easter and Whitsun were officially banned. Anyone caught attending church on Christmas Day was arrested.
As you can imagine banning Christmas was tremendously unpopular. There was rioting in several cities, and people were forced to hold their festivities in secret, which was very risky considering they would have been thrown in jail if they were caught.
Cromwell died in 1658. Within two years England, once again, had a king sitting on the throne, Charles II, and Christmas was restored.
Of course making Christmas illegal was doomed to failure because even though we may tire of the crass commercialism that surrounds the holiday it is part of a much a larger concept. As I wrote in my blog post Merry Christmas or Happy Winter Solstice, there is evidence that people of the Northern hemisphere have marked mid-winter for at least five thousand years, probably longer. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that in the deepest, darkest part of the year we seem to need to celebrate the light.
For me, spending time with my family, seeing the Christmas lights, and feasting on delicious food, lifts my spirits enough to keep me going until spring. It is that emotional lift that makes the season so special. So wherever you are and whatever you believe I wish you a warm, safe and happy holiday.
I hope you enjoy my holiday photos
Darlene has kindly agreed to share her favorite Christmas music with us. And if you want to try some of the recipes featured in One Sweet Christmas check out her post on the Crappy Cook.
Over to you, Darlene.
Christmas is my favorite holiday season, and I love music. Put the two together and you’ve got the perfect combo. Christmas music is on the playlist in my house, starting the day my daughter and I decorate the tree. My daughter makes tasty Pina Clintadas (the non-alcoholic recipe). The tree is set in place, the decoration boxes are opened, and the fun begins.
You’ll find us...Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.
My ultimate favorite Christmas CD is If Every Day Was Like Christmas by Elvis Presley. I also enjoy Michael Buble’s Christmas and Lady Antebellum’s On This Winter’s Night.
My CD mix of various artists includes: Boney M, Temptations, Bryan Adams, Keith Richards, Roger Miller, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Burl Ives, Brenda Lee, and Harry Connick Jr.
The playlist wouldn’t be complete without The Chipmunks, Shrek, and Cindy Lou Who singing Where Are You Christmas.
What’s on your Christmas playlist?
One Sweet Christmas
It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candi has a whole shop full.
The coat fit snug across his broad shoulders and the pants clung nicely to his butt. Candi sucked in a breath and passed him a wig and fluffy, white beard. Jackson rolled his eyes, donning the fake hair, and topped off the disguise with a floppy red hat.
“How do I look?”
He would definitely win over the children, but a sinking feeling washed through her stomach when she envisioned the youngsters fighting their mothers to see who first sat on Santa’s lap. “Just like jolly old Saint Nick,” she said. But much hotter!
Links for Darlene:
Web Blog: http://www.findingthewritewords.blogspot.ca/
When a woman finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and the Mob, 30 SECONDS is a long time.
When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.
The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?
She panted with fear. What if they see the chest? What if we get caught? What if my breath stinks and I’m breathing right into Officer Hottie’s face? She shut her mouth and let oxygen flow through her nose.
Her eyesight slowly adjusted to the darkness and she could see Officer Herro’s silhouette. His head was turned and he was listening to the thuds of heavy boots getting louder; the intruders were coming their way.
Then the thunder of footsteps sounded right next to them. “There’s no one here, Red,” someone announced.
“Look for documents,” a man ordered, who Dani could only assume was Red. “I want the name of the person I’m going to kill.”
A moment later, there was a reply. “All the mail is addressed to a Dr. Hart.”
Hearing her name said aloud by one of the men who had ransacked her place made her want to gasp. Her mouth fell open and her breath was reversing into her lungs, but before she could make a sound, Officer Herro lowered his lips to hers, silencing her. Stunned, she could only lie beneath him with her eyes wide and her body tense. She couldn’t believe he was kissing her. She wanted to push him back, but knew if she did he might hit the inside of the chest, giving away their hiding place. That was when she realized he was kissing her so she wouldn’t gasp.
She let her body relax. After her initial shock faded, she was able to feel his lips. They were comforting and caused a reaction deep inside her. She couldn’t stop her lips from reacting to his. It was an innocent connection, a soft touch of lips. Until his hand slid from her shoulder to her neck and the kiss deepened into something
Chrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she's writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses -especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.
30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.
Discover her writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers!
I love stories, so when I learned that Lynda Simmons had written a short story to promote her latest book Love, Albert I jumped at the chance to feature it on my blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
All’s Well Etc. Etc.
(With Executive Director, Gina Baron)
“What time is it?” Grace asks.
“Four o’clock!” I snap. “Four frigging o’clock.”
Grace doesn’t care. Just paces back and forth in front of my desk like nothing happened. It’s the nurse I have to think about. My words were uncalled for and unprofessional. The kind of slip that would earn a subordinate a trip to this very office and a refresher course on sensitivity in the workplace. But it’s three-thirty in the morning, for God’s sake. I’ve been cooped up in here with the two of them for nearly an hour, and while I appreciate everything the nurse has done, I have things to do. Things that must be taken care of within two hours of rising, that’s the rule. And I will not tempt fate today.
I’m Gina Baron, after all, Executive Director of Willow Tree Long Term Care, the one responsible for the success of this boutique nursing home where even pureed meals are first class and showers are almost daily. Potential investors are expected later this morning and I’ve been assigned the tour.
I slip a hand into my pocket. The pearls are warm, a very good sign. Those investors are as good as signed. And if I have to tap dance a little to keep the nurse on side, so be it.
“Dylan, what I said—”
“I’d say Grace is back to normal,” he says and gives me a smile. “I’ll take her to her room.”
The pearls grow hot in my hand.
“Good idea,” I say and try not to fidget or appear in any way anxious for their departure. But the clock is ticking.
“Four o’clock,” Grace says.
Not yet, I want to yell but hold my tongue while she holds the doorknob a moment before heading back to the window. She’s been repeating this behaviour ever since Dylan brought her in here.
He spotted her outside around one thirty, wandering through the snow in her nightgown. Thank God he had the presence of mind to fetch her quietly, take her to my office and close the door.
He wrapped her in my afghans, fed her my tea and checked for frozen fingers or toes or anything else that would be difficult to explain. Then he called the Dire Emergency number, coming directly to me instead of the doctor or anyone else. Giving me a head start on damage control even though I haven’t said more than a dozen words to the kid since he started working here, and wouldn’t know his name without the tag above his pocket. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty, but you can capitalize on it. By the time I arrived thirty minutes later, I had a plan.
Get Grace back to bed. And say nothing to anyone.
This was not a tragedy after all. More like a fire alarm or a wakeup call. Be alert, is the take away. And no one needs to lose her job over it.
It took me off guard when Dylan agreed right away. “No harm, no foul,” he said, and if I didn’t think it would qualify as sexual harassment, I would have kissed him. I still don’t know why he’s done any of this, and I don’t care. All that matters is getting my morning routine underway.
He takes Grace’s arm but doesn’t leave.
Please make him go, I plead, but the pearls suddenly go cold.
“I know the doctor asked to have Grace transferred,” he says. “But I’d appreciate it if you said no.”
At last. The kid’s agenda. Everyone has one, after all.
“Sure.” I grip the pearls tighter and stand up. Still he lingers.
“The oddest thing happened today,” he continues. “Grace asked what time it was, then looked straight at me and said it’s time to go. Do you think there’s any connection to her getting out tonight?”
“Absolutely not.” I open a drawer. Count the candles for a third time. One. Two Three. Four. Still perfect. “She’s been hanging around the doors a lot lately.” I close the drawer, check that the red scarf is still on the back of my chair and hope I won’t be asked to burn incense again. It’s too cold to leave the windows open for long. “It was an escape waiting to happen,” I continue. “I’ll have her fitted with an alarm bracelet right away. For her own protection.”
Ten more minutes in the cold and we would have been overrun with inspectors and police by now. The doctor’s right. She’s got to go.
“It’s just strange,” Dylan says. “Her saying that and then actually getting outside.”
I glance over at the picture of my mother. “If my mom were alive, she’d say it was an evil spirit playing with us through the weak-minded.”
“Is that possible?”
“No. Now go.”
At last he opens the door, makes sure the coast is clear then hurries her along the hall. They disappear into her room. My shoulders relax, my jaw loosens.
“All’s well that ends well, right mom?” I close the door. Cover my hair with the scarf, lay the cold pearls in front of her picture and go to the drawer for the candles.
One . Two. Three?
I swing around. The pearls are gone.
A scream in the hall. Running feet.
I can’t breathe, can’t move. The scarf slides to the floor. Where are the pearls?
My door bursts open. Dylan and Grace.
I reach for the scarf. It scrambles away. Hides under the desk.
“We’ve got trouble,” Dylan says. “Grace didn’t go outside alone. Someone just found Bernice.”
And then he’s gone, leaving me alone with her.
“What time is it?” the picture whispers.
“Four o’clock,” Grace says.
“Four o’clock,” she insists.
But she’s wrong. It’s one minute past.
Pearls wrap around my neck. Candles flare.
Sirens in the distance.
I fall on my knees. “Mother, I’m begging you. Don’t do this.”
If this is your first time reading this serial story from Lynda Simmons, you can catch up with all the segments here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynda-Simmons-Author/149740745067442
Love, Albert By Lynda Simmons
Sometimes all love needs is a road trip, a rubber chicken and a touch of magic
Vicky Ferguson loves her husband Reid, always has, always will. But with two kids to think about, it’s time for the free-wheeling, sports car loving pilot to put his feet on the ground and lay down some roots. Reid can’t imagine life without Vicky but neither can he see himself pushing a lawn mower or driving a mini-van. They’re on track to a divorce neither one wants until a last request from beloved Uncle Albert puts them on the road together one last time.
“Which brings us to the issue at hand,” the lawyer said and opened a file. “I have here the last will and testament of Albert Ferguson. Handwritten but perfectly legal.” He leaned down and picked up Albert’s old leather suitcase. It was the only thing the old man ever carried – the true master of travelling light. Lyle set the case on the desk, undid the straps and slid back the zipper. Reached inside and came up with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, complete with bulbous pink nose, bushy eyebrows, and a formidable mustache.
Reid sat forward. “Not the glasses,” he said, a smile already tugging at his lips.
Lyle nodded solemnly and put them on, carefully adjusting the nose over his own before picking up the paper again. The lawyer’s delivery was perfectly straight, if a bit nasal. “I, Albert John Ferguson, being of sound mind and body— ”
Reid glanced over at Vicky. She was staring at the lawyer, eyes wide, lips pinched tightly together, holding back her laughter.
“Do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to my favorite nephew and niece, Reid Allan Ferguson and Victoria Ann Ferguson, to be used as they see fit. This includes one hand buzzer, one whoopee cushion, one pair of Groucho glasses.” He reached into the suitcase again. “One rubber chicken –”
“I’ll take that.” Vicky’s face turned pink when the lawyer paused and looked at her over the nose of the glasses. “For the kids,” she added, and turned to Reid. “Unless you want it.”
“Not at all.” He pointed to the suitcase. “But I’ve got dibs on the fly-in-the-ice-cube.”
“One fly-in-the-ice-cube,” Lyle continued, and set it in front of Reid. “One can of worms—”
“Snakes,” Reid cut in. “They’re snakes.
The lawyer slid the can toward him and Reid popped the lid. Three long colorful snakes sprang from the tin and flew over the desk, squeaking as they bounced against the walls. “They were always his favorite.” Reid smiled at Vicky. “Do you mind if I take them?”
She held up the whoopee cushion. “Not as long as I can have this,” she said, and Reid understood why Albert had loved her, too.
“You can go through the rest on your own later,” Lyle said, taking off the glasses and setting them aside. “But in return for his worldly goods, Albert has a favor to ask.”
Reid raised his head. “A favor?”
“More of a decree really.” Lyle cleared his throat and resumed reading from the will. “In return for my worldly goods, Reid and Vicky must promise to take my remains to Seaport, Oregon. ”
The chicken’s head bobbed as she sat up straighter. “But I thought he’d already been buried.”
“Not quite.” Lyle lifted a plain white shoebox out of the suitcase and set it on the desk in front of them. “He’s been waiting for you.”
Reid stared at the box. “That’s Albert?”
“Ashes to ashes.” The lawyer picked up the box. “I know it’s not much to look at, but it’s practical, sturdy, and holds up to five pounds of loved one, no problem.” He looked from Reid to Vicky. “The point is Albert didn’t want a fancy urn because he wasn’t planning to spend much time in it anyway.”
Reid shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
Lyle smiled. “Your Uncle Albert wants to fly one last time.”
Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.
With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.
When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynda-Simmons/e/B001KI3Z4O
In this enlightening post, Karyn Lawrence has kindly agreed to share her knowledge of screenwriting and how it has shaped her as an author.
Transitioning from fifteen years of screenwriting into novel writing was quite an experience. Screenwriting has both its advantages and disadvantages. First, advantages:
You learn to make every sentence count, both dialogue and description. The standard running length of a feature movie is 100 minutes, and one page of screenplay equals one minute of screen time. (Dialogue eats pages, but action sequences don’t and it typically balances out in the end.)
So I tend to start every scene at the last possible moment and get out of it as quickly as I can. I’m not going to waste a precious half page on small talk in a script, and not in my novel, either. I’m efficient, and I take it as a huge compliment if a reviewer mentions that the book was “fast paced.”
It’s unlikely I will overdo it with internal dialogue since I’m unfamiliar writing it. (That’s not something that can be seen on screen and doesn’t exist in professional screenplays.)
I do not have characters talk in monologues, because real people don’t do that. In screenwriting, a character’s dialogue block should never be more than 4 lines deep. That’s lines on the page, not sentences, and the dialogue blocks are indented so it’s even less than you think. It keeps the conversation/argument tight and moving between characters.
Structure is king in screenwriting, so I feel like I have a decent handle on Three Act Structure, the Hero’s Journey, and GOS. (Goals, Obstacles, Stakes)
There are plenty of unintended bad habits screenwriting brings to the table. I still am working to improve descriptions, especially character description. In a script, when you introduce a character you only give generic details such as: “KARA, 30s and magazine pretty, leans against a desk.” That’s all you get, so casting can send it out to a variety of actresses. I tend to describe locations all at once, because the camera lens sees it all, but in a novel it’s better if the reader’s eye can wander through and pick out details along the way.
I also forget about everything outside of sight and sound. I have to go back in and inject taste, touch, and smell to help make the scenes feel alive. When I write a script, I imagine it on a screen. Sometimes as I’m writing my novels, I slip out of the moment and into a theater, watching it play out.
Conquering dual POV isn’t easy for anyone the first time, but I felt like I was starting in a massive hole on my first novel “Stay.” That very first horrible draft, the one that no one saw but me? It was head-hopping all over the place.
Now that I’ve been writing fiction for a while, it’s getting harder for me to compare it to screenwriting. The sheer volume of work that goes into a novel is insane, but the reward is far greater: You get to share your story with many readers instead of a select few.
Happy reading & writing!
Available from Amazon
Billionaire CEO Shawn Dunn has plenty of sex, power, and money. A woman turning down his advances? Unfathomable. Yet that’s what she does, again and again.
Kara Hayward is supposed to be off limits. Her sister is hiding from the dangerous assassin she escaped from, and it’s best for everyone if Shawn keeps his distance. Certainly as far as Kara is concerned. Shawn’s only after one thing and then he’ll walk away, just like her ex-husband.
But Shawn has larger desires and he’s used to getting what he wants. He doesn’t care if being together is dangerous. He doesn’t believe that threat to him, or his empire, is real. Right up to the night he has everything taken away.
If she weren’t so emotionally and physically exhausted, she’d be immune to him. Maybe immune wasn't the right word. Resistant, perhaps.
They hadn't taken their clothes off. Shawn had barely touched her. And still, the encounter left her desperate and shaky. Filled with need for him. Wanting him. It had easily been the hottest twenty minutes of her life.
Good-looking, her sister had warned her once about Shawn. Not even close. Jason was good-looking in a rough and tough sort of way. Her sister had always liked the bad boys and while Jason, the head of security, looked more conventionally dangerous, Kara knew better. That the taller brother in the suit was cunning and manipulative, making him far, far more dangerous than the one that carried a gun.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Karyn Lawrence is an author, graphic designer, and screenwriter. She published a nonfiction book about color guard after an editor discovered her blog, way back in the infancy of the Internet and long before blogging was really a thing.
She has been a screenwriter for more than fifteen years, with rather mild success, and grew tired of her stories only reaching a handful of readers. The decision was made to try fiction in early 2013 and once she figured out how to write internal dialogue again, the prose came fast and furious. She most enjoys writing smexy (smart-sexy) books featuring a lovable SOB hero and a tough-as-nails heroine.
Karyn is a Chicago native who lives in Kentucky with her epic husband and two adorable sons.
Karyn will be awarding a $25 gift card to Amazon, a signed paperback copy of both "Keep" and the first book in the stand-alone series, "Stay", bookmarks from "Stay" and a can kozie with the logo from the fictional beer company that the hero owns in "Keep" (Swag and print book are US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
The ebook HUNGER MOON is on sale for 99 cents
from December 8th to December 26th.
The Child Thief, Book #0 Loki's Wolves, is permafree with most retailers.
Battle Cry, Book #2 in Loki's Wolves, will be released Dec. 18th.
Victoria Storm faces seemingly insurmountable odds to keep her dwindling pack of werewolves alive and together. She fights hunters- including the brother and father of her deceased lover-and the pack takes another devastating loss. When they seek sanctuary in a small town near Lake Tahoe, high in the secluded Sierra Nevada Mountains, Victoria discovers they are infringing on the territory of a vastly more powerful Alpha wolf. To save her pack, she uses her feminine wiles to seduce the Alpha. Nothing comes easily for Victoria. Her plans are complicated by the Alpha's erratic son, a ghostly wife, and a vengeful witch. Not even her status as a Valkyrie or the favor of the Goddess Freya can change the course of destiny for Victoria or her pack mates.
Victoria felt him before she saw him. His power washed over her with the force of an incoming tide, as dark, mysterious and unstoppable as the ocean. Her wolf rose to answer his in instinctive response, defiant and determined. She challenged his power and altered the irresistible flow so it passed around rather than over her. Before she reached the office entrance, the male werewolf responded to her presence and surged to his feet. He rounded the desk, demonstrating extraordinary grace and strength, and she braced for a physical confrontation. He dwarfed her in both height and weight.
As soon as their gazes met, they locked in a dominance contest. His narrowed eyes pierced hers; the light-pigmented brown irises were the color of honey and eclipsed the whites and round black pupils. Wolf eyes.
Victoria did not approach with her head low or avert her gaze. Instead, she challenged him outright, radiating defiance, posture stiff and erect. While they faced off, she regretted the tactical error, but it was too late to rescind. Her stubborn pride permitted no retreat, and it went against her nature to submit.
"Let's take this outside where there are no humans to bear witness," he said in a deep, resonant voice she found appealing.
Aroused, her wolf took an immediate interest in him as a fine, fit male animal. For the first time, Victoria noticed his physical appearance, and her wolf found him more than acceptable. She estimated his age as being in his late thirties. He in no way suffered for the smattering of silver hairs that peppered his dark head. He was a perfect specimen of a man.
Distracted, Victoria broke eye contact, but not to submit. She ran her gaze over his body with blatant approval, lingering on his broad shoulders and chest, muscular arms and legs. He wore a tailored navy suit with a light shirt and dark blue tie. From the way his clothing fit, there was not an ounce of spare fat anywhere on him.
His features possessed splendid symmetry, though a silver scar on his right cheek marred his perfection. The shape of his brow, nose, and lower face hinted at a distant Roman heritage. High cheekbones alluded to his Nordic blood. He cleared his throat, and Victoria scented both his arousal and amusement.
"Did you come to challenge me, or do you have something else in mind?"
His devilish smile hinted at a sense of humor, and Victoria seized on the opening. A ballsy gamble carried inherent risk, but her initial inept blundering had left her with no other graceful out. Her eyes rose to meet his once again.
"I am Victoria, daughter of Adair and Katherine, High Priestess of Freya, Lady Valkyrie, shaman, and healer," she said, making her boast. "I am also the Alpha of my pack, and I am seeking a mate. I have come to assess whether you would make an acceptable suitor."
"You're kidding." He registered surprise and disbelief.
Victoria arched her brow. "I am not."
Fast Facts About Melissa Snark:
* Melissa Snark is published with The Wild Rose Press & as an Indie author with five unique titles.
* Her Loki's Wolves series includes THE CHILD THIEF, HUNGER MOON AND BATTLE CRY.
* She lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband, three children and a glaring of cats.
* She blogs about books and writing on TheSnarkology.com.
Email: melissasnark at gmail.com
Amazon Author Page
I asked today’s guest, Emelle Gamble, to share her research into the film industry with us. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that some of it isn’t research – it’s experience.
Emelle Gamble on Writing About an Actress
Molly Harper is an academy award winning actress and the star character in three of my books, DUETS, MOLLY HARPER, and the final installation, DECEMBER WEDDING.
She works her butt off, is professional, beautiful, talented, successful and, when you meet her in DUETS, at the point in her life where she is wrestling with THE BIG QUESTION woman of all professions grapple with, can I have it all?
I think actresses are in a weirdly different category than the rest of us in that they are wealthier than most, and have almost no privacy when they are at the achievement level of this character. Interesting trade-off for a writer to consider…particularly as fame and fortune and loss of ‘ordinariness’ do not really change the yearnings, wants and needs, and shortcomings that any human being has.
I grew up in Los Angeles. I knew several actors, dated a couple and for the first two years of college I majored in drama and hoped to be a professional. (I did a play with Anson Williams - Potsie of Happy Days. HA! I was Joan of Arc! No, ‘the Fonz’ did not save me.)
I also worked in a non-entertainment job where my clients were studio people. (I once worked overtime one Friday night to get some equipment of my company’s moved so Clint Eastwood’s stuntman wouldn’t kill himself running into it on the streets of San Francisco. Clint’s people sent me $200 of roses the next day to thank me. Yes, a highpoint. He also sent me an autographed photo, which I have in my office.) So I felt like I understood not only some of the nuts and bolts of movie-making, but also the psyche of an actor.
Most actors I know, like Molly Harper, have something painful in their backgrounds. She has a huge secret she’s been keeping from everyone, and it changed her forever. So she took that pain and turned it into creative expression in her work. I know a lot of writer’s who do this too…art and hurt seem to often go together.
It was very fulfilling for me to write about Molly Harper, actress, daughter and secret keeper. A lot of her personal life I also knew a lot about first hand. Family secrets. Good and bad love affairs and choices.
And yes, I too fell in love with a dark haired hot guy and it was complicated, but I got my HEA.
I hope you’ll get to know Molly Harper and Cruz Morales, and their families and friends. Let me know what you think if you do…I love getting reader email at email@example.com. Or visit my website at www.EmelleGamble.com. There’s always something fun going on over there…
Thank you Marlow Kelly for hosting me!
Available on Amazon
Molly Harper is a movie star who fans think ‘has it all’. Cruz Morales is Molly’s true love, and he hates the media intrusions into their life. Molly and Cruz are going to have a baby. And throw a secret wedding for her brother Harry. What could go wrong? Read DECEMBER WEDDING, the sequel to DUETS and MOLLY HARPER, and find out if there really is a happy ever after for Molly and Cruz.
Molly Harper lay beside Cruz Morales in the darkened bedroom, finally drowsy as the familiar night sounds floated in on the Santa Barbara breezes. She was on her second set of counting backwards from 100 to fall asleep, forty-two, forty-one…
“Will you marry me, Molly?” Cruz asked, his voice husky and close.
“No.” She’d said no to him a hundred times the last year. He told her last Christmas Eve he was going to ask her the last thing every night for a year before he’d give up. Saying no had been easy. Though meaning it was getting a little more difficult.
“You know why not. I love you too much to subject you to a wedding.”
Cruz sighed. “Lame reason, chica. No one I know would think that’s a good reason.”
“They would if they remembered I’m an actress whose life attracts the press like a tub of honey attracts bees. And bees sting. You know what a zoo our wedding would turn out to be.”
“Not if we got married at the courthouse in Taos, or at your home there. People can get hitched the same day they get the license in New Mexico. I checked. We could keep it a secret.”
“A secret? You know that’s impossible. Someone at the courthouse would tell their friend, who would call the newspaper or People Magazine or tweet it to thirty thousand of their closest friends.”
“Are you sure we’re still interesting to other people? I think the gossip about us has cooled down. People seem more interested in royal babies and the Jolie-Pitt clan now.”
“That’s true. There were only two camera crews outside the restaurant where we ate last Friday.” Molly’s brain reran a few snippets of the last two years, all recorded and available on the internet. Cruz struggling to recover from the motorcycle accident that nearly killed him. Her movie star husband leaving her for another woman. Her ex and the other woman having a baby.
All events which were played out on the front page of newspapers and websites around the world.
“Please? I’ll put a ring on it tomorrow if you say yes.”
Molly took a rattling breath. Tonight’s discussion was quite a bit more protracted than the three hundred plus nights before. “No, thank you. I don’t need you to do anything more to prove you love me.”
In the midnight shadows, his generous mouth softened against the hard curves of his face. “I do love you. I’ve always loved you. Every single moment since I met you. Even when we were apart.”
“Did you, Cruz? Did you really even love me then?”
He touched her nose with his finger and cleared his throat, which he always did when he recited a favorite poem.
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)”
Molly’s eyes burned. “I melt when you recite love poetry, Professor Cruz. I hope you don’t do in class; all those cute girls will be trying to jump your bones.”
“I only recite for you, chica. I read e.e. cummings when I was recovering in the hospital. He brought you back to me.”
“Oh please,” she whispered. “Let’s not talk about those terrible times.”
“Why? They don’t matter now, they hardly mattered then. Once we got back together, I mean, the past was gone.”
“The past is never gone. It’s on Facebook and Entertainment Tonight.”
“No one looks at those things.
That made her laugh, as he had hoped it would.
“Right. No one.” Molly embraced him, the sheets silky smooth, while Cruz was warm and hard, and then rolled onto her other side.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Emelle Gamble Bio : Emelle Gamble became a writer at an early age. As ‘M.L. Gamble,’ she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin Intrigue. She is now self-publishing and also working with Soul Mate Publishing who have released two romantic women’s fiction novels, Secret Sister, in July of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, an April 2014 release.
Always intrigued by the words ‘what if’, Gamble’s books feature an ordinary woman confronted with an extraordinary situation. Emelle celebrates the adventurous spirit of readers, and hopes each will enjoy the exciting and surprising journeys her characters take.
Emelle welcomes any reader interested in emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org and hopes they will visit her website, www.EmelleGamble.com , her FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/Emelle.Gamble or follow her on Twitter @EmelleGamble.
Emelle will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC plus a digital copy of December Wedding to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour and the Review Tour.
I asked Mindy to share something from her writing journey with us. She has graciously revealed her moving and emotional story. I hope it touches you as much as it did me.
PTSD, The Korean War, and Manzanita Oregon
By Mindy Halleck
My father, a decorated Korean War Vet, haunted by the war, once said, “Korea is the war that never was called war, never started and never ended. It’ll come back to haunt.” His concerns over Korea have come to fruition. This makes Korea a contemporary concern in all our lives, tapping into the zeitgeist of era gone by, now returned.
In Return To Sender (RTS) the main protagonist is based, in part, on my father who suffered with PTSD and who lived the rest of his days trying to forget war and remember who he was before Korea. The theme of redemption resonates deeply because it was what he longed for but never found. He turned to religion but felt only judged, and so turned to nature, which is when we discovered Manzanita Oregon; the setting for RTS. But then he turned to alcoholism to numb his pain. Consequently our lives spiraled out of control. His thirst to be heard, understood, and to understand the war he’d experienced went unquenched.
My family vacationed in Manzanita in the 1950s and 60’s, and I knew the place and its people well. Dad was one of the hopeful treasure hunters who honeycombed Neahkahnie Mountain in search of the rumored, elusive Spanish Pirate’s Treasure that, to date, nobody has ever discovered. Manzanita was the only place he felt at peace. When you read the story you’ll see I’ve written in all these components in this adoring daughter’s attempt to write a happy ending for a father who never found one.
1955 ~ Father Theo Riley never wanted to be a priest, nor a killer. The former boxing champion and Korean War veteran gave up more than a career when he went into the Army. He lost the only thing he ever wanted: his love, Andréa Bouvre. Friends thought Theo entered the priesthood to mend his broken heart or atone for the massacred orphans he couldn’t save in Korea.
However, the truth is much darker and more damning, tied to a blood debt and family secret that has haunted Theo since he was a boy. He drinks to forget he ever had a life of his own—waits for death, prays for mercy, and hopes for a miracle. He gets all three when a child goes missing, another shows up on his doorstep, and the love of his life drives back into his world; the seaside hamlet of Manzanita Oregon.
Theo’s dream reunion with Andréa becomes a nightmare when a serial killer who considers himself a holy man targets the town and everyone Theo loves. Drinking days decidedly behind him, Theo and some old warriors set out to send evil back to hell and a few good souls to heaven in RETURN TO SENDER.
POV of protagonist, Theo Riley;
All night I listened for cars, footsteps, noises that didn’t belong. All night, every sound reminded me of Korea’s Karst Caves: sounds, smells, threats hidden in every echo. I tried to recall in which letter I wrote to Andréa about the noisy bats. Was it October ’52, or later?
The children had been terrified of the Daubenton bats that built colonies inside the caves. At night, the scratching sounds and flapping wings was as threatening to them as the sound of footsteps and the CCF running up on us at night was to me. The nun told them the bats were good luck, there to protect us, that they stayed awake at night to keep watch.
The oldest boy, Hai-bin, was the first to call me “Teo.” He rolled his eyes back in his head when the nun said that. In any other world, he’d have been a budding teenager full of angst and attitude, not an undernourished warrior ready to fight, ready to die, not old enough to understand the meaning of either. Not old enough to understand any of Korea’s madness. But then, who was?
As the days, nights, and weeks had gone on, those brave orphans folded the strange noises from the waking Daubenton bats into that place where they carried the heavy, heavy burden of acceptance—they slept through the night with those mysterious guardians taking flight above them. They slept. It became part of their new existence. An existence brittle and rickety as the bamboo bridges that sooner or later would lead us back to a world ablaze outside those caves.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Mindy Halleck is a Pacific Northwest author, blogger and writing instructor. Her short story, The Sound of Rain, which placed in the Writer’s Digest Literary Contest blossomed into her first novel Return to Sender. Halleck blogs at Literary Liaisons and is an active member of the Pacific Northwest writing community. In addition to being a writer, Halleck is a happily married, globe-trotting beachcomber, antiquer, gardener, proud grandma, and three-time cancer survivor. www.MindyHalleck.com
Mindy’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mindy-Sitton-Halleck/e/B004W4LK90/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/+MindyHalleck/posts
Mindy Halleck will be awarding a $100 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Available 15th December at
The Wild Rose Press.
The Wild Rose Press has Kindle and Nook formats available for your convenience
After years of financial struggle, Leath Robson and her brother are ecstatic when they're willed a property in northern New Zealand. It brings highly sought after security. But Leath struggles with guilt when she discovers their benefactor spent her last years alone in a nursing home. Who was this mystery woman? And why is there suddenly a large offer for the property? Kirk Buchanan left the family farm years ago to find his own way. Summoned home, he's devastated to find his father suffering from Alzheimer's. Hearing his dad often visits his childhood home, Kirk resolves to purchase it, wanting to give his dad some measure of comfort. He doesn't expect the new owners to turn down his generous offer. Nor does he expect to be attracted to the fiery Leath. As Leath encounters Kirk time and again, her initial distrust slowly changes into a far deeper feeling. Despite this, her focus is on finding who left her and Rob the land. Kirk realizes that maybe who owns the property isn't as important as matters of the heart. Will these parallel journeys bring them together or tear them apart?
“What do you want?” he demanded. “Name your price and I’ll match it.”
Her eyes boggled and her eyebrows rose. Was he serious? Yes, it appeared he was, from the way he waved an agitated arm around.
“Come on. Name it,” he snapped. “Everyone has their price. What’s yours?” His Machiavellian smirk conveyed his certainty.
Frowning, Leath stared up at him. “You mean if we asked for, what, ten million dollars, you’d give it to us?” She shook her head. “You’re crazy.”
She didn’t believe for a moment he’d seriously consider that sort of amount and gasped when he replied almost immediately.
“That’s your price, ten million?”
“No, Mr. Buchanan, that’s not our price!” Leath feared he might reach for his cheque book. “That was just a stupid figure plucked out of the air. We’ve already given you our answer, twice.”
Seeing a very slight slump in his shoulders and something odd in his expression, Leath softened the blow. “I’m sorry if you’re disappointed.” She even smiled up at him, “but it’s not going to change. We like the place.”
“But you have to sell it to me!”
Stepping back at the ferociousness in his voice, Leath bit her lip.
“I have to have it.”
His apparent desperation caused a sympathetic response from her. “I’m sorry.” She felt compelled to soften her voice. “We’re not selling.”
“But you must.” He stretched out and would have grabbed her arms if she hadn’t stepped back once more. “It’s ours and I mean to have it back.”
Anne Ashby grew up in a very small coastal town in Southland, New Zealand. An eagerness to travel, fostered by her mother, led her to join the Royal NZ Navy where she enjoyed a very satisfying career. She has travelled extensively and lived in Singapore and Maryland USA. Anne's contemporary stories are set in New Zealand or have New Zealand characters and bring something of her beautiful country to romance readers everywhere. Anne has a keen interest in genealogy, an obsession for rugby and a definite dislike of housework. When not reading or writing, Anne finds plenty to occupy her time with her family and her role as the National President of the Royal NZ Naval Women's Association. She currently lives in Auckland with her husband and one of their four children with four grandchildren living close by.