Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

And hello 2013!

Like 2012, we're headed into 2013 with a mix of good news and bad news. The good news, we have a new baby in the house. We're the proud puppy parents of a 6-1/2 week old yellow lab boy. We've named him Neo. And he is sooo cute! And warm, and soft and cuddly! And chewy, and not yet housebroken, but we're working on it! He's a smart boy, so I'm pretty sure we'll get this down soon.

My two boys. The furry one is Neo.
On the downside, we were awakened at 4:30 this morning with a phone call that my husband's step-mother had fallen. His father was calling the paramedics and hubs dressed and met them at the hospital, along with two of his step-brothers. Pelvis broken in two spots, otherwise she's doing okay for being 84 with Alzheimer's. It's doubtful she'll ever go back to their two story house (main floor upstairs). Maybe a week in the hospital and then off to extended care. 

Aging parents are the norm for us these days. Just got the kid raised up to where he's 98% on his own two feet (he's 21, in his last year of college, and looking at grad schools for next year). But this is life. New babies and aging adults. We deal.

Here's wishing you all the best for 2013. May it be better than 2012 and bring with it peace and prosperity for all. A pretty tall order, but I keep hoping!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

VBT: Author Chris Karlsen

Journey in Time
by Chris Karlsen




London attorney, Shakira Constantine, finally agrees to spend the day with her handsome client, Alex Lancaster. While riding in the countryside, the couple finds themselves caught in a time warp and transported back to the 14th century, and an England preparing for war. Everyone believes Alex is the Baron Guy Guiscard...a baron who died in the upcoming battle.

If they can’t discover a way to return to the 21st century, Alex will have to sail with the army to certain death. Shakira will be left alone to survive in the alien and terrifying medieval world.



Nothing made sense. Whether it was a crazy university project, a period movie, or re-enactors too into their roles, she didn’t care. This was not the weekend she envisioned. She wanted to leave. The atmosphere, the people, and the looks they gave her made her uneasy. She didn’t know what was going on with Alex. Why did he know everyone? Why had his manner suddenly grown so stiff and imperious? What about this place made it so dangerous for them?

She had enough.

Alex must’ve sensed her anxiety. He interrupted his conversation and was at her side in a matter of seconds.

 “I’ll help you dismount.” He took the reins from her firm grip and lifted her down to the ground. “Come.” He offered his arm and tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow.

 “No.” Shakira refused to move. “I want to go home.”

He looked ill, green around the gills, like he was seasick.

“You can’t.”

 AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.

My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream.

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse. 

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Autumn, Grab a Sump Pump

Summer is long gone. There's snow on the mountain tops, the trees have been changing color for weeks and many are nearly bare of their leaves. Alaska has been battered by storm after storm after storm and many communities are dealing with floods. Homes have been washed away, flooded, roads have become rivers before being swept away, and even the railroad has a stretch of track hovering in mid air, its supporting soil and gravel washed out from underneath.

It's enough to slightly dent the intrepid Alaskan spirit.

In these clouds of rain there's a silver lining that the hurricane force gusts of winds can't blast away. Everyone is safe. No deaths have been reported due to the high water or falling trees, although there have been several accidents recently.

And yet, here we remain. An earthquake or two didn't set us back, so a few storm clouds won't either.

Now, I admit, I'm sitting pretty and cozy in my new house. No power outages, no flooding, no downed trees. I do have a camp robber carelessly tossing about the seeds I put out. He's too small to eat, so I may let him have his fun for a while longer.

But I'm watching the news, especially for Talkeetna, one of those communities pumping out the flood waters. In a weird stroke of irony, at the beginning of September, my alter ego, Morgan Q. O'Reilly had a new release. Weathering the Storm, Book Three of the Open Windows series featuring those red headed Shaughnessys, is set in Talkeetna, Alaska. During which, there's of course, a big storm.

In no way did I predict the catastrophe actually taking place. In fact, my story is rather mild in the face of the recent devastation that got the governor to declare it a disaster. With luck, that will open up some Federal money to help with cleanup and repair. Rebuilding where necessary.

In the coming weeks we'll get a deeper analysis. I know that this weekend was to have been the Talkeetna Book Festival to benefit the library. I wonder just how damaged the library and the elementary school are, but when people are being advised to boil their tap water and their homes are a foot deep in water, the library is way down the priority list. The school is, of course, higher on the list, but after clean water I'm guessing.

I did hear a report of one Walmart donating food and toiletries for those evacuated to various locations. I'm sure there are a lot of untold stories right now and in the coming days they'll start filtering through FB and the news sources. If you want to help, The American Red Cross is working with flood victims and will happily take donations. Cash donations are especially welcome to help buy the specific items needed. The link goes to the Alaska organization.

Or, buy a copy of Weathering the Storm and I'll donate the royalties to the Red Cross and/or whatever fund is set up to help the individual communities. Buy the book directly from my publisher this month, September 2012, and I'll be able to make the donation in mid-October.  I'll post the total results here and over at The Morgan Diaries Blog when I get next month's statement.

Let me be perfectly clear:
Purchase a copy of Weathering the Storm between now and the end of this month, and next month the royalties will go to help the communities affected by the recent flooding. Ah, what the heck, same for any sales of this book made now through the end of the year, whether through Lyrical Press, Amazon, Nook or any other outlet. I'll make monthly reports of the totals, good or bad.  I'll be totally embarrassed if my royalties drop to $10. $100 would be better, $1000 would totally floor me and actually do some major good. Anything beyond that and I'll probably faint after I put the check in the mail.

Help me spread the word. You'll be getting a darn good read, and those picking up the threads of their lives after devastating floods will get a little more help. It's a win-win situation.

Happy reading!
Shea McMaster/Morgan Q. O'Reilly

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Fourth! It's a Hot Time in the Kitchen

Cooking seems to be the theme lately. I've spent a goodly portion of my day in the kitchen, baking, baking, baking! The only break I've had was to pack a box, jump in the shower, then dash over to Mom's house to have a midday celebration with SIL, nephew (eldest brother's #2 child), his wife and adorable little girl. At 20 months, she sure is a doll.

My contribution to the feast included a loaf of No-Knead Bread, and a platter of Naan.

Once home again, I made up a batch of Oatmeal Muffins that the guys take for work day breakfasts, and in the oven this very minute is a loaf of Banana Bread.

Below is my version of the Oatmeal Muffins because I took the recipe posted above, and made a few variations. You can look at their pretty pictures. Mine pictures didn't turn out as nice, but the idea is the same.

Individual Oatmeal Cups

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce, unsweetened
  • 6 packets of Sweetleaf Stevia or 1 1/2 teaspoons stevia powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 5 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries 
  • 2 3/4 cups milk (I used 1% Lactose Free)
  • Optional toppings: raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips - I've used chocolate chips and combo of blueberries, but the guys tell me the like the pecan/blueberry combo best and since those are mixed in, no need for additional toppings.
1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.   In a medium sized bowl mash banana, then add eggs, vanilla, applesauce, and Stevia and mix together.
3.   In a large bowl combine oats, salt, baking powder, flax, cinnamon, nuts and frozen berries, then add wet ingredients. Mix well.
4.   Finally pour in milk and combine.
5.   Spray 2 Extra Large (6 half cup) capacity muffin tins with cooking spray or use cupcake liners. Pour mixture evenly into muffin tin cups. About half cup each.
6.   If using toppings add them onto the tops of muffins now.
7.   Bake 45 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool and enjoy or freeze them in Ziploc bags. If using the smaller cupcake pans, bake 30 minutes.

We did a calculation and my husband determined one muffin counts as 10 or 11 points on his WW program. By using cupcake pans, figure about 5-6 points per muffin.

Additional Notes:
  • Use a half cup to one cup of honey in place of stevia if you don’t have any. I've also used Truvia.
  • The batter will look RUNNY, don’t worry!
  • Freeze them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag after they have cooled. Thaw overnight in refrigerator for morning you want them.
  • Reheat 45-60 seconds in microwave.
  • Adding cream or milk over the top after warmed is very yummy!
  • If you are gluten free, make sure you are using certified gluten free oats and baking powder.
  • If you don’t have the stevia packets or powder only liquid, here’s the conversion chart.
Son just came up the stairs saying, "In the back of your car -- what is that delicious smell? Banana bread? Wow!"  So I'm guessing that's a win! Oh, and what's in my car? Trash to take to the transfer station as we clean out in preparation of the great move... oh yeah. Fun times.

Happy Independence Day to you and your families!!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Yummy in the Tummy

Because I want to preserve this recipe, I'm posting it here. I found this recipe here, but it's very, very close to my memory of one my mom has made for years. And this way I get to post a picture that Pinterest will take for pinning. Another level of storage!

I generally double this recipe.

Curried Beef with Onion

  • 1/2 lb beef, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (Optional I did not use it)
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup water (oops, forgot the water and the salt this time)
  • 2 onions, cut into strips (I use sweet onions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Marinate beef in soy sauce, curry, sesame oil, cornstarch and sugar a minimum of 30 minutes. An hour or more is better
  2. Heat 2 Tblsp. oil in frying pan until hot.
  3. Add onions; stir-fry until light brown; remove from pan; set aside.
  4. Heat 2 more Tblsp. oil in frying pan until hot.
  5. Stir-fry meat mixture for 3 minutes.
  6. Add onions and water.
  7. Stir-fry 2 minutes more.
  8. Serve hot. I prefer to serve over rice.

Curried Beef with Onion on the stove top. Tastes even better than it looks!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Shenanigans

Big things are happening in the land of Shea! Alaska is doing the usual weather dance, a few days of intense sun followed by days of clouds and rain. The balance keeps us on our toes, one day cool, one day too hot. We work like mad on the sunny days and rest up on the cloudy ones.

What I hope will be my new backyard soon! Note that gorgeous blue sky!
Alaskan summer at its very best.
To this end, I'm beginning the long process of packing. Yes, the McMaster (O'Reilly) family is moving! After seven years renting a fairly nice house we're moving on up to a house with a bigger garage for my woodworker spouse. There are many bonuses to this move, although it will be some time before we can upgrade the hand-me-down / garage sale bargain furniture we've collected in recent years. We're looking forward to more space, quieter neighborhood, big kitchen, cozy writing room, decadent tub in the master bath, to name a few benefits!
We're excited and can hardly wait for the closing which is scheduled for later next month. Fingers crossed nothing trips that up!

In the meantime, I'm participating in the Summer Reading Trail organized by Voirey Linger. So many good books to peruse! This month, for a few more days, read the first chapter of Rachel Dahlrumple. Next month, read the first chapter of Six Foot Hero, which is winding down its contract with Lyrical Press. Be sure to grab a copy while it's on sale for 99 cents!

How's your summer going? Anything extra exciting happening?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spring Sprucing

For the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, summer is underway. Here in Alaska, aka the Frozen North, we're just now blasting through spring and moving fast into summer. The last two weeks have seen barren trees and bushes suddenly exploding with pretty new green leaves that look wonderful against the bright blue sky.

It's been a tough year so far. Seems like every other week I've come down with the latest cold/crud. Last week was no exception. But I'm fighting back! Yes, I'm throwing open the windows and letting fresh air blow through the house. Clearing out winter's cobwebs. Revitalizing my mind and my life. Summer is short, so it's time to dig in and get to enjoying it.

Part of summer fun is reading. I have a huge stack of books that's been growing on my side table and on my various forms of ereaders. I'm very much looking forward to time to kick back with a cold drink on my warm balcony and reading my way through the long, long summer evenings. Just less than a month to Summer Solstice, ya know.

And since I know many folks are also stocking up on summer reading, I'd like to direct your attention the right hand side-bar (right at the very top) where there are a few extra pages to this blog. First up is a Featured Read, the entire chapter one of Rachel Dahlrumple. In a few weeks I'll change this out for the other two books with pages, Six Foot Hero, and Borealis II: A Space Anthology. In the anthology, my contribution is Bleu Lies, a furturistic romp on an aging space station where deceit and desire wreak havoc with the station commander's organized life.

If you still need more suggestions, be sure to stop by The Morgan Diaries where you'll find excerpts and information on books by J. Morgan (Jmo) and my alter-ego, Morgan Q. O'Reilly (MorganO).

I'd love to hear what's on your TBR pile for the summer. What are you in the mood for? What's a favorite summer time activity? I'm all ears, so dish!


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Virtual Book Tour - Dianne Venetta - Lust On The Rocks

Please extend a big welcome to Dianne Venetta, today's VBT Guest Author. Since I'm deep in writing these days I couldn't come up with any interesting interview questions. So, I left the field wide open. Any topic of her choice. For those of us buried under mounds of snow and dreaming of summer, Dianne is treating us to a taste of summer in the garden. After that, there's some fun reading with excerpts from her book, Lust On The Rocks. Be sure to leave a comment below!

Thanks for having me today and I have a question:  “How many gardeners out there do we have?”  Few, many, organic, non-organic, just trying not to kill the dang thing?  I’m a gardener, but I’m no expert.  I’m a mom who thought gardening would be a good idea, a way to engage the whole family, you know?  Problem:  I didn’t have the first clue how to begin.  Thank goodness I have green-thumbed neighbors! Taught me everything I know.

Okay, that’s a lie.  While it’s true they got me started, I’m a trial and error kind of gal at heart with an over-active imagination—which works great for writing books, but gardening?  Not so much.  Not when you forget to water, have kids that mutiny on a regular basis, can’t identify beneficials (good bugs) and start removing them from your garden at alarming rates because you think they’re out to get you (too much sci-fi, I know).  However, the experience has provided enough fodder for a garden blog and now I help other well-intentioned folks like myself get started with their own garden.  Kids, too!

But an over-active imagination can be fun in the garden—when it turns to men and women and relationships, that is.  Have you ever considered the similarities between your man and say, a vegetable?  How about a fruit?  Okay, that one may not be a stretch.  I happen to know a lot of “fruits” and most of them fun!  But seriously, if your man were a vegetable, which one would he be?  I have a few suggestions for you:

Carrots – Bred from firm and solid fiber, these men are steady and strong and always there for you.  Given proper attention, they can also become quite sweet in nature; a true hidden treasure, if ever there was one.  They do need some elbow room, exhibit a bit of thinning at times, but if you’re willing to work for it, this one’s a keeper!

Tomatoes – This popular guy is an all around favorite with the ladies, most drawn to his bright and cheery appearance and radiant personality.  A real reliable kind of guy, sweet with a hint of tang, meaty and quite robust—he comes in all sizes.  Yes, this one is tempting.  Be sure you’re in for the commitment—he’s going to need it if you expect him to produce

Okra – Strong, of firm build, this one likes it hot and enjoys it spicy—very at home in the Big Easy, too.  Generally speaking, he blends well with others, can plant himself anywhere, but caution:  he can be seedy, even a bit slimy at times.

Potatoes – These fellas are generous producers, enjoyed by most everyone as they appeal to a variety of tastes.  They can get easily crowded, though, so give them plenty of space.  If you do, you’ll have yourself a real winner with this one.  Note:  be patient with the sweeter types—they need a little more time before they’re ready to hit the dinner-date table.  But if you can wait, go for it.  You’ll reap the gold with this gem!

Don’t see your guy here?  No worries.  I’ll share the rest with you come Valentine’s Day over at my blog!

Just goes to show you that gardening doesn’t have to be all “weed and feed.”  It can actually be quite fun!  At least it will provide a great source of distraction if your mind tends to wander like mine.  And if you’re not a gardener, consider becoming one!  The satisfaction I gain through producing the food on my dinner table is rewarding, indeed—especially the compliments:

“Wow, would you look at the size of that tomato!”

“These potatoes taste like butter!”

“This onion is so sweet—and no tears!”

“Is that a squash or a pumpkin?”

Okay, disregard the last one.  Case of hybrid squash stemming from an unknown origin; seems the plants had a mutiny of their own!

But I’ll bet some of you gardeners out there have similar stories to share.  Care to spill the beans?

Dianne Venetta 

Book blurb:
She has what he needs, and he won't stop until he gets it.  Trouble is, what begins as a matter of death, becomes a matter of life.

One case away from partnership, Samantha Rawlings is forced to share her high-profile case with a sexy younger man, whose eyes are on a different prize.  In the best interests of her client, Sam opens the door to his strategy.  Turns out, a little too far...

Victor Marin has ulterior motives.  The defendant in her case holds the key to his revenge, and his last chance for justice.  But as he chases old demons, he uncovers a powerful woman with no inhibitions, one he wants to possess for himself.  But decidedly single, Sam wants no part.

Until Vic walks away.

Excerpts From Lust On The Rocks:

“You did well today, Vic.  You didn’t win your argument, your performance was a little overpowering, but you did well.”  She slid a hand across the table.  He would have sworn she was about to touch his, but instead, her fingers curled around the stem of her water glass.  “Chavez was out of line.  It’s his MO.  Whenever there’s a new attorney in his courtroom, he parades power like a peacock.  Don’t take it personal.”
No longer sparring, Vic noted her removal of armor.
“You’re good.  Really good.  You have phenomenal energy in the courtroom—I mean you had the jury.”  A smile crept onto her lips, a gesture which reached deep inside him.  “I was watching.  Each and every one of them followed you around that courtroom, your every move, your every word, they were right there with you.  They didn’t believe her either.”
“Then why won’t you include me on Perry?”
Sam’s breath caught in her throat.  Trapped beneath his gaze, the question echoed Raul’s.  Around her, the noise level rose as lunch hour officially reached full sprint.  People shouted orders, metal cash registers clanged in action, but she focused solely on Vic.
Her suspicion returned.  Because I don’t need any help.  Because I don’t want the distraction.  Because I’ll be damned if some unknown hotshot comes in and tries to strip the prize from my hands regardless of how good, or how good-looking he is.
Sam’s spine locked straight.  All her life she had to work twice as hard, run twice as fast—because she was a woman.  As an adolescent, her parents forced her to share an overload of responsibility for the care of five younger siblings, despite the fact her brother was scarcely a year behind her.  In college she was offered more dates than internships with law school providing more of the same.
Sam sighed.  Baker, Schofield, Martinez and Brown had been the one interview where she felt wholly respected—wholly appreciated for her talent and not her looks.  Because of Raul.  He focused on her abilities and she responded.  From there, the man taught her everything she knew, from the law to the lowdown, and groomed her into the legal shark she was proud to be.
Her thoughts chilled.  Yet now, he was encouraging interference on her caseload from the new guy.  It didn’t make sense.
Sam honed in on Vic.  “Give me one good reason I should include you on Perry.”
“You said it yourself, I’m good.”
“So am I.”
“It’s a big case.  More than one attorney can handle.”
“I have Diego.”
“I have experience.”
“So I hear.”  Sam lifted her glass from the table, but never took her eyes off him.
“It could work to your benefit.”
“I work to my benefit.”
Vic eased his neck from his collar and reached for his glass.  “I’m offering to help, Sam.  Most attorneys would jump at the opportunity.”
“If you hadn’t gathered by now, I’m not most attorneys.” 


“My father is a prominent attorney.”
Sam gave an expectant lift to her shoulders.  “And?”
“And, what?  He’s a good guy.”  Depressed, angry…  Vic sighed.  But a good man at heart.
“What do they think of you moving to Miami?”
Something inside him hardened.  “They’re very supportive of what I do.”
She nodded, as though it were obvious.  “They want you to be happy.”
Vic felt the old pressure swell in his gut.  “Something like that.”  He sipped from his drink, coating his ache with a soothing measure of gin.
“Family is important,” Sam said, with what sounded like genuine admiration.  “Particularly the dedicated kind.”
He paused, and held onto the softness that entered her voice.  “If you feel that way, why aren’t you married?”
“Why aren’t you?”
“Asked you first.  The way you said it, sounded like you have some experience in the department.”
“I do.  Loads of it.”  She shook long bangs from her well-shaped brow and said, “I come from a family of six kids.”
Six kids?”
“Six.  And I, being the oldest, had to help raise the little beasts—I mean, dearies.”  She smiled sweet as syrup.  “And mind you, I love every one of them, but I don’t want to repeat history.”  She mimicked a shudder and fiddled with her drink’s red plastic sword.  “I’ve had my fill in the child-rearing department, thank you very much, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the commitment my parents made to keep it together.”
Oblivious now to the parade of passersby, Vic felt a strange wave of disappointment.  “What, you don’t want kids?”
“I have kids,” she asserted.  “My brothers and sisters have several between them who I enjoy very much, but as for myself I’ve chosen a different path.”
Vic nodded, but said nothing.  He was calculating the new information, turning it over in his mind, deciding what it meant and how he felt about it.
And it’s reflection on her.
“So Vic, you still haven’t explained why you chose Miami.”
He welcomed the shift in tide.  Talk of marriage and children was starting to depress him.  “I’m looking to add a little ‘sunshine’ to my life and this seemed just the place.”
Sam dipped into her martini, the fiery gleam in her eyes magnetic, her smile reflecting the earlier reference.  Inciting desire, it pulled him in, all without revealing her first thought.
“Yes, well, sounds to me like you had a vested opportunity in your father’s firm.  Why cross the country and start over?”
“I wanted a change in scenery.  While I’m young,” he added, with measured thrust.
Sam smiled, intrigued, but let the subject go.
While she had yet to decipher the reason for Vic’s move, and Raul’s insistence on acting as his cheerleader, she knew men didn’t usually uproot their careers and move halfway across the country, particularly when their father was a well-connected attorney in town and their academics were spotless.
Unless there was a problem.


“It’s nice out here, isn’t it?”
The light breeze tossed hair into her face as she looked at him.  “One of my favorite places to be.”  The feel and sound of crashing waves reminded her of life’s ebb and flow, the powerful force of nature, the calming sense of continuity.  Sam loved the ocean, from the deep dark depths to the slide of incoming tides across a shore littered with shells.
Vic kept his pace slow.  Jean pant legs rolled up, he carried his loafers in one hand, allowing the other to occasionally bump with hers.  “Why aren’t you tied down yet, Sam?  Seems to me, a woman like you would have men lining up with proposals.”
She chuckled at his compliment.  “I don’t want to be tied down.”
“Ever?  You mean to tell me you never met a guy who did it for you?”
“Did it for me?” she repeated, amused by his choice of words.  But she knew what he meant and relaxed into a laugh.  “I’ve met a lot of men who have done it for me, as you so neatly put, but I choose to be single.”
“Why?  Someone hurt you?”
“No.”  Other than my family.  Being forced to care for five little kids when you were scarcely one yourself wasn’t so great.  But life did that to you.  It put you in situations and forced you to deal—which she did.  But that was behind her now and she didn’t intend to go back.  Ever.
“You don’t want kids?  Is that it?”
“Let’s say I had an overexposure at a young age, caring for my brothers and sisters and I’m cleansed of any desire to have my own.  What about you?”
“What about me.”
“Siblings, nieces, nephews...”
“None,” he said, and Sam almost tripped over the soft quality of his voice.
“Must be strange.”  When he didn’t reply, she said, “I’m sorry, that didn’t come out right.”
He looked at her and said, “Don’t worry about it.  No big deal.”
But the vulnerability in his eyes unraveled her heart.  Had he been hurt?  Was that the reason behind his distinct change in demeanor, the wall that slid between them?
This was usually easy territory for a man.  Unless there was a problem, rang the sentiment again.  “Ever thought about marriage and kids for yourself?”
“Maybe someday.”
“I’m focused on my career, but later, when I’m ready to settle down...”  The thought fell away.  “Who knows?”
“They’re a lot of work,” Sam tried to make light, willing the ease to return.
“But the connection is worth it.”
She turned to him and he stopped.  In the distance, the sound of partygoers blended with the thumping base of music drifting far and wide.  Behind them, a large wave crashed.  Racing up the shore, it submerged them ankle deep, then glided across the wide expanse of sand as it made its retreat to the ocean.  Something changed.  The hairs on the back of her neck stood amidst goose bumps prickling her flesh.  Vic’s gaze cut through the gentle evening light as he touched her hair, ceasing its lash across her cheekbones.  Her pulse quickened.
“I had a nice time.”
“Me, too,” she uttered, her breathing reduced to wisps.
“I’m glad we’re working together.”
She could only nod, suspended by what came next.

Author bio:

Dianne lives in Central Florida with her husband, two children and part-time Yellow Lab--Cody-body!  When not whacking away at her keyboard crafting her next novel you'll find her in their organic garden chasing grasshoppers and plucking hornworms all while drawing wild analogies between kids and plants and men.  Definitely men.

A girl's gotta have fun, right?

When she's not knee-deep in dirt or romance, Dianne contributes garden advice for various websites and volunteers in her kids' school garden (a crazy existence to be sure). But at the end of the day, if she can inspire someone to stop and smell the roses--or rosemary!—kiss their child and spouse good-night, be kind to a neighbor and Mother Earth, then she's done all right. - garden blog

You can find Lust On the Rocks at Amazon

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Hello February!

Or in other words, where the heck did January go?? 

Okay, so not to worry. We move onward and upward! To that end, I've got some great stuff happening. Tomorrow, Guest Author Dianne Venetta and a blog about gardening and her book, Lust On The Rocks.

Next Monday, (Feb 6) Morgan's second book in the Open Windows series -- Courage to Live -- releases! If you read Til Death Undo Us, you met Cay, the sexy AF pilot just before he's transferred to Alaska. Courage to Live is  his story and the woman who takes him down. Hot stuff!

Then the following weekend, starting Friday, Feb 10, check out the Just Romance Me three day Valentine's blog hop.  Click on the link below to get a reminder email when the hop opens for fun!
A Nook as the grand prize. Many, many books and other gifts will be given away to everyone who comments on the blogs. Great fun to be had, new authors to meet, old friends to reconnect with including Juniper Bell and debut author Boone Brux. 

Later this month author Beth Ann Masarik will stop by on her World Among Us tour. She has a big month lined up. Check it out HERE to make sure you don't miss a day.

AND a very special treat, the debut novel of Lizbeth Selvig (the cover is here). Her RWA Golden Heart winning Songbird has a new name and is being published by Avon Impulse. Don't worry, you'll hear more about The Rancher and the Rock Star as the date grows closer. Don't want to miss this one! The book is available for pre-order now.  

And in there, Morgan will have her butt planted in the chair finishing Book 3 - Weathering the Storm, a continuation of the sexy Shaughnessys. 

Who cares how much snow piles up outside, or how low the temperatures dip? Inside we're warm and cozy!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Virtual Book Tour - Leslie Soule

In conjunction with Goddess Fish Promotions, I'd like you to help me welcome guest author Leslie Soule today. She getting out the word about her Fantasy novel, Fallenwood and below has some wonderful insights into the creation of fantasy characters and worlds. Please be sure to comment so you're entered to win a Barnes & Noble gift certificate!

Combination Theory and Other Madness
Leslie D. Soule

Does anyone remember The Wuzzles? When I was little, I loved The Wuzzles – as a matter of fact, I still have my Wuzzle, Hoppopotamus, that I used to snuggle up with every night. She was my personal destroyer of boogeymen hiding under the bed, and she is part hippopotamus, part rabbit, with wings. I kid you not. Each Wuzzle character in The Wuzzles was a combination of two things. There was Bumblelion – Bumble bee + Lion, Eleroo – Elephant + Kangaroo, Rhinokey – Rhino + Monkey, Moosel – Moose + Seal, and Butterbear – Butterfly + Bear.

Well, the creator of The Wuzzles may have been on to something with their combination idea. In writing fantasy, I often come up with original items for my stories by combining two common ideas. For example, what if I were to take a staple of fantasy novels – a dragon, and combine it with….fire? A dragon made purely out of fire. Oh wait, I think that’s been done – I’m getting a flashback from the movie Lord of the Rings, with the dragon firework soaring overhead. But you get the idea. You can do that with anything, not just elements. Let’s take…a mushroom, and combine it with….a toad. Poof! Mushroom Toad! Oh wait, Super Mario Brothers…the character Toad with the Mushroom hat. Umm…ok, so let’s take…(I’m really trying here) a rose, and combine it with…poison. Poisoned roses that harm all who touch them – but I think I’ve seen that in a movie somewhere. 

Hmm…anyway, that’s an example of how things can be combined in fantasy in a way that is pretty unique to it. I would consider The Wuzzles to be a work of fantasy. I think The Wuzzles gives us another good rule of thumb for writing – if it seems too silly to possibly work in something you’re writing or creating, it’s probably going to be pretty awesome. An example of this is a conversation that my friends and I frequently have. It goes something like this – 

“Hey, how do you think the creator of Super Mario Bros. came up with the idea for the storyline? You think it just popped into his head and he was like, ‘Hey, I have this great idea. So there are these two plumbers, right, and they walk around eating mushrooms and they travel through tubes and when they eat flowers, they can spit fire…’ And then the guy’s friends were probably like, ‘Whoa, man, what did you eat for breakfast?’”

Anyway, my point is, when you think about it, the idea for Super Mario Bros. and for The Wuzzles, and anything fantasy-like, ends up being really, ridiculously silly – only these things have turned out to be really awesome and unique and wonderful. 

Thank you for listening to my crazy ranting today! If you’re interested in entering to win a Barnes & Noble gift card, please leave a comment, along with your name and e-mail address.
Leslie Soule lives in Sacramento, California. Fallenwood is her first fantasy novel. She has received her B.A. in English from Sacramento State University and is currently working on her Master’s degree in English at National University.

Fallenwood—a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. When 23-year-old Ash is thrust into the middle of Fallenwood’s power struggles, she is also forced to face her own inner battles. Life on Earth was hard enough on Ash, who is locked in grief for her stepfather. Now, the fate of Fallenwood rests on her shoulders. She must destroy the Great Crystal—the catalyst for all the land’s magic. As the kingdoms prepare for war, Ash must look inside to find the power to save the world, and herself.

Price: $4.99
Pages: 194
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Release date: March 2011
Buy link

Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting Revved Up - What's New for 2012

First of all, what's new is I discovered how to add pages to this site. 

Yeah, yeah, feel free to blow some raspberries or laugh. I'd rather spend my time writing than messing with setting up websites. I'm not quite as technology-challenged as my son thinks I am. Because he considers me barely computer literate (never mind I was rebuilding them when he was still in the crib) it means he does most of the work when setting up new stuff.

Example, this Christmas we bought him a super duper newer faster better stronger computer. Since his "old" computer was much newer than mine, I was gifted with the "old" Sony Vaio. Of course, this moved me from XP to Win7 OS. A huge necessity in his opinion. I'm not complaining. The machine is sleeker and faster. However, there is still some adjustment going on. Sort of like I'm still looking for baskets of yarn that were moved out of the living room to make room for the Christmas tree. Yeah. My files are all rearranged. Sigh.

So, since I discovered the ability to add pages, I've added one for each of my books. The Shea ones. Morgan's on her own for the moment.  You'll find the links to the right, at the top. Feel free to check them out, read excerpts, follow the buy links at the bottom. If you've read the books I'd sure love to read some positive commentary. The writer's ego is such a fragile thing... Ahem!

I'm also hosting some Virtual Book Tours. One or two a month, remember that writing gig I do, so if you'd like a day on my blog, just send me a note! We'll check the schedule and see what works best.  Generally speaking, Wednesdays and Thursdays are pretty much wide open. 

Speaking of VBTs, tomorrow Leslie D. Soule will be here with a blog on where ideas for fantasy books/stories come from. Personally, I find them under cabbage leaves. Or in really, really weird dreams. Be sure to stop by and comment to be entered in her drawing for a B&N gift card. 

So, 2012 is here, the Chinese New Year is here, as well as a record level snow fall for South Central Alaska. What's new with you? Have goals for 2012? Still going strong with them? What's on your minds? Someone remind me that spring will come again, soon followed by summer. I'm really looking forward to summer!