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Friday, November 30, 2012

When Harry Met Ava...


…not that Harry is my sort. I much prefer tall, blond scientists who are soft-spoken and kind-hearted. But aside from all that... For 23 years now I’ve thought that Nora Ephron must have been channeling me when she created the character of Sally Albright. I share so many similarities with Sally. I mean, she’s even a writer, for heaven's sakes! (But can I stop for a minute and ask if anyone else can believe When Harry Met Sally is 23 years old?!?!? Seriously - 23!! Two more years and it’ll be a quarter of a century old! Great! Now I feel old.)

Anyway, when I first watched this movie...All the way through, I thought Sally was just like me. Here is the best example:

Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
Sally Albright: I don't see that.
Harry Burns: You don't see that? Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't want the regular dressing. I'll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. "On the side" is a very big thing for you.
Sally Albright: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry Burns: I know; high maintenance.

Yep! I’m, apparently, the worst kind too. And that whole “on the side” thing is totally me (though I'd never eat mustard sauce "on the side" or otherwise. Yuck!). Just ask any of the Lady Scribes who’ve ever gone to dinner with me. The first thing I do in any restaurant is try to figure out if there’s anything on the menu I don’t have to “special order”. See… I try to be the low maintenance sort. I’m just not.

But I’m with Sally on this. I just want it the way I want it too. And if I’m paying money for it, I should be able to get it the way I want it, right?

Sally Albright: But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally Albright: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

I am, in my defense, a generous tipper. And I always say “please” and “thank you.” I’m not really a pain, or at least I don’t think so. But, I suppose, this could maybe all be categorized as me thinking I’m low maintenance when really I’m high maintenance.

I'm not the only one I've recognized on the big or small screen. Years ago, when I watched the first episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I turned to my then husband and said, "OMG! Larry David is just like you!" And it was uncanny. Truly.

My ex-husband glared at me and said, "Everyone thinks Larry David is an (expletive)." And then he didn't talk to me for the rest of the day.

Funny thing, a lot of people think my ex-husband is an (expletive) too. If Larry David ever runs out of material, I know someone he can ping for ideas. ;)

So now you tell me, have you ever identified with a character in a movie, tv show or book so much, you think the author is spying on you for material? If so - which character do you relate to more than all others? What about friends or family? Have you ever come across a character and thought... He/She is just like _______? 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

It Takes a Village to Write a Novella

Ermergerd! Erts er Noveller!

Yes. You read that right. (If you managed to translate it at all, that is.) I've published my second novella! It's a Regency romance, and it was a lot of fun to write.

Most of the time.

The initial writing of it, getting the bare bones of the plot and scenes typed out, was fun. Getting back my editing notes from my critique partners was less fun, but since they made some great suggestions, I can't be upset. The story is definitely improved because of their input. And it got me thinking about how most writers are not an island. I'm certainly not.

Erin Knightley and Ava Stone have been great sounding boards throughout the process, not minding if I talked at them, trying to work out what the heck was going on in my story. Samantha Grace and Erica Monroe sent me those fabulous critiques that so kindly pointed out my enormous plot holes. (Don't worry, ladies. I'm totally ready to return the favor.) Andris Bear very patiently made endless versions of The Lady and the Duke's cover until I was happy with it, and that was no easy task, mind you.

I also received quite a bit of...help from Twitter. Yes, I suppose we can call it help. 

Deanna Raybourn and Chandra Ryan helped me come up with the costume that Audrey wore to the fancy dress ball, although Marquita Valentine gave me a couple of interesting suggestions also. (Erm. We'll just leave it at that, mmkay?) And Maya Rodale was having a conversation, which I was not a part of but stuck my nose into anyway, that gave me a great idea. A really fun idea. She was joking about how someone should write a Regency era Katniss, and while my Audrey in NO WAY resembles the Hunger Games heroine, I did take the germ of that bit of brilliance and run with it. It's one of my favorite parts of the novella, actually. I'm not saying anything else. You'll just have to read it. *G*

The Lady and Duke:



 Miss Audrey Ellis has failed to catch a wealthy, titled husband in her two London Seasons,and merely wishes to return to her quiet country life, leaving high society behind her for good. But when an unexpected encounter brings the Duke of Halford into her life, she will have to decide if she has the courage to change her prudent, unadventurous plans and reach for something more.

William Langston, the Duke of Halford, wasn't looking for love. He came to Town to hunt down his sister's blackmailer, hoping to head off a scandal in the making. But the Viscount Claremont is more elusive than the duke was prepared for, and leads him on a chase through society's drawing rooms and balls. Will soon finds himself distracted from his mission by Audrey's fresh beauty and lack of pretension, something scarce in his rarefied world.

The pair are drawn together despite their differences, but as scandal looms and rumors spread, danger is closer than ever before.


 Excerpt:


There was the sound of a scuffle beyond the portal leading to the main part of the house and Audrey, along with several other guests, craned her neck to see what the commotion was. The door was suddenly flung open and in strode Halford, his face set and grim. His gaze swept the room and upon seeing her, he faltered, his expression softening. Audrey blinked, surprised and unsettled by his sudden appearance.
After their encounter at the lending library, she had not counted on seeing him so soon.
"His Grace, the Duke of Halford," announced the butler breathlessly, having darted into the room on the duke’s heels. Having done his duty, he sniffed, straightened his mussed jacket and retreated stiffly. By the butler’s behavior, Audrey could only surmise that the duke had not given the man any time to announce him, but simply barreled right through.
How very curious.
Just as Halford stepped toward her, Lieutenant Whitton returned with a glass of lemonade in his hand. He stopped directly in front of Audrey, blocking her view of the duke.
"The lemonade was nicely chilled, so I assumed you would prefer it over the punch, which was shamefully warm," he said, full of good cheer.
Audrey forced a smile and took the glass he proffered, willing him to move. He remained blocking her view, as if he had taken root on the spot. There was such a thing as taking chivalry too far. Having done his mother’s bidding, he should be halfway across the room by now, flirting with giggly, petite blond Beatrice Lettington.
Although the venomous twit certainly didn't deserve someone half as nice as the lieutenant.
It was amazing how one's view could change so precipitously. Only a few weeks ago, Audrey would have been delighted for Lieutenant Whitton to wait upon her hand, as he was a second son and not as closely bound to London society as his older brother, but now she had to smother the urge to shoo him away. She impatiently sipped her lemonade as he nattered on about his newest piece of horseflesh and discreetly attempted to peer around the man.
A wall of red and white, edged with gilt braiding, stood between her and the thing she wanted to see most.
"Lieutenant," she interrupted his monologue on the glorious history of the pair of Arabian horses his brother had acquired recently. "Would you be so kind as to fetch me something to eat? I am quite famished."
"Of course. I would be delighted," he said, his expression brightening, blue eyes filled with cheer. Despite the fact his attentions were unwelcome, he really was adorable. If she had met him before Will, she was convinced she could have fallen in love with him quite easily. As it stood, however, she just wanted him to go bother someone else.
"Would you mind finding me a plum? I adore plums."
"At your service, Miss Ellis. A plum, it is," he replied, with a short, very correct bow and strode off in the direction of the buffet tables set up in the adjoining room. Audrey sighed with relief and looked around.
The duke was nowhere to be seen.
She frowned and stood up, her heel catching on the hem of her dress. Ignoring the snigger from Beatrice as the girl whispered to a friend from behind her fan, Audrey smoothed her dress and walked to the terrace doors. Perhaps Halford was outside. She took a few steps across the bricks and peered out on the lawn, where several hearty souls still wandered, determined to enjoy the garden despite the heat.
Will was not one of them, however. Wherever had he gone?
"For shame, Miss Ellis. You are indeed as devious as you had claimed."
The soft accusation came from behind her. As a shiver worked its way down her spine, Audrey slowly pivoted to find Halford leaning on the door frame directly behind her, his shoulder propped against wood.




So, there you go. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! If you wish to purchase the The Lady and the Duke, it's available on AmazonBarnes and Noble Online and Smashwords

But, I'm giving away a free e-copy today! All you have to do is share your favorite love story of all time, whether it's from a novel, movie or real life. Leave your answer, and email address, in the comments to be entered in the drawing, and good luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Samantha Kane's Identity Crisis

The Lady Scribes are thrilled to welcome author Samantha Kane!  Here's her bio:


Reviewers have called Samantha Kane “an absolute marvel to read,” and “one of historical romance’s most erotic and sensuous authors.”  Her books have been called “sinful,” “sensuous,” and “sizzling.” She is published in several romance genres including historical, contemporary and science fiction.  Her erotic Regency-set historical romances have won awards, including Best Historical from RWA's erotic romance chapter Passionate Ink, and the Historical CAPA (best book) award from The Romance Studio.  She has a master's degree in American History, and taught high school social studies for ten years before becoming a full time writer. Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.

I've been looking forward to reading Sam's new release, which is also a venture into new territory for her.  But now I find it's causing her an Identity Crisis!  I'll let Samantha explain:



After fifteen published erotic romance books, most of them Regency historicals, I recently released a mainstream, non-erotic historical romance from Bantam Loveswept, the first in my new The Saint’s Devils series, called The Devil’s Thief. For some readers, this is incomprehensible. So let me start by saying that I didn’t mean to throw anyone’s world off kilter.

Let me also reassure fans of my Regency historical erotic series Brothers in Arms that I am absolutely NOT ending that series. I’m working on the next book right now. (It’s Daniel’s book at long last.)

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why I decided to write a non-erotic romance. It didn’t start out that way. The Devil’s Thief was originally written as an erotic romance. The one difference between The Devil’s Thief and my Brothers in Arms books was that Thief was written for a NY publishing house rather than a small, independent press. Initial feedback on the original erotic version from early readers, and agents and editors who read it, was that it should be rewritten as a mainstream, non-erotic romance. And that opinion was pretty unanimous. All those readers seemed to feel the book had a broader appeal and would reach more readers as a mainstream romance. And so I figured, why not? Well, actually I put it aside for over a year and then, when I finally wrapped my head around the idea of a rewrite, I pulled it out and rewrote it. After all, I loved the book and the premise. The rewrite seemed to go over well as I was signed almost immediately by the first agent who read it and he sold it less than a month later to Loveswept.

Fast forward about a year, to the present day. I seem to be having an identity crisis, at least as far as readers are concerned. Many of them aren’t sure if The Devil’s Thief is an erotic or a mainstream romance. The Devil’s Thief is about a young woman, Julianna Harte, who steals a famous pearl from a rake, Alasdair Sharp. They make a rather sinful bargain, Julianna disappears with the pearl, and Alasdair has to enlist the aid of his friends to find her and his pearl. The Devil’s Thief has received some excellent reviews by those who have read it. It’s a fun, rowdy kind of book with chases and fistfights and intrigue and lots of steamy love scenes. But it’s not erotic. Let me assure you all, it’s still a Samantha Kane book, with a lot of the same signature Samantha Kane elements.

The second book in The Saint’s Devils series, Tempting a Devil, will be out on July 8, 2013. 

Good luck resolving the confusion, Sam!  It sounds delicious to me!  What about you?  Have you ever faced an identity crisis or different expectations?  Sam has graciously consented to gift an electronic copy of The Devil's Thief to a randomly selected commenter below!



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Tis the Season...


…for Holiday romance! One of my most favorite times of the year!

Last year, my critique partners and I had an idea for a Christmas season set anthology. The plan was we’d each take a grandchild of the powerful Duke of Danby (who is put out that his grandchildren have not yet married or given him great-grandchildren to bounce upon his ancient knee) and tell their holiday love story. Nearly everyone wanted to participate in the endeavor, so much so that the stories of Danby’s grandchildren actually span FOUR different books.

I mean, look at this family tree! (I always have to have a family tree, which probably drove some of my critique partners crazy. But isn't it pretty?)


A SUMMONS FROM YORKSHIRE ~ Collection 1

AVA STONE’s The Counterfeit Christmas Summons is the story of Lady Emma Whitton and her plan to make Christmas 1812 the merriest ever as she lures her childhood crush to Danby Castle. So she uses a ruse to get him there? Whatever it takes, right?

AILEEN FISH’s The Viscount’s Sweet Temptation tells the story of Lady Harriet Thornhill who attempts to thwart her grandfather’s summons but ends up in the wrong carriage with the wrong man. Or is it the right carriage and the right man?

JULIE JOHNSTONE’s Gift of Seduction features Andrew Whitton, Earl of Hardwick who’s been miserable ever since he chose his fortune over the woman he loves. But when he encounters her again, can she forgive him? And will he make a better choice the second time around?

A SUMMONS FROM THE DUKE ~ Collection 2

JERRICA KNIGHT-CATANIA’s Loving Mister Lockwell introduces Lady Isabel Whitton whose home is overrun by…people. All right, they’re her cousins. Still, they’ve invaded her space and so has an uninvited and most infuriating guest.  

LILIA BIRNEY’s A Second Chance For Christmas tells the tale of troubled musician Lord Philip Whitton who has been summoned home from Italy. But before he makes it home, he stumbles upon the only lady who ever made sense to his heart.

SAMANTHA GRACE’s Twice Upon a Time is the story of Julian Beckford who tries to help a foolish cousin engage an actress’s services for an even more foolish scheme. But it isn’t long before he wishes the girl in question was playing a different role altogether.


CATHERINE GAYLE’s An Unintended Journey features Abby Goddard from a less than legitimate branch of the family tree. In fact, Abby’s headed to Danby Castle hoping for a dowry, not that she has much use of one since the love of her life seems to have vanished.

SUZIE GRANT’s A Caribbean Jewel for Christmas introduces high-seas smuggler Captain Randall Whitton who faces down a blackmailing British Naval Commander, but might be out of his depth with a certain Caribbean Jewel.

CHRISTI CALDWELL’s Winning a Lady’s Heart is the story of Lady Alexandra who is still smarting from a scandalous season and the loss of her love, at least until the blackguard follows her to Danby Castle for the holidays.

A SUMMONS FROM HIS GRACECollection 4

JANE CHARLES’s Compromised for Christmas tells the tale of operative Miss Elizabeth Whitton, her daring escape from Napoleon’s France and the stablehand she’s somehow fallen for. All right, being a stablehand is just his cover. He’s a spy too.

OLIVIA KELLY’s It Could Only Be You features American Harry Connelly who’s crossed the ocean to face the man who disowned his mother many, many years ago. But when he finally arrives at Danby Castle, nothing is what he thought it was, and Harry finds himself caught between his past and his future.
PHYLLIS CAMPBELL’s Becoming a Lady introduces American Dorothy Paxton, from yet another illegitimate branch of the family tree. Bribed into crossing the Atlantic to meet her grandfather, Dorothy finds her handsome escort tempts her in ways a lady shouldn’t be.

Many of these talented ladies have other holiday tales to tell as well...

The delightful Aileen Fish has not one but TWO Christmas stories out. 


THE MISTLETOE MISHAP

Seeing the woman to whom he intends to propose standing under the mistletoe, Robert, Viscount Alderton, can't resist stealing a kiss. He's quite surprised to discover her cousin, Isabella Stone, in his arms. And more surprised at how much he enjoyed kissing her.

Unbeknownst to the two, a notorious rake witnessed the kiss and takes it for granted Isabella was a willing participant. The rake's attempted seduction of Isabella becomes the scandal of the Christmas ball.

Alderton will do anything to keep Isabella safe, including marrying her. But Isabella could never admit her feelings for her cousin’s intended, and always hoped to marry for love. Can Alderton prove the accidental kiss was actually fate’s intervention?

THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING SCHEME

The Christmas season has always been important to Nash Sinclair. Home from the war and surrounded by his large, loving family, he realizes what is missing from his life: a wife. Not too surprisingly, he is looking at his sister-in-law’s rather becoming (and unmarried) sister when he makes the decision.

Lady Julianna intends to remain unmarried, having no need for a husband to live the life of her dreams. Rather than explain her unusual choice, she insists only a man who slays dragons would suit her, and since dragons don't exist, neither does her ideal beau.

Not one to turn away from a challenge, Nash enlists the aid of his nieces and nephews in a scheme sure to win Lady Julianna's affection. But as he comes to know the lady better, he realizes he’s risking his own heart. When did his silly idea become a crucial quest?

The amazing Jerrica Knight-Catania has two short stories in one holiday treasure...

THE PERFECT KISS
The original Wetherby Bride, Katherine Wetherby, is in a tizzy! Her brother's friend, the Duke of Weston, has come for a visit, and no matter how hard she tries, she can't seem to hold herself together when she's in his presence. Rather than face up to the romantic feelings she has for the duke, she decides to play matchmaker. But watching him dance attentions on her dear friend only makes her long for him more.

Despite her machinations, it seems Cupid may have other plans for Katherine and the handsome Duke of Weston.

CHRISTMAS WARMS THE HARTS

Catherine Wetherby Hart, Duchess of Weston, is convinced Christmas will be ruined if the famous Hart Christmas Ball isn't perfect. But two special guests might just make it the best Christmas ever in this Hart-warming short story.

The wonderful Lila Birney has a new Christmas novel out this season...


When Lady Penelope Annand's trusted servant goes missing just before Christmas, she is determined to get to the bottom of the matter. Even if that means hiring a thief-taker to track down her maid's whereabouts. But when the darkly smoldering Pierce Howe takes charge of the situation, Penelope finds herself growing more attracted to him by the second--even if she's infuriated by his high-handed manner. Penelope gave up on Christmas wishes years ago when her first husband broke her heart, but could Pierce give her a second chance at love?

Pierce Howe has made a name for himself as one of London's most reliable thief-takers, leaving behind his family's sordid past to create a life of his own. But when Viscountess Annand, known in society as The Ice Goddess, demands that he track down her wayward maid, he receives a Christmas gift he never expected--Penelope's trust. His carefully-constructed defenses begin crumbling as they embark on a Christmas charade to find Penelope's maid. And as the Ice Goddess shows that she does indeed have a melting point, the thief-taker must decide if he can risk it all and tell her the truth about his past.

The lovely Jane Charles also has a new Christmas story that is now available...

A LASS FOR CHRISTMAS

Lady Madeline Trent had grand plans for her future until she learned her family’s awful secret. When a fall through an icy lake lands her in the arms of a handsome Scot, her future is more unsure than ever. 

Lachlan Grant, the Marquess of Brachton, may hold an English title, but he's a Scot through and through. He's bound and determined to marry a lass just as Scottish as he is, at least until his fate is altered one snowy night.
And phenomenal Samantha Grace has a free Christmas read - A BEAU MONDE BACHELOR CHRISTMAS - for people who have signed up for her newsletter here...

Join newlywed couples Lord and Lady Norwick, Jake and Amelia Hillary, Daniel and Lisette Hillary, and Isaac and Serafine Tucker for their first Christmas together.  

Bibi, the Countess of Norwick, would love to give her husband the one thing he really wants for Christmas: a ceasefire between her and his intractable sister. Facing Lady Troll during the holidays without reinforcements, however, would be foolish, and Bibi is no fool. She calls upon her dearest friends, Amelia and Jake Hillary, and a few more familiar faces to spend Christmas in Kent to help make the season a little brighter. Unfortunately, her guests are distracted by their own challenges this holiday season, and Bibi must find a way to connect with her sister-in-law without their help if she hopes to make Jasper’s Christmas wishes come true.

What is your favorite holiday romance, setting or locale? One lucky commenter will win an e-copy of A SUMMONS FROM YOKRSHIRE.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Diet Dr. Pepper, Faulkner, and Love Inspired Suspense Author Liz Johnson

Happy post-Thanksgiving, everyone! If you are feeling a bit of a post-holiday lull, you should totally read a new book, right? And what better book to read than Liz Johnson's newest release for Love Inspired Suspense, A Promise to Protect?



Author Liz Johnson. Photo courtesy of Liz Johnson.

I am so pleased to be hosting Liz on the Lady Scribes blog today. Here's a bit of background on her:

About the Author: Liz Johnson graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations and works as an editorial and marketing manager at a Christian publisher. She is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Promise to Protect is her fourth novel with Love Inspired Suspense. Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. She enjoys connecting with readers and fellow book lovers online at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com, twitter.com/lizjohnsonbooks, and facebook.com/lizjohnsonbooks.

Let the interview begin!

LG: What made you choose to write in the inspy genre?I've always loved to write, and I feel really strongly that my writing is a gift from God. I want to serve Him with that gift. Also, it's a goal of mine to write books that are safe for any readers. I love hearing from moms, daughters, and granddaughters who have all read my books. Even more fun was hearing that my eight-year-old niece read my Christmas novella. Moms don't have to worry that there's anything inappropriate for young readers.

LG: What's the biggest misconception about you as a writer?I'm not sure that there are any conceptions about me at all. :) But I suppose there are lots of misconceptions about writers in general. One of the questions I get the most is "When will you quit your day job and write full-time?" After I stop laughing, I say, "Not for a very long time." I work in marketing by day, and I really like that my writing can be for fun. It's something I get to do for myself. Plus, it's kind of nice not to have the pressure to write just to keep a roof over my head. That I get to write for the fun of it and other people enjoy reading my books is really a treat.

LG: How do you get in the mood to write?I'm afraid I fall into the mindset of William Faulkner, who said, "I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning." I don't wait until I'm in the mood to write. I set a schedule, usually at night, and that helps me get into the mood. And even if I don't feel like writing, I still sit in front of my computer tapping out a story. I do have a couple things that I enjoy: a comfy chair, lounge-wear, and a good old diet dr. pepper. But when I write in a coffee shop or with a friend, I may not have any of those, and I still work on a project.

LG: Have you considered writing in another genre?My new book, A Promise to Protect, is my fourth romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense, and I love writing for them. Suspense is such a fun genre. With villains who are willing to risk everything, strong, brave heroes, and spunky, spirited heroines, what's not to love? I did write a historical novella last year. The amount of research required for historicals had always intimidated me, but I loved writing about the end of the Civil War in Middle Tennessee. I was able to explore the history of the Nashville area and visit some of the plantations near my home and use that to build the story. Throughout the years I've written lots of books, and the one thing they all have in common is the romantic element. I love a good love story.

LG: Name 1 historical figure who inspires you and why.I want to say Abraham Lincoln because he's been a favorite of mine for years, but that seems a little bit too easy given the new movie. So I'll go with L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables and so many other magnificent books. Though her life wasn't as happy as I always thought it should be, Maud found beauty in nature and God's creation. Her books inspired me to visit Prince Edward Island, and I immediately fell in love with the island that she loved, too. Her books and her life remind me that there's joy to be found in the simple things.

LG: I am a huge LMM fan, too. My dream vacation is Prince Edward Island! Liz, finish this sentence: "If I couldn't write, I would..."Have a lot of free time. :) Seriously, I think I'd go a little crazy. The stories in my mind need an escape. I need to let them out.

LG: OK, we are almost out of time. Lightning round! Choose 1:

Chocolate or vanilla?
milk chocolate
Diamonds or pearls? diamonds
Dogs or cats? I'm petless. :(
Brad Pitt or George Clooney? Oh ... neither? Give me Damian Lewis or Jeremy Renner any day!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Liz, and for giving away a copy of A Promise to Protect to one lucky reader. Readers--if you want to be entered in today's drawing, please leave a comment below with your email address. Thank you!

A Promise to Protect. Photo courtesy of Liz Johnson.
And here's just a taste to spark your interest:

A Promise to Protect
Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend’s sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer–not on his watch. But Matt’s not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women’s shelter she runs. She’s sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can’t handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web more sinister than she’d realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanks, but I'd rather not...

...by Olivia Kelly

Yes. I am going for the easy post today. I'm blogging about...

BLACK FRIDAY!


That day where, in America, almost any and every store has some sort of sale. Many items are drastically reduced, such as flat screen TVs, leather jackets or Fry Daddys, making them popular grab-n-gos. Some stores have specific things discounted, others discount everything. If you plan well, and have patience and fortitude, you can actually save thousands of dollars.

So I've heard anyway.

I am a frugal shopper.  I shop the discount racks, sales and clearances. I shop clothing out of season, when possible, and hold off buying as much as I can until I receive some sort of coupon in the mail. It is actually painful for me to pay full price. It goes against the very (cheap) grain of my soul. You would think Black Friday would cause much rejoicing in my shriveled, little miserly heart.

You would be wrong.

I have shopped Black Friday only once. It was more than enough to convince me that no discount was worth dealing with that ever again

First, my friend and I waited in the freezing cold, at 4am, outside of a Target, armed with coffee, a map of the Black Friday layout and our sale flyers. Folks, I didn't even get up at 4am to have my babies, okay? 4am is an ungodly hour. NEVER AGAIN.

Second, people are rude. It's shameful how nasty people can get over a TV or some Skylanders (Wii game, if you don't have kids) avatars. Now, I didn't see any of the craziness that you hear about in the news, thank goodness. But the general attitude is "Get out of my way, or I'll MAKE you...and don't even think about taking that last Martha Stewart pan set." Really, that alone was enough to put me off Black Friday. No one needs matching dish towels and oven mitts that badly. Take a deep breath and get a freaking grip on yourself.

Third, and lastly, I didn't really save very much money. Maybe it was because I didn't need anything, and therefore couldn't justify the expense of buying a TV or laptop just because of the "amazing deal". Now, I have heard of people who save crazy amounts of money on Black Friday, so I guess it works for them. If you can't afford a new bike or need a washer and dryer, I bet this would be the time to look. Just watch out for flying elbows.

I'm sure it sounds like I'm downing Black Friday, but I'm really not. I'm just telling you why I'd rather sit through Transformers 3 on loop for eight hours than shop today. But, hey, if it works for you and you save money, more power to you. My advice is drink a pot of coffee, wear shin guards and, just like in the zombie movies, cardio is king. Maybe do a few stretches before they let you in the store. Limber up.

And then...go get 'em, tiger. 


Do you shop on Black Friday? In the stores or online? What your most interesting/craziest/funniest Black Friday story?


Thanks to http://www.someecards.com/ and http://www.bluntcard.com/ for their hilarious (as always) e-cards. If you've never been to this sites, you must check them out. They rock.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Lady Scribes!


By Andris Bear

Unless you're living underground with the trolls (don't pretend they aren't down there), you know today is Thanksgiving, the day families across the United States get together for mandatory fun and turkey.

This handsome guy is super excited.

Even though you're all feasting with your loved ones rather than reading this silly blog post, I thought I'd share a little something--FUN FACTS, YA'LL--with you.

1) Did you know Sarah Hale, the author of "Mary had a Little Lamb," campaigned for twenty years, spanning five presidents, for Thanksgiving to be recognized as a national holiday? On October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln decided to declare the last Thursday in November our national Thanksgiving.

2) Because white meat is so popular, turkeys have been bred to have huge breasts (don't snicker). So much so that the male turkey is unable to mount the ol' gal. Almost all domestic turkeys are artificially inseminated.

3) Forks had not yet been invented, so pilgrims ate with spoons, knives and their fingers. Which is really not that much different from how the men in my family eat.

Minus the sexy cap.


4) Male turkeys gobble. Hens cluck.

5) A 16 week old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a roaster. Niiiice. Name the poor buggers after how to cook them.


"I love Thanksgiving turkey. It's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts." Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Hope you enjoyed my useless little ditties. Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks for the Goofy, the Odd and the Just Plain Convenient Things

Don't you just love the whole idea behind Thanksgiving?  There's something magical about the whole nation pausing a moment to count their blessings.  It's been so fun this year as lots of people in social media take the whole month to list their blessings, because gratitude is catching and stalking someone else's list of goodies is just plain fun.

Hopefully we all  have big, important things in our lives for which we are thankful--family, health, jobs and good friends. But today, let's take a moment to share the goofball things that make us happy, the little oddities that make us happy, the tiny conveniences that make our day easier.

I'll get us started:

The Bowl.  It's just a simple, melamine mixing bowl, but it was a gift from one of the most special people in my life.  I use it all the time, and when I do, I imagine all the love we share mixing right into the dish I'm making.

My iPhone.  So much better than my old phone!  I've had this thing for almost 6 months and it still makes me grin.  There are only so many people I want to be instantly accessible to--and this thing makes it so easy!

I'm thankful that my kids are as addicted to stories as I am.  Books, movies, TV, real life.  Stories are everywhere and I love that my kids are interested in them, get wrapped up in them, and want to share and discuss them.  I get a tingle when Eldest speaks of the themes in his favorite anime and why they 'hit him in the feels.'  :-)  I laughed out loud when my then 11 year old walked out of Transformers 2 and said, "That was great--but did you catch the giant plot hole?"  I love when we see a movie or watch a show together and then sit around and discuss what we liked, what we didn't and what might have been done differently.

Socks.  Is it weird that I love socks?  Good ones.  Not too heavy.  Just soft enough.  They have to hit at just the right height near my ankle, too.  Finding just the right one is harder than you think--so when I find a good set, I buy extra.

What about you guys?  What odd things make you happy?  What is it that makes your life easier and better?  Share with us---and Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ghosts of Thanksgiving Day Past

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By Erin Knightley
This year, my hubby and I will be avoiding the Thanksgiving traffic jams, and are opting to stay home for Turkey day.  We’re thrilled to avoid the nearly ten hour drive to our hometown, even if it does mean missing out on time with our loved ones. And it’s not like we won’t see them—the world is a better place through the magic of Skype and FaceTime :)
When I was young, however, staying home wasn’t an option.  Oh no, every year we would pack up the car and take the 800 mile trek up to see my mother’s family in the suburbs of Chicago.
This was in the days before minivans, personal game devices, and that miracle known as the DVD/TV combo. It was just me, my older siblings, and my parents jammed into a car like the poor schmucks we were, pretending to like travel Yatzie minus two die and lap-top card games of War and Go Fish.
The trip seemed utterly interminable, but eventually we would pull into my grandparents short driveway, not even coming to a full stop before the doors were thrown open and we exploded from the car like popped corn.
Once inside, the familiar sound of football was the soundtrack to our reunion as everyone hugged Nana and Papa, and us kids covertly scouted out the ever-present candy dishes. There, sugar coated gumdrops and forbidden mini candy bars languished, calling to us like the sirens they were.  To us, the consumers of whole wheat bread and all natural peanut butter, my grandparent’s house was the Mecca of all things deliciously bad for us.
Wildwood cream soda would soon appear, blue and red striped bendy straws poking from their open tops. Salami sandwiches were next, complete with Italian dressing and insanely delicious white bread.  Even as we ate these sinful treats, my sister and I would already be focused on the next morning—Thanksgiving!—when we’d wake up to a box of Dunkin Donuts, procured by our Papa and complete with the cream filled powdered donuts that were surely the most wonderful things on the planet.
With powdery lips, full bellies, and the waning sounds of the Macy’s parade in the background, we’d get ready to head to my uncle’s house, where even more family awaited. There, the aroma of turkey greeted us before we even opened the door, as did the whirl of a hand mixer and the din of laughter. Our cousins, seen once a year like clockwork, would greet us at the door, and the rest of the afternoon would be a game of dodging responsibilities, namely setting the table and carrying folding chairs from the basement.
The food would be plentiful, the conversation boisterous, and the passage of time inevitable.  This yearly ritual, repeated for at least a decade, would set the bar for Thanksgivings for the rest of my life.  It’s been years since I’ve made it back to Chicago, and even longer since I was a carefree kid, happy to enjoy the moments that would linger in my memories for the rest of my life, but I’ll never forget those trips of yesteryear.
This year, I may not repeat the traditions of my childhood, but I’ll certainly be thinking about them. As my husband and dear friend join me at my own dining room table, I’ll be happy to make more memories to look back on years from now. Although. . . just for fun, I may see if I can talk my husband into an early morning Dunkin Donuts run ;)

What are your favorite Thanksgiving memories? Do you have a certain food or dish that takes you back? And are you planning on braving the holiday traffic to visit others this year?


Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful for the Memories

I haven’t been participating in the “Thankful” posts on Facebook, but I do enjoy reading them.  Friends and families are thankful for all kinds of things from their children to bourbon.  It isn’t that I don’t have anything to be thankful for because I have a ton. If I really sat and thought about each blessing in my life it would be overwhelming.  But lately, all of my thankfulness revolves around memories and the people who molded me and made me who I am today.

My parents had been married thirty-seven years when Dad passed away. If I could change anything, I wish he could have met my two youngest children and been there to see all three of them grow.  My oldest was eighteen months at the time and sadly, none of my children have memories of their grandfather, but he was a wonderful man. He is the one that gave me my love for baseball and the Cubs (no hating Cardinal fans), poker and work ethic.

They had a strong marriage and even though there were some fights, they continued to love each other and settled whatever difference they had quickly. My dad was always grabbing my mother and kissing her. Usually she was cooking or doing the dishes and she would swat him away, but she was smiling the entire time.  I knew that when I grew up and married, I wanted my marriage to be just like theirs.  

They disciplined (that was really mother’s department), and trust me, we never messed up again. A certain look and tone could send me hiding.  Spankings were rarely given. I received three, remember them clearly, and deserved each one. My parents ruled our house, not the other way around. I couldn’t date until I was sixteen, though I was allowed on group dates and school dances as soon as I was in high school. I had a curfew and had to call if I was going to be late or I wasn’t going anywhere the next weekend.  By the way, this was before cell phones and if you are driving and knew you are going to be late, you had better find a phone from somewhere fast.

My brother was eight years older and my sister was six years older.  I adored him and looked for ways to irritate her.  Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? 

My brother was a slob and would pay me to clean his room.  Let me tell you, it was disgusting and I did it all for a quarter.  I was a fool (and they still make fun of me for being so gullible), but I adored him.  The only time I remember him being in trouble with my father was when certain magazines were found in the trunk of his car (he was still in high school at the time).  My dad had a small fire going as magazine after magazine was tossed into the burning pile.  When asked what they were, I was sent back into the house.  Surely my brother, who was the most awesome person I knew at the time, wouldn’t have those kinds of magazines. Now that I am older and can reflect back, I am not shocked in the least.  By the way, he is a minister now though I am pretty sure that calling was not even on his radar at the age of sixteen.  He found his calling later in life, after marriage and children.

My poor sister had to share a room with me.  I talked in my sleep. But that isn’t what freaked her out. It was that I carried on conversations with her in my sleep.  When I knew she was having friends over I would get out all of my paper dolls and build their town in the center of the room.  I only did this because she hated them and not necessarily because I wanted to play with them at that moment. In truth, I was jealous of my her and wanted to be just like her.  She was beautiful and talented (she still is but we are talking about the past).  She played the piano  (I can barely manage chopsticks).  She could sing and act, and by the time she finished college spoke three foreign languages.  I can barely handle English.  She could do anything and I had not found a thing I was good at.

Oh, I loved baseball and other sports, but I wasn’t any good at them.  I was on the teams because everyone made the teams.  I was really the official bench warmer.  I only had a vivid imagination.  I was pretending and creating people as far back as I can remember.  Most children grow out of this, but I didn’t. There was always at least one character in my mind and a story playing out. I didn't tell anyone about this because I didn't want anyone to think I was crazy or childish. I absolutely adored my creative writing class in high school and took every English class I was allowed.  You would think my grammar and spelling would be better, but my mind was absorbing the books we had to read in literature, not the rules of sentence structure. Actually, there is a very good reason why I stink at spelling, grammar and often pronunciation, but I don't want to delve into that now.

What is funny is that while I loved my literature classes I still hated reading. I know, it makes no sense to me either. I wasn’t getting that you could also read a book for pleasure. Or, maybe it was I couldn’t sit still long enough to relax with a good book. I still have a very difficult time simply sitting no matter how good the book or fun the company. My reading was for assignments and that was it. It was my sister who handed me a romance novel at the age of sixteen and that is when I discovered reading for enjoyment (what else are you going to do on a 17 hour drive when DVD's didn't exist yet, and certainly not in cars). But, it was still a few years before I could sit and read.  I had too many other things going on.  Yep, I mentioned I am not good at sitting.

So, all of this time when I am in awe of my beautiful, intelligent and talented sister, and feeling sorry for myself because I had would never be as good as her, it never occurred to me that there might be something I am good at.  Oh, I tried poetry in high school (what girl doesn’t) and in my twenties a friend tried to convince me to write. I dismissed the idea and laughed it off as ridiculous (probably had more to do with fear of failure and insecurity).   However, the idea of writing a book kept popping up in the back of my brain for another ten or so years and I finally decided to give it a go. I found my passion and discovered the reason why so many people live in my head. 

Yay, I am not crazy after all.

Like my brother, I found what I really wanted to do after marriage and kids. My sister always knew. 

I do wonder what my father would think of me being an author.  But after his reaction to my brother's magazines, I am fairly certain I wouldn't want him reading some of my books.  Of course, my brother was a teen and I am adult, but he was my dad and certain things are not discussed.  I am sure my parents found me in the cabbage patch and we will leave it at that.  

My mother, now that is a different story.  Her one criticism on the a draft of my first book was that there weren't enough certain scenes (the very ones I would die if my father read - lol).  By the way, my mother probably read five romance novels a week.  She was also one of those lucky women who found her very own hero, married him and had an awesome marriage. And even though I am holding onto the idea of coming from the cabbage patch, I have no doubt that my parents had a a very loving and passionate marriage.  Mom didn't date after dad died.  She had one true love and has mourned him since.

Mom doesn't understand that I am an author now.  Dementia has settled in and she tried to give my book back the other day. She assumed it was mine because I had signed the inside of it for her. She didn't understand that I had written it.  Mom lives in the past, which may be why I am there today.  She misses her husband, even though it has been twenty years since he passed, and only talks about things that happened when he was still alive.

So this year, what I am most thankful for is my family and the memories. I can only hope that my children have similar fond memories and know that they were loved unconditionally and that each of them have their own talents, strength and are as individual as my brother, sister and I were/are.

What from your past are you most thankful for?