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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Travel tips?

Valiant Husband and I are veteran travelers--specifically--car travelers with kids.  We moved 8 hours away from family when we got out of college.  Most of the family is concentrated in one area and the rest visits regularly, so we learned early that we were the ones going home, not the other way around.

No problem.  We were young and full of energy.  (Ah, remember those days!?)  And then we had kids.

We developed strategies.  We drove all night when they were infants and toddlers.  They slept all night in their carseats and we took turns, so they were bright and happy on arrival and we were . . . not insane.  As they grew older we adjusted our techniques.  We were one of the first with a DVD player in the car...that Valiant Husband installed himself.  Gameboys were king--and saved for doctor's offices and long trips.  Books, once they were old enough to read.

I wish our kids were the type to play fun car license plate type games, but no--they are more the "Look there's the button that will one day destroy the world!" (This is shouted at least twice a year whenever we pass Pilot Mountain in NC--because it looks like a knob designed for some gigantic space alien or godlike deity)

We learned to pack snacks, and not to freak when they wanted beef jerky sticks from the gas station.  We learned to like fast food--on trips only.  In short, we relaxed our standards.  :-)

I've done a LOT of driving this year and we are going to do some more as we take the kids to Orlando. Eldest is a senior this year and I'm looking at this as our last car fling.

So, I'm looking for some more tips.  What do you guys do to ease the monotony on long car trips?  Any restaurant suggestions that will lure Youngest away from fast food?  Any games that jaded teenagers will play?  All suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Freshman 15...ahem, 30!

I got to thinking the other day about my loooooong history with weight loss and weight gain. I've been up and down more in my 35 years than...hmm, well, I can't think of a good comparison, but let's just say, I've yo-yo'd a lot. 

Me in high school -- look at that twig of an arm!!
I won't back all the way up to the first time I got chubby (3rd grade). Because I did eventually slim down (7th grade). And I was fairly tiny all through high school -- even though I totally thought I was fat at a whopping size 6.  I was 5 feet, 7 inches of awkward gangliness but that somehow transferred into fat cow when I looked in the mirror. If only I had known...

But let's fast forward a few more years. Let's take a skinny, suburban girl and plop her smack dab in the middle of NYC at the ripe old age of 18, with no one (ahem, Mom) sitting across from her at meals giving that warning look that says, "One more roll and you won't be able to fit into your prom dress."


Free to eat whatever and as much as I wanted. And I did. So, here were the main culprits in my Freshman 15...

Broadway Bagels. That beacon of carbs and dairy that flashed at me every time I left the sketchy building my school called "dorms". Toasting my everything bagel to perfection and then slathering it with enough full-fat cream cheese to choke the damn cow it came from. Oh, and don't forget those newfangled Starbucks' bottled Frappucinos they displayed so prominently in the refrigerated case. Breakfast. Of. Champions.

Coronet Pizza. For those days when my classes started a little later in the day, giving me time to stop for lunch on the way. I needed to break up that mile-long walk somehow, didn't I? Yes, I did. And the best way to do it was with the largest slice of pizza known to man. Like, ever. Here, do this...put your elbows right up against your hips. Now lift them so they form a triangle out in front of you. That's the size of the slice of pizza I had several times a week for lunch. With a Diet Coke, of course! I'm not a total glutton!

Apple Tree Deli. Now this was for those looooong days when I had, like, 3 or 4 classes. I know, exhausting, right? I certainly could have gone to the Mitzi Newhouse Pavillion (that was our school's cafeteria) and gotten a salad, but why do that when I could go just across the street and have a giant chocolate chip muffin for lunch??  You see my point, right? In the battle of Salad vs. Muffin, Muffin always wins.

Me with the extra 30, though I think it mostly went to my boobs. I still have a twiggy arm!

So, there you have it. My Freshman 15. Geez, okay! 30!!!

Now it's your turn. Did you go food crazy like I did the second you got out from under your parents' roof? What were your weaknesses??

Monday, July 29, 2013

Turning the Tables on a Hero

We all know how the heroes and heroines go in paranormal romance, right? There’s the tortured vampire who’s lived for centuries and needs the spunky human heroine to make him feel more alive and less, well, undead.

Or he's the brooding alpha werewolf or werecat who thinks he’s destined to live alone, always fighting to keep his spot—until he finds the woman who completes him.

Or the misunderstood demon who really isn’t evil at all—he just needs
the right woman to bring out the angel in him (unless, of course, he’s really a fallen angel).

Often, the heroines who become the emotional saviors of our paranormal heroes are humans. Women who are emotionally strong, courageous, straight-talking, and unimpressed by the hero’s posturing. As if imbued with emotional x-ray vision, they can look past his angst-riddled or downright grumpy outer shell and see the marshmallow heart behind those abs of iron.

And then there’s Jack Kellison, one of my recent hero characters. Kell has his work cut out for him.
Oh, he’s an alpha male, don’t get me wrong. He’s an Army Ranger recently pulled off active duty because of a back injury, and wants desperately to return to duty because it’s all he knows. He’s spent too much time in the company of other guys. Kell is smart, funny, loyal, brave, stubborn, and, yeah, kinda bossy. He’s good at barking orders.

Did I mention that Kell is human? He's the leader of a six-member counter-terrorism team specializing in domestic cases. Three of the team members are former Rangers. Two team members are brothers, black cougar-shifters. And one team member—the tracker for the unit—is a golden eagle shifter inappropriately named Robin. She weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet, can bench press way more than Kell, and has an aversion to clothing. This does not make Kell happy.

And then there’s the heroine of the story, Emory Chastaine. Mori has a lot of secrets of the not-quite-human variety.

Can a human hero still be alpha when the heroine might not be human at all? What can he bring to the table when he’s partnered—either professionally or romantically—with a shapeshifter or other paranormal critter?

First, he can bring experience. Kell’s got ten years of Ranger training and active duty under his belt. He is cool under pressure, is a good tactician, knows how to keep a team working together…and he’s handling pretty well the whole news that there are such things as shapeshifters, all things considered.

Second, he can bring a simple outlook and focus to everything he does. Face it—shapeshifters and other paranormals have all kinds of baggage. Pack structure, internal politics, pack or den rules, traditions, long lives, vendettas. I mean, if the dominant of the cougar-shifter den needs taking down, your human hero isn’t going to worry about who the beta might be. He’ll just do the job, or as Rangers say, “Rangers lead the way.”

Finally, in the romance department, the human hero might prove to be a breath of fresh air to a paranormal paramour—someone who doesn’t have an ulterior motive or a political agenda. And, hey, if he’s sexy, all the better!

So, raise a toast to the human hero in paranormal romance. Do you have a favorite? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or B-and-N gift card or Book Depository book if you’re outside the US, plus a copy of my human-shapeshifter romantic thriller (as Susannah Sandlin) Storm Force. (Be sure to leave your email in your comment so I’ll know how to find you!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Welcome Violet Duke!

Today, fabulous guest  author Violet Duke is here to talk about her upcoming new release, Nice Girl to Love: The Complete Collection, and give away two ecopies in celebration of the book launch.

Hi ladies!  Thanks so much for having me!  I’m thrilled to be here, and excited to share a little bit about my upcoming new release with all your awesome readers!  I actually have two books coming out on the same day (July 31st)--Choosing the Right Man, the final book in the Nice Girl to Love serial romance series, as well as the complete boxed set.  The 'nice girl' in this three-book contemporary romance collection is Abby Bartlett, the very definition of the woman folks are always talking about when they tell men to “go find a nice girl to love.”  


In the first two books in the series, you are introduced to the Sullivan brothers—one a bad boy, the other a good guy.  It’s funny because right after the release of the first book, Resisting the Bad Boy, I got a ton of questions from fans asking why I wrote Abby’s tale as a serial.  Readers wanted that HEA then and there; they absolutely did not want Abby to even consider a romantic involvement with her best friend Brian, Connor’s brother.  After the release of the second book, Falling for the Good Guy, however, everyone 'got it.'

The way I explain it to my husband is this: I'm just the vessel.  I can give my two cents and my muse can offer inspiration but at the end of the day, it's the characters that control the story.  They're the ones that keep me up at night telling me their back stories, sharing their dreams, and letting me in on all those hidden emotions that the other characters don't know about.  There have been days where I've gasped out loud and stopped whatever mundane task I was doing because one of the characters chose that moment to reveal a missing piece of the story.  And so my best answer to the question of why a serial (seeing as how all my other books are not serials) is that from day one, it was clear that for these particular characters, the Nice Girl books had to be told as three individual, but intertwined stories.

So really, it isn’t because I like torturing readers with cliffhangers (or 'skydives,' as one of my fans calls the endings of Books 1 & 2) but rather, because the first two books are distinctly separate stories about two polar opposite men whose relationship with Abby run completely parallel to one another.  It isn't until Book 3 that they truly intersect.  Thus, as many of my fans tell me, this isn’t exactly your prototypical love triangle serial.  Both brothers deserve the HEA, but it’s of course not as simple as that.  Connor has layers you don’t see coming and as you learn more about Abby’s long and complex friendship with Brian and his daughter, Skylar, you’ll further see why she’s so torn.  In the final book, Choosing the Right Man, which will be released the same day as the boxed set, Abby makes her choice.  And yes, it’s a tear-jerker of a finale.

The complete Nice Girl to Love serial romance collection includes: Resisting the Bad Boy (Book One), Falling for the Good Guy (Book Two), and Choosing the Right Man (Book Three).  The ebook will be available on July 31st and the paperback in mid August.  The book synopsis is as follows:

Available July 31st
The One She Never Thought She Could Keep

Abby Bartlett is the quintessential nice girl. Between teaching, volunteering, completing her PhD, and helping her best friend raise his daughter, Abby never gets the chance to be anything but nice. That is, until the all-wrong-for-her man she’s only ever known from afar starts daring her to simply take that chance for herself. His sage advice? Try something wild and fast.  Preferably him.
An unbridled, hotshot attorney with a not-so-little black book, Connor Sullivan has earned himself quite the bad boy reputation. But in his defense, he’s a very conscientious one. He knows far too well that sometimes in life, love isn’t enough…or worse, not even a factor at all. To avoid that misery–and repel the drama–Connor has a firm ‘nothing over a month’ rule.  Who knew a nice girl would be the one to make him want to break all his rules?

The One She Never Hoped She Could Have

Abby is well aware that everyone thinks she’s in love with her best friend Brian. He is, after all, the type of man a nice girl should be with—the polar opposite of the bad boy—the kind of guy who didn’t let his wife’s decade-long illness stop him from showering her with a lifetime of love every second until her dying day. But everyone’s wrong; she couldn’t possibly be in love with him.  Because she’s never once allowed herself that option.

It’s taken a while but Brian has finally come to terms with surviving the woman he spent half his life loving, a third of it losing. Truth is though, he wouldn’t have ‘survived’ any of it really had it not been for Abby—sweet, incredible Abby—the woman he’s never once had to picture his life without, never realized he couldn’t truly live without. Until now. Now that he’s finally able to love her the way she deserves, the way he knows she wants to be loved…by his brother.  Who’s giving him exactly one chance to speak now or forever hold his peace.

A Decision She Never Dreamed She’d Have To Make…

And now it’s up to Abby to decide between the bad boy wanting to start a life with her and the good guy fighting for the life they’ve already built.
Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels.  Besides writing and feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, she can often be found tackling reno projects with her power tools and trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, or cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes.  Violet lives in Hawai’i with her two cute kids and similarly adorable husband.



Today, I'm giving away two ecopies of Nice Girl to Love: The Complete Collection.  

How to Win:  Just comment below on your favorite bad boy or good guy (from your favorite movies, TV shows, or books).  Two random winners will be announced on Sunday, July 28th and the winners will be gifted an ecopy of the book when it goes live on July 31st.  Good luck!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Guest blog by author Peggy L. Henderson

Today we are absolutely delighted to welcome western and time-travel author Peggy L. Henderson with us!  

Inspiration and story ideas
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how do I come up with ideas for my stories. I’m sure that’s a common thing authors get asked.  I’ve heard other authors say they can draw inspiration from anywhere, be it in the line at the supermarket checkout and overhearing a bit of conversation between two people, or looking at a certain photo or painting that might strike their creative juices for a story. A lot of times, songs inspire a novel. My story ideas come mainly from country music and also straight from the history books.

 When I wrote my first book, Yellowstone Heart Song, the inspiration was the easy part. Yellowstone National Park has always been my passion, my love, and I wanted to showcase the wonders of the area in my book. I’ve also always had a fascination with early American history, primarily the Indians and the fur trappers and mountain men. Next, I wondered what it would be like to travel back in time and experience the natural beauty of Yellowstone the way it was before the influx of modern life. 

When I decided to write a sequel to the book, I drew from some of the mountain man stories, and included a famous incident that happened to the man who was considered the first European to have set foot in what is now Yellowstone. By the time I was finished writing the book, I knew I was going to be writing several more, and the series has become my fictional account of Yellowstone’s journey to become the world’s first national park. My focus in the series was not only the romance stories in each book, but also to showcase the park and its history. Much of my inspiration for the romance aspect of the book came from country music.

After the Yellowstone series was completed, I knew I wanted to write another western-themed time travel, and the Oregon Trail sounded like a fascinating subject to explore. I was at a loss for an idea for my characters, however, until I came across a song by Eric Church, called Home Boy. From that song, my hero for the first book in the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series was born.

As I write more historical and time travel romance novels, I know I’ll continue to draw on the beauty of our western landscape for inspiration, along with country music and  historical accounts of the mountain men who carved out a living in the rugged Rocky Mountains of years gone by.

Excerpt from Yellowstone Heart Song:

For the better part of the morning, Daniel led her through the forest, showing her how to read different tracks, other signs to look out for that an animal had been in the area, where to look for edible roots and plants, and how to watch the skies for changes in the weather. Along with the berries, she filled her backpack with mint, wild onions, licorice, and various other roots and plants.

She had listened attentively as she tried to absorb everything Daniel told her. Some things she already knew, others were completely new to her. The subtle animal signs he picked up on astounded her. Silently, he had pointed out a black bear sow and her twin cubs in the distance, a moose in the thickets that she would have completely overlooked, and countless other smaller animals. He knew which critter made every track they came upon. He read the forest for information as someone in her time would read a newspaper. It was most refreshing to get a glimpse of this wilderness that she loved so much in her time from this man who carved out a living here.

Aimee savored the beauty of her surroundings. Aspen trees grew in abundance. Beaver lodges could be seen all along the streams, and countless otters played in the waters. With the coming of the fur trappers to these mountains within a decade of this time, the beaver would be trapped to near extinction. Wolves would be hunted until none remained, and without this predator, the elk would take over, causing the destruction of the aspen from overgrazing. This was a Yellowstone unfamiliar to her, but it was as nature had intended before the encroachment of man.

You can find out more about Peggy at her website and please make sure to like her FB page!

Peggy L Henderson is a laboratory technologist by night, and writes during the day. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for twenty years. Along with her husband and two teenage sons, she makes her home in Southern California. They dream of moving to Montana some day.
 Purchase links:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Welcome, Little Prince!

A prince is born!!! What a way to start the week. As I watched footage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bringing their precious newborn boy outside for the world to see, I actually teared up and got goosebumps. I have a feeling I wasn't the only one. But here's a little secret... I would have had the same reaction to any new parents presenting their baby and beaming with pride.

What's odd is I'm not particularly a baby person. I mean, they're cute and smell good after a bath, but I don't have the same urges as some other women to steal the baby from her mom and rain kisses on her sweet baby head. Don't get me wrong. I've liked every baby I've met. I'm just not a baby nut. 

So... It really doesn't make sense that I LOOOOVE baby showers. I love the pastel butter mints and the tiny baby hiking boots and the shower GAMES. Lord help me, but I'm that one nerdy chick that wants to diaper dolls while blindfolded and pick up cotton balls with a pair of tongs, also while blindfolded. 

Okay, not the cotton ball game. I don't even get that one. Never in my fifteen years of parenting have I had a need to pick up cotton balls with tongs. I've had to fish floaters out of the tub, scrape Silly Putty out of the carpet, and tie shoes on a squirming toddler with the skill and stamina of a calf-wrestler. 

Cotton balls? Pfft... Give me a real challenge. 

But since none of the above mommy-jobs are fun, they don't make good games. I've hosted several baby showers, so I have a few favorite games I like to use. Some I developed myself and some I blatantly stole from others. 

1) Baby Diaper Broach - I make tiny diapers out of wide ribbon by cutting a square and folding it to create a triangle. I use blue if we know it's a boy and pink if it's a girl, but you could use any color. Then I put a small mark inside one of the diapers. Using small diaper pins, guests pin them to their shirts. Toward the end of the shower, everyone takes off their broach and whoever has the "dirty diaper" gets a prize. 

2) Secret Code Word - I come up with a common word most people use when oohing and aahing over baby gifts. I share the word with everyone except the mother-to-be then hand a gift bag to one person. I tell them that every time the mother says the word, the bag has to be passed, but they are supposed to try to keep the word a secret as long as possible. If the mama guesses the word, whoever has the gift bag gets to keep the gift.     

3) Baby Mad Libs - I love creating a story about the day the baby is born and ask guests as they arrive to give me a noun, verb, adverb, etc. Once the blanks are filled, I read the story everyone wrote and present it to the guest of honor for the baby book. (Yeah, I think I'm that good. LOL)

4) Baby Food Game - Get jars of baby food, remove the labels, number the jars, and record the answers somewhere. Guests are given a sheet of paper and asked to guess what kind of food it is. They can sniff or taste if they want. The mixed foods are really hard, so I try to stay with the straightforward ones.

5) Dirty Diaper Game - Buy 5-6 different candy bars, open them, put them in disposable diapers with numbers written on the outside (1, 2, 3, 4...), then crush them. I've even put them in the microwave to get them melty. The guests have to guess the candy bar by looking in the diaper. I can't tell you have much fun this was with a group of nurses. Those women take poop seriously! 

And finally, here's a game we can all play today to celebrate the famous little prince across the pond. Name as many famous babies (real or fictional) as you can in two minutes. 

Here's one to get you started: Baby New Year
Ready, set, GO!!!  

Do you like party games or do you prefer to sit them out? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Next Stop . . . PARIS

A few weeks ago I blogged about my wonderful trip to London.  Today, I continue with our second stop – Paris. I love, love, love Paris and have been lucky enough to have been there three times prior to this trip.  On our first day we took a quick bus tour where many sites were pointed out. As you can see from the first picture, weather wasn’t our friend.  Wet, rainy and chilly.  But, it didn’t dampen my mood. 

As this had been my husband’s first visit, I left it up to him to decide what he wished to do.  Most of it involved weapons and unfortunately we never made it to École Militaire.  There is a fascinating history behind this school turned museum, one being is this was where Napoleon trained, but I have yet to venture inside.  I guess that means I must take another trip and make sure it is not missed again. 

 Our stop at Notre Dame didn’t really allowed us the time to stand in line and view the inside as it should be (only thirty minutes) so after a quick photo op we opted for a café across the street to warm up with a quick beverage ;).

Day two found us at the Louvre.  No matter how many times I visit, the place simply overwhelms me.  So much art in what used to be a Palace, and it is impossible to see in one visit.  Two other couples joined my husband and I and of this group, three had been here before so we led the tour to a few highlights such as the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo and whatever else they wished to see.  For me, I discovered a room I had not seen before. It was filled with some of the most beautiful sculptures I had ever seen, which were included in the room that held “Cupid and Psyche”.  I took a ton of photos of the different statues as they will be my inspiration for a story due out next year.

This day in Paris was much better than the one before.  After we left the Louvre we went in search of a specific bridge. Yes, I said bridge.  I lost count of how many were built over the Seine but this one, my friend explained is the “Lock Bridge”.  I hadn't heard of a lock bridge and I am probably alone in this and apparently several cities have lock bridges.  The official name of the one in Paris is Pont de Arts located close to the Louvre.  Couples write their name on a lock, attach it to the bridge and then toss the key into the Seine.  The only way that love can be broken is to retrieve the key and remove the lock.  The romance author in me loved learning about these locks and a number of stories popped up in my mind. I think a contemporary romance author was born because I have several stories ideas I want to write that center around a love lock.  I can’t wait to get started on them, but first I have to finish the series I have started.

On a funny note, one of the men in the group noticed a few padlocks (like you would find on a school locker) and decided that whoever put that lock there wasn’t nearly as serious about love as the others.

Our afternoon continue to a place I had always wanted to visit but had never been given the opportunity – the Concierge.  It was once a Royal Palace but in the days of the Revolution, the Palace of Justice. It was here that those awaited execution by the guillotine.  We took a tour of the rooms where people were registered when they came in, where the stopped on the way out to have all their hair cut, and the different types of cells.  Those who had no money had only straw, whereas those who could afford it, were given a cot with bedding.  They have also preserved the room where Marie Antoinette was once held.  What is interesting is that this place still houses the Paris Police.

Behind the Concierge and, I believe, part of the building was Sainte Chappelle. This is a beautiful old cathedral and the stained glassed windows are simply breathtaking.  That afternoon we traveled up to Montmartre.  There were several artists set up at the center of the square selling their paintings as well as drawing portraits.  After dinner we walked back down the hill and almost stopped into the Moulin Rouge.  On all my other trips we had been with high school students so going into this establishment was out of the question.  We were all adults, but some balked at the entry fee, which I can’t remember what it was, so we returned to our hotel.

Our last day in Paris was spent first at Versailles.  If I haven’t mentioned this before, this is one of my most favorite places on earth.  I have yet to visit here and been given enough time view every garden and building.  One day I will return and on that visit I already have three must sees as they have been missed.

1)     Ecole Militaire

2)     ALL of Versailles

3)     A Chocolate Walking Tour (though I did eat plenty of chocolate in France)

Our day ended in Paris with a visit to Tuileries Gardens.  The day was beautiful and it was nice to sit and relax and just take in the sights and sounds of Paris.

Have you ever visited Paris? What are your favorite spots?

Friday, July 19, 2013

JuJu and her sidekick, Death.

Apparently, I've honked off a God. Or a powerful witch. Something. 

I don't understand it--I'm such an inoffensive, sweet, timid gal.

Not a word.

The reason I suspect the diabolical is that this past week has been hell on greased wheels.


With no brakes.


First, I was driving down the road (as one does), minding my own business, when insistent buzzing sounded. Now, for those who aren't in the know, I'm a ninny when it comes to bugs. Especially the stingy, bitey kind.

I'd rather be shot.

Anyway, I rolled down the passenger window to let the little bleeper out. No problem. Until the window wouldn't roll up. On the off chance it was my controls, I asked my little girl to roll it up from the passenger side. Well. She's never sat up front before and only did so this time because it was a short trip down the road. And because of this lack of know-how, she rolled the window further down rather than up.

I'm not proud to say I yelled so loud she jumped half out of the car and burst into tears. So, upon arriving home, I had to contend with a uncooperative window and a catatonic child.

In the rain.

For two days. 

That was last Friday.
On Monday, my fridge started leaking on the kitchen floor. I don't mean a little piddle, either.

Get your suits, kids!

Hold up, ya'll. We're not done yet.

That same day, my washer dumped a full load of water all over the laundry room floor.

I took it pretty well.

So. It's now Wednesday. On the to-do list? Price a new fridge and washer. Starting out, I was kind of excited to replace a washer that has been giving me fits for a couple of years.

Will I miss watching it shimmy across the floor like Chubby Checker? No. I will not. 

Before we go shopping...

After we return ...
Clearly, something powerful is out to snuff me. Prayers, donations and liquor happily accepted.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Started You Reading

Please welcome back recurring guest blogger Aileen Fish

Most blog guest posts allow you to get to know the guest better, but I’m turning the tables today. I want to know about you, or more importantly, how we connect. If you frequent Lady Scribes or follow any of us on Facebook or Twitter, you probably love to read as much as we do.

Have you always been a reader? I have. My parents read more than they watched TV, which probably isn’t surprising for two people who grew up during the Depression and WWII. They loved mysteries to the point of being members of the Mystery Book Club. This probably explains the number of Nancy Drew books given to my sister and me.

Other than Nancy Drew, the only detective story I liked as a kid was “Harriet the Spy”. I preferred books with horses, dogs, or ghosts. Not scary ghosts that rattled chains and went, “boo”, but Miles Dibble, from the “Ghost of Dibble Hollow” by Mary Nickerson Wallace. I wanted my own ghostly friend! I guess there are just some things even Santa couldn’t bring, though. I had to settle for the book.

We had a few Dr. Seuss books, of course, along with Grimm’s, a Sendak, and another favorite, “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. (If you haven’t read this book, go now to Amazon or B&N and order it. Go ahead…I’ll wait…Got it? Cool, you’ll thank me!) And we had library cards, which was better than an AMEX gold card. Probably still is, to a lot of us!

What about you? What books were on your shelves? What books are you passing along to the next generation? I think it’s important to share our love of books with little ones. Before my granddaughter was born, she owned “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch and a collection of Sandra Boynton books including “Moo, Baa, La-La-La”. (My daughter says their dog howls all the way through “Doggies” when they read it aloud!) Hopefully my granddaughter will grow to love books as much as I do, so we can spend many fanciful hours sharing the tales we’re reading.

Aileen Fish is the author of The Bridgethorpe Brides series of Regency romances, The Devil’s Promenade series of sensual paranormal romances, and “The Lives of Jon McCracken”, a reincarnation romance.

Her next release is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. “A Pretense of Love” picks up the classic trope of a sham betrothal after the couple has gone their separate ways.

Blush sensuality level: This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

Twenty-two-year-old Jean’s best chance of finding a husband is behind her. When her brother’s friend offers to pay for a Season in London in exchange for pretending to be his betrothed, she sees it as a miracle.

Ben needs a fiancée in order to inherit his grandfather’s estate, but didn’t consider how spending six weeks with Jean would make her necessary to his happiness. Now she’s in London and he’s in agony. A gentleman never reneges on an agreement…unless his heart is broken.
A Blush® Regency romance from Ellora’s Cave

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What? What do you mean I'm like my mother!

I never thought I’d be the kind of mother that got all weepy when my child moved out of the house and went to college. In fact, when I was eighteen and my mom took me to college and spent the whole weekend crying because I was leaving her, I vowed I’d never be that kind of mother.

I’ve pretty much raised my kids with the philosophy that I want them to spread their wings and fly, even if it meant their flight took them on a path far away from me. Let me preface all this by saying my kids are still fairly young and a long way off from leaving me and going to college.

Last Wednesday, my oldest child went out of town for the first time without myself or my husband. He went with one of my oldest and dearest friends to the beach. He’s good buddies with her son, and they wanted to bring along a play mate for her son. My child was gone from Wednesday to Saturday night, and I mentally patted myself on the back by how unfazed I was by the whole thing.

Smugly, I thought to myself I am definitely never going to have empty-nest syndrome like my mother did. I am so cool with my kids growing up. The mental pats on the back ended Sunday night. Sunday afternoon after my child had been home less than twenty-four hours, I drove him to his first overnight camp where I left him to stay for a week.

He got a bit nervous before I left, but at the time, I was still copacetic. I told him he was going to have a fabulous time at the amazing camp and get to meet all sorts of new people and do all sorts of amazing new things. That’s what life is about-experience adventures!
I didn't realize until later that night when I was sitting alone in my living room and my husband and youngest child were in bed, that I too had started a new adventure and wasn't all together as unfazed about it as I thought I would be. With the house quiet, I realized I really missed my precocious older son. Sure he and his brother mock wrestle every day and drive me up the wall, and yes I swear he is entering smart-alack teenage years way before he’s actually a teenager, but I miss him.

My mind started turning. Is he having fun? Is he lonely? Did he make any friends or did he feel left out or excluded at dinner, at campfire, or in the cabin? On and on my mind went until I got misty eyed, and I realized this is the first taste of what my mom experienced all those years ago when she said goodbye to me and watched me walk away from her and toward my new life. Letting him go to the beach with my friend had been easy because my friend is like a sister. I knew she’d watch over my child exactly as I would. 

Letting him go to camp was a different story.

I think I know something now I never realized then. All those years ago my mom was crying for the loss of me, but she was probably also just plain old worried for me too. Was I going to be happy? Was I going to make friends? Was I going to make good grades or remember to never walk alone at night?
I feel like I’ll probably break that vow I made long ago to not get upset when my kids go off to college. Not because I won’t be able to handle missing them, I’ll manage somehow! I think the tears will come over worry! The world is a big, scary place sometimes and as a mom it’s my natural instinct to want to keep my babies close and protect them.

I know I can’t always keep my kids close, and truly I do want them to have grand life adventures. But I hope as the years pass between now and college, I can instill in them the strength to journey out, but the surety deep within that no matter how far they journey they’ll always be able to reach out and count on me. Somehow, through her tears, my mom left me with the assurance that she loved me enough to be sad that I was going, and that she loved me so much she wouldn’t want anything less than a grand, adventurous life for me.

This blog is dedicated to my mom, whom I called first thing this morning to tell her just how much I love her, how great she is, and how I luckily turned out to be more like her than I ever knew.

What about you? Do you have someone in your life you said you’d never be like, but then you realized you are like that person?

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm Not a Creeper, I'm a Writer

The Lady Scribes are pleased to welcome Suzan Butler as a featured blogger. Look for more from Suzan in the coming months and check out her newest release, No Strings Attached.

I have a confession. I'm totally spying on your conversations. In the coffee shop, in the line at the grocery store, on Twitter, Facebook, and especially at the bar. If you're talking, I'm listening. I could say it's just making sure I'm being realistic with my dialogue, but the real fact is I just find people interesting. In fact, I have perfected the art of listening without staring. I can zone in to a conversation at ten paced. I used to stare but when I finally asked a couple to raise their voices while they talked so I could listen and got the weird looks... I decided that listening without letting on would be a better plan. Yes, I know. I have no shame.

Years ago, my best friend at the time was going through a really bad break up. Her husband dumped her and broke her heart, leaving her with two little girls. She kept talking about how hard her life was, and how stressed she was. Then suddenly, she stopped talking. She looked at me,, frowning, and asked me, "You're not going to put this in a book, are you?"

Hehe. Of course not... for a couple years until she's put it way in the past. :D

Recently, I was talking to some readers at Lori Foster's Reader/Author Get Together about bar life, and it turns out... I'm not the only one who people watches. In fact, a group of us made up stories about people sitting at the bar. One man come in with one woman and left with another, leaving the first woman alone at the bar. A few minutes later, he reappeared with the woman he left with and yet a third woman. We had an entire story in about five minutes of watching that scene. Then there was the creepy old dude that spent his night drunk and hitting on every girl under thirty. 

It's likely that I'm probably son some FBI and NSA watch list for the people that I've interviewed in order to do my books. I do like to know some weird things. And when I was writing from the bad guy's point of view in my upcoming book, No Strings Attached, I had to look up sexist, charismatic speakers on YouTube, because they would do entire speeches on what they believe, and since I believe so opposite, I had a hard time getting into my bad guy's head on WHY he believed the way he did. And I even interviewed an ex-cartel member to make sure I had the details of my mafia mentality right.

But while that research is cool, the actual fun thing is conversation between everyday people. The best things that I overheard are almost always when people don't realize I'm listening in.

I love my job. I can sit around and listen in on people's conversation and claim it's research, and not just because it interests me.

So now my rationale is this: I'm not creepy. I'm a writer. It's what I do.

Are you a people watcher too?

Ashlynn Connolly has been Ethan Kearney's best friend since they were twelve, despite the different in their tax brackets. Though he played stupid pranks on her as a child, and left for a career in the Navy, Ash has always stood by him. But now Ethan has a deadline, and he's going to put their friendship to the test with a business proposition-a marriage proposal. 

If Ashlynn hadn't been flat-out broke , and about to ask for a loan from her best friend, she might have laughed at Ethan's proposal. But being laid off with a small child to care for alone changes one's perspective and the idea of being Ethan's wife is too much to turn down, and not just because of the money he offers.

Getting married is the simplest solutions to both their problems, or so it seems. But while the passion between them scorches the sheets, a shadow from Ash's past prepares to burn them more thoroughly than either ever expected.

Suzan Butler is a romantic fiction author with a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination. 

She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing books and planning her next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that's when it's quiet in the house. 

You can visit her at the following places:

If you'd like to receive news in your email about what Suzan's got going on, you can visit her website and sign up for her Mailing List

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cat Wrangling, or Adventures in Taking Two Cats to the Vet

Last week, I took my cats to the vet for their annual vaccines and check ups. It was quite the experience, let me tell you. Most non-cat owners might think to themselves, What's the big deal? It's just like going to the doctor, only involving cats.

But those of you out there who have ever owned a cat know that taking any cat to the vet is at best an exercise in frustration, and potentially an exercise in futility.

It's bad enough if I have to take one of the two, but can leave the other at home. But those days when I have to deal with both of them? Oh my. Let me just share the ordeal with you so you can get a better sense of my stress level.

My adventure starts about three hours before the visit to the veterinarian's office. That's when I get the cat carriers down from where I store them. (Yes, I've heard all the conventional wisdom about leaving the carriers out all the time, so they aren't scary for the kitties, and so they can explore and curl up and sleep in the torture devices. I don't have room for that.) Why three hours in advance? It takes about that long for the initial fear that comes from the carriers being down before my cats have calmed down enough they'll come out from wherever they are hiding.

As soon as they see the horrid things (and really, how scary are they?), both cats dart for the closest, deepest, darkest hiding spot they can find, and they stay there for as long as they believe it is necessary to avoid confinement.

While they're getting that out of their system, I move on to Phase Two.

What is Phase Two, you ask? That's where I organize all of the other required items and put them in a single, easy to get to location.

Included in Phase Two: Dakota's anti-anxiety medication, pill pockets to put the pill in, more treats, a laser light, pheromone spray for inside the carriers, and sometimes other toys (depending on just how freaked out the two cats are).

This time? They were Very Freaked Out.

An hour before the vet appointment, I have to give Dakota her anxiety medication. It's also a mild sedative, which we give her in the hopes that she won't bite another vet tech and in turn send the poor vet tech to the hospital. (Yes, this has happened. Dakota Does Not Like The Vet. For good reason, mind you. She's had more painful experiences at the vet in her two years than most cats have in a lifetime.)

With about 30 minutes to spare before the visit, I dose both carriers with some of the pheromone spray, to help keep the cats calm. It's not a miracle worker, but I can promise it helps some.

About 40 minutes after Dakota has been dosed up with anti-anxiety meds, I know I have to wrangle the cats. Kiki must be caught first, because if I start with Dakota, Kiki will have found a place to hide which I will NEVER get her out of. So, I lure Kiki out of hiding by shaking the treat bag, give her a couple of treats, and scoop her up before she wises up and darts away. Into the carrier she goes, and then it's off to snag Dakota.

As she gets older, Dakota is getting a little smarter about these things. Here's where I found her that day--under the bed, right next to the wall, pretty much directly in the center. The bed is a queen. There was NO WAY I could reach her in that position.

Hence the need for the laser light.

I broke that puppy out and got her to chase it. Sadly, even though her desire to play was strong she knew something was up, and so she didn't make catching her very easy. Lucky for me, she is still a little dumb about the places she chooses to hide from me most of the time.

Why do I say that? One of her favorite places to escape is into the bathroom. All I have to do is follow her in, close the door, and she's cornered.

Granted, I still have to carry her out of the bathroom and get her into the carrier, which more often than not means I end up with a few new scratches. (I later discovered that not only did I have a bunch of new scratches on my hands and arms, but my shirt had about a dozen cat claw sized holes. Note to self: Trim her claws about two days before the next vet visit, please. Kthxbai.)

But finally, I managed to catch both cats, get them in carriers, and take them to the vet.

See? Here they are.

We will not mention the horrified cat cries I am forced to listen to in the car the entire way to and from each vet appointment. It would hurt Kiki and Dakota's dignity to reveal such a thing.

Once we arrive at the vet, it's always up for debate as to which one we should start with: the scared but sweet cat (Kiki) or the scared but potentially mean cat (Dakota). Usually, Dakota is up first, so we can get her ordeal over with and put her back into the carrier. It's always amazing to me how easily they go in once we're at the vet, when it is a three-hour endeavor at home.

Here's Kiki in her carrier, trying to search out an escape route for once she's freed from her cage. She spends most of her time at the vet trying to make herself as small as possible, so hopefully no one will see her. It hasn't worked out for her yet, but she keeps trying.

 Maybe someday, Kiki. Don't give up.

Dakota, on the other hand, spends most of her time hissing and growling at vet techs, and then trying to escape.

This time, she seemed to think that no one would find her, despite her growling, as long as she hid under the bench.

Lucky me, I got to crawl down on the floor to pull her back out time and again, because she'd dart down there every time they finished with something.

At least she didn't bite anyone on this trip. Yay, Dakota! Progress.

We can only hope to have a similar result on each subsequent visit. Cross your fingers for us.

During Kiki's exam, they found a mass that was a little bit worrisome. Because of that, we had to do another test, and she wasn't allowed to get back into her carrier right away. That didn't stop her from trying to do precisely that, though.

When she couldn't figure out how to get into the first carrier, she tried the other one. Frankly, any carrier would do if it meant not getting poked and prodded any more.
Sadly for Kiki, she didn't find a way in before they came back to do her other test. We're still waiting on the results, but at least she got to come home afterwards. And, as long as the results are good and neither cat gets sick in the meanwhile, we don't have to go back for another vet visit for six months. Whew!

I think it's safe to say that all three of us will be glad of that.

Do any of you have any great ideas for how to make vet visits easier on my cats and me? Do dogs dread going to the vet as much as cats do? Anyone want to volunteer to come do it for me in six months?

Friday, July 12, 2013

COVER REVEAL of Off Course by Sawyer Bennett!

I'm super excited to be apart of the fabulous Sawyer Bennett 's cover reveal.

Bonus points if you can guess what Irish bar in Raleigh, NC was used!

Title: Off Course
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Expected release date: August 4, 2013
Genre:  Contemporary
Age Group:  New Adult
Cover designed by : Vitalink;  http://www.vitalinkweb.com/
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours; http://atomrbookblogtours.com

Book Description:
Renner Caldwell has her life perfectly mapped out. She has the ideal relationship, the perfect job and all is right in her world. When a shameful turn of events happens, she boards the first plane bound for Ireland to lick her wounds and get her head back on straight.

Cillian O’Braidagh is the sexy, front man to the Irish rock band, Over The Edge. His rising fame and sultry voice make him every woman’s fantasy come true. Not to mention his single-minded determination. To put it simply: what Cillian wants, Cillian always gets. And he wants Renner, because there’s just something about the flame-haired beauty he has to possess.

If their relationship was just about sex and rock n’ roll, it would be easy for them to get lost in their desires. Only their relationship is anything but a hook-up. Will lies, deceit and hidden tragedy get in the way, making the path to true love uncertain? Or will the girl whose been knocked Off Course, find her footing with the man who is teaching her it’s okay to lose control?

About the Author

USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn't have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Author social media links: