Journey to the Stars

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Did you ever stop and think what it would be like to live on a different world from Earth?  Not just an inhospitable one like Mars or a moon around Jupiter, but a world capable of supporting human life.  Trouble is, planets like those are light-years from us and to travel to another star system would take years, decades even.  Would you still sign up to go if given the chance?  I agree, it’s a big decision.

In my science fiction series, The Epherium Chronicles, I wanted to explore that possibility.  There are choices to be made—both good and bad—to make it happen.  The outcomes of those decisions will have severe repercussions.

One of the fun parts of writing Embrace, and the other novels in this series, was the creation of the characters.  My main character, Captain James Hood, is a brilliant commander, but a reluctant hero.  He’s been on the forefront of a lot of battles.  Despite his victories, there are combat decisions that continue to plague his mind.

For another character, I wanted to add something close to me.  My father suffers from Parkinson’s disease.  To honor his struggle, I used a nervous system disorder in the background of Lieutenant Maya Greywalker.  Maya is one of three surviving subjects from a genetics experiment to cure a disease similar to Parkinson’s.  The results of the experiment left her with augmented abilities.  I’ve had long conversations with readers about my characters, and besides Hood, Maya Greywalker is always a topic.

It’s been a great experience creating Embrace and I’m excited for readers to enjoy it as well.

The Epherium Chronicles: Embrace

Book one of The Epherium Chronicles

Hope. Captain James Hood of the Earth Defense Forces remembers what it felt like. Twenty-five years ago, it surged through him as a young boy watching the colony ships launched by mega-corporation Epherium rocket away. He, like so many others, dreamed of following in the colonists’ footsteps. He wanted to help settle a new world—to be something greater.

Then came the war…

Hope. During years of vicious conflict with an insectoid alien race, it was nearly lost. Though Earth has slowly rebuilt in the six years since the war, overcrowding and an unstable sun have made life increasingly inhospitable. When mysterious signals from the nearly forgotten colony ships are received, Hood is ordered to embark on a dangerous reconnaissance mission. Could humanity’s future sit among the stars?

Hope. Hood needs it now more than ever. As secrets about the original colonists are revealed and the Epherium Corporation’s dark agenda is exposed, new adversaries threaten the mission, proving more dangerous to Earth than their already formidable foes…

 

T.D. Wilson

T.D. Wilson was born in 1968 in Troy, Ohio and has been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy from a very young age. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has supported the systems and networks in several of the largest Supercomputing data centers in the world. His early thirst for adventure in reading began as he explored many of the great stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As his reading scope expanded, Mr. Wilson was fascinated by strange new worlds from the magical of Middle Earth and Narnia to the far reaches of space in Star Trek and Babylon 5. As a science fiction author, he strives to integrate a realistic flavor to his worlds by providing his readers a feel for the real science in science fiction. A topic he loves to discuss with his friends and readers. Mr. Wilson still lives in Ohio with his wife and their two sons.

Connect with T.D. Wilson – Facebook | Twitter | Blog

 

Big Bad Wolf?

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Close your eyes for a minute. No, wait, don’t, because you’re reading my blog post and one presumes you want to keep doing so.

Pretend to close your eyes for a moment while reading this blog post and whisper to yourself, “Werewolf hero.”

What kind of image does that conjure?

A hot, sexy bad boy in leather, riding a motorcycle when he can’t run free in the forest? A gruff and hyper-masculine pack alpha determined to keep his people safe and in line? A borderline vicious anti-hero trying to control his literal inner demon? Somebody big and strong and scary enough to make anybody weak at the knees?

What about a nerdy scientist more interested in the biology and magic of the shifting process than howling at the moon and finding a mate?

I know, right? But even in wolf world, it seems like it would take all kinds. You need your alphas and your brooders and your sexy bad boys. But why wouldn’t wolves be scientists and dreamers and artists and, heck, grocers and accountants and nice male nurses (like in the SyFy TV show Being Human)?

They can…in my shifter world.

Marcus Delgado is a werewolf and a scientist. He’s a sexy scientist, of course, at least according to witch-in-hiding Katie Zhang, whom he encounters in the beginning of WITCH INTERRUPTED, my second book with Carina. It’s a paranormal romance set in the same world as PACK AND COVEN, where the speculative elements include wolves (shapeshifting) and witches (magic).

In fact, Marcus, because of certain events in his past, is obsessively curious about why witches change permanently into werewolves when they—spoiler alert for PACK AND COVEN!—have sex with one. However, wolves can never change into witches or obtain the magical powers and longevity of witches. Marcus is determined to find out why, and he decides Katie is the perfect person to assist him…whether she wants to or not.

The intelligence, focus and dedication of a less traditional hero like Marcus made him a very appealing character to write about and hopefully one for readers to meet. So many of the characters who tend to linger with me aren’t necessarily the alphas and the swashbuckling heroes. The clever, background characters, the scientists, the tech gals, the ones without bulging muscles and multiple guns and overriding need to control whatever disaster is going on around them—I remember those characters, too. I love watching them blossom when the story centers on them instead of the obvious alphas.

They’re complicated, layered, and surprising. And they’re smart. I just adore smart!

TV examples include: Simon Tam from Firefly; both Willow and Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1; Monroe and Rosalie in Grimm; and Chuck Bartowski from Chuck and his predecessor, Jake from Jake 2.0.

There are countless examples of these types of characters in literature and cinema, usually relegated to sidekicks or secondary characters. As an author, I get to make them the protagonists and find out what really makes them tick.

Who are your favorite brainy badasses and nerdy but awesome characters in books and TV?

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Purchase WITCH INTERRUPTED at Carina Press.

About Jody Wallace:

WEBSITE | MEANKITTY | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | PINTEREST

Bittersweet Joy — Not Just A Great Name For A Truffle

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Almost a year ago I released A Fine Romance, featuring a chocolatier hero. I spent quite a few months dreaming up interesting truffle flavor combinations for his book. And since it was only number two in my Aisle Bound series, I couldn’t stop once it came out. More of his delicious truffles had to be dreamed up for the ensuing books (in case you’re wondering, I envision the Bittersweet Joy truffle as a dark chocolate and Chambord combo).

9781426897955_MatchlessRomanceBut this week I am full of the actual emotion of bittersweet joy, for it is the release of A Matchless Romance, the fourth and final book in the Aisle Bound series. Bitter at the thought of no more research about chocolate for me (sigh). Worse yet, it means saying goodbye to a cast of characters whom I love. A world that quite literally changed my career.

I’ll miss Ivy, the romance-a-holic heroine who started the whole thing. I’ll pine for Gib, my unapologetic yet wholly reformed man whore who makes everything a little bit sexier with his British accent. I’ll miss spotlighting the gloriousness of all my favorite spots in Chicago, from the iconic Wrigley Field to the beauty of Buckingham Fountain and the Italian restaurant where my husband and I shared so many terrific, five course wine dinners.

And I’m joy filled, because I’m beyond excited to share this release with the world. As the final book in the series, A Matchless Romance revisits everybody, ties up every loose end. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it is a thoroughly funny and sexy story all on its own. Not to mention accidentally topical, as it features a medal-winning athlete as my hot-yet-nerdy video game designer. When I wrote it, I had no idea it would come out during Sochi—but I’m sure not complaining! Witty banter? Hot sex? Heartfelt connection? It has all those things, just like the other three books in the series—as will the next trilogy, which I’ve already begun to write.

Yup, I have to remind myself that there will be more books—just not a part of this wonderfully wacky wedding-planning crew. There will be more characters and love and laughter. In fact, I’m already crazy about this whole new crew of tight-knit friends that you’ll get to meet in June, when book one in the Shore Secrets series comes out. Which means writing is a lot like life. You connect with some awesome friends, and then life tugs you in a new direction.

But this week I am going to whimper, just a little at having to say goodbye.

Purchase from Carina Press

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Stalking For Ideas

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When I first decided to delve into the world of New Adult stories, I was hit with the usual fear that strikes most writers: What the heck am I going to write about? But then I remembered something I once read. When we think of stalkers, the names of celebrities such as Jodi Foster, David Letterman, Selena Gomez, and Steven Spielberg come to mind. But they aren’t the only ones at risk; we all are, and even more at risk are college-aged students.

Perfect, I thought. I can write about stalking. Except in Tell Me When, I decided to focus on what happens after the stalker is caught. Even if he is caught and locked away for life, you’re still left with the memories of what happened, which can often be traumatic.

Another reason I decided to write about stalking was because it happened to me, in university, like the statistics claim.

I met the guy at a nightclub while my friends were dancing. He seemed nice enough and we started talking, but I really wasn’t into him. He was just someone to entertain me while my friends were busy. At the end of the evening, he asked for my phone number and I made my first mistake. No, I didn’t give it to him. I gave him a fake number. I figured he would get the hint that I wasn’t interested if he tried it. Recently I learned that if you give a stalker any number—fake or not—it makes him think you’re interested.

Mistake #2 was telling him where I worked. You’re probably groaning now, wondering why I did that if I wasn’t interested; I’ve often wondered the same. Apparently my mouth and my brain weren’t communicating very well that day. I don’t even remember telling him where I worked, but he showed up one day. Not only that, he applied for a job there just so he could be near me. Is there anyone here who doesn’t think that’s creepy?

While researching the topic of stalking for Tell Me When (and freaking myself out), I talked to several of my writer friends. Turns out I wasn’t the only individual with a story about how they’d been stalked in high school or college. Fortunately for most, the stalker moved on, but this isn’t always the case. For some victims, the stalking can become deadly for the victim or her loved ones. This is why prevention is the key to avoiding the situation to begin with.

Have you or someone you know ever been stalked? Do you know what to do to avoid becoming a target?

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. For more information, check out the Stalking Awareness Website.

 

Tell-Me-When-cover

Amber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class.

She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.

But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.

When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her—and Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.

 

First chapter can be found on website.

Stina 1 Born in England, Stina Lindenblatt loves to travel and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She spent a semester in graduate school living in central Finland, and a summer during her undergrad degree working in Helsinki. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina is a photographer, mother of three adorable kids, and devoted wife.

She currently lives in Calgary, Canada, and can be found on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Giveaway:  I’m giving away two Amazon gift cards ($25 and $5) and a beautiful, heart-shaped locket keychain. You get extra entries if you answer the question (in the comments). Or you can just say ‘hi’.

 

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Random Inspirations

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 photo CARINA_9781426897733_TheChangeUp_zpsc9a96b2d.jpg After completing The Changeup, one of the first things anyone asked me was, of course, “What is it about?” I don’t know about other authors, but that is a dreaded question for me because I, at times, can be verbose—I frequently have to warn people at work that my emails are running novel-length with a “Don’t read on your BlackBerry!” notice in the subject line. Eventually, I get something out (hopefully without a lot of stammering), there’s a pause, and then the next question, “How did you come up with that?”

So, how did I come up with the story for The Changeup? What inspired me? Inspiration is defined by Merriam-Webster as “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create.” It can be anything—a song, a picture, a conversation, a movie—anything.

What gave me the idea? Well, here it is, and I’ll admit, it was pretty random.

One summer, I had the brilliant idea of gathering all of the girls in my immediate family for a weekend up north (that would be eight females in total, some being mother/teenage daughter pairs, in one house, for two days straight…yeah, brilliant, Rhonda). You see, in my family, all there was were girls for a long while. I have two sisters and so poor dad was stuck in a house with four of us. My sisters started having kids and sure enough, the first four were girls. Then, FINALLY came a BOY. At first, we didn’t know what to do with him. We sat him on the floor as we stood around studying him, waiting for him to BE DIFFERENT.

“What does he do?”

“Is he supposed to be doing that?”

“Why is he just lying there?”

Eventually, we realized, apart from the obvious, there really wasn’t much difference between a boy and girl baby and we all went on our ways. Lo and behold, two more boys came afterward.

Anyway, I digress. Back to my brilliant idea. So, we packed up the cars and made the trek up north. While up there, we had on Detroit Tiger’s baseball (if there’s a game, it’s on a TV or the radio in this family), and as we were watching one of the Tiger pitchers do his thing, one of my nieces turned to me and said, “He’s really hot.” I happened to agree, but that’s not really important. Later on, after dinner and adult drinks (as well as non-adult beverages for those not of proper age) had been had, the same niece as earlier stated how she could envision marrying a man like my husband because, “He’s fun.” One of my sisters then said, “Ooooh! Watch out! She’s gonna steal your hubby,” and that was it. It clicked in my head all at once…niece dating a baseball pitcher, older aunt meets him, there’s instant attraction, older woman/younger man…The Changeup!

So, talk to me. From where do you draw inspirations in your life?

About the Book
Playing for keeps

After nine years of striking out in the dating department, Maddie Hamlin is throwing in the towel. But just as this mom resolves to remain single, she meets sweet and sexy pitching phenom Chase Patton at a family dinner. He’s perfect for her—aside from the fact he’s only twenty-two.

Chase knows he should be focusing on his rookie year with the Detroit Rockets, but he can’t stop thinking about Maddie. He doesn’t care that the beautiful school counselor is twelve years older, and he’s already lost his heart to her adorable daughter. When an incredible date leads to an incredible night of passion, he knows he never wants to let her go.

But dating in the media spotlight is a whole new ball game. Maddie quickly discovers that not everyone accepts their unconventional relationship—and that finding love may mean losing everything else…

About the Author
After writing one mind-numbing technical document after another, Rhonda Shaw decided to combine her love of writing with her love of reading romance. Born in California, but transplanted to the Midwest, Rhonda is a warm weather girl to the bone. She works in the software development industry and was a lifelong dancer until her body told her it was time to come down off her toes.

For more information about Rhonda and her books, please visit her website.  Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook.

How Hot is Too Hot?

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Some people like their romance sweet, some readers like the characters to steam up the page. I’ve written a lot of romance, much of it erotic. There’s not a lot of sexual content I shy away from. I’ve published over 50 books and novellas, and each one has had at least a few fairly explicit sex scenes. But what does a writer do when sex just doesn’t fit the book?

In Ashes & Alchemy, I decided not to force it. Even though morals are a little different in my steampunk version of 1960, my hero, Seb, is still a gentleman, through and through. He not only falls in love with Minnie, the heroine, but he also respects her deeply. Minnie, mind you, doesn’t necessarily agree with this waiting business. She’s not an innocent young maiden—she’s a mother, after all. But she’s had a rough life and Seb’s out to prove that he considers her just as special as any diamond-studded debutante. So…no sex until after they’re married.

I had a choice. I could tweak Seb’s character and have him give in. It’s a novella, so it’s not like there’s room for much extraneous fooling around. Or, I could wait until the very end to slip in a little heat. Since I fell so deeply in love with Seb on my own, there was no way I was going to weaken his resolve. In this case, the characters won the battle. Seb and Minnie will have the rest of their lives together to heat up the sheets. I hope my readers aren’t too disappointed they’ll only get a taste.

So tell me, what would you prefer, as a reader or writer? Stick with the author or series’ standard heat level, or follow the characters and the story? I did struggle with this question and would genuinely love to know your opinions, since I’m sure it’ll happen again. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy my peek at how the middle class lives in the world of the Gaslight Chronicles.

Ashes & Alchemy
Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and All Romance e-Books.

London, 1860
Police inspector Sebastian Brown served Queen and country in India before returning to England to investigate supernatural crimes alongside the Order of the Round Table. If his wifeless, childless life feels a little empty sometimes, that’s not too great a price to pay in the name of duty.

Minerva Shaw is desperately seeking a doctor when she mistakenly lands on Sebastian’s doorstep. Her daughter Ivy has fallen gravely ill with a mysterious illness—the same illness, it seems, that’s responsible for taking the lives of many of Ivy’s classmates.

Seb sniffs a case, and taking in Minnie and Ivy seems the only way to protect them while he solves it. But as mother and daughter work their way into his heart and Seb uses every magickal and technological resource he can muster to uncover the source of the deadly plague, it’s he who will need protecting—from emotions he’d thought buried long ago.

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Contest: a Rafflecopter giveaway  Win a custom piece of steampunk jewelry or pocket watch from The Spectra Nova. Enter again by following my Bewitching Book Tour over the next two weeks!

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Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. An award-winning author of 18 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons, a granddaughter and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Connect with Cindy on Facebook, Twitter, or her website and sign up for her newsletter group!

Mystic Cove, a lovely place for a murder

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 photo Mesunglasses316x3782_zpscc38bad5.jpg

“This would be a great place for a murder!” I blurted.

From the set of gaping mouths and popping eyes, I realized I’d spoken out loud. Only my husband, who knows me too well, had no reaction.

“Well, it is,” I said with a grin.

Let me backtrack.

I’m Daryl Anderson, and today is the release date for my debut novel Murder in Mystic Cove. I’m tremendously excited of course, but also more than a little nervous. In fact, I feel like an overprotective mother who has just watched her little darling board the school bus for the first time.

Separation anxiety aside, this milestone in the life of my book is an occasion for looking back at the beginning.

A couple of years ago, I’d decided to try my hand at writing a mystery, but was having trouble getting started. I had the main pieces. My sleuth Addie Gorsky was a homicide detective who had thought she’d seen the last of murder. The killer was crafty as a wolverine, and as dangerous. The victim was an old misanthrope by the name of Mel Dick. I’d even worked out that the sole witness to Mel’s violent end was his beloved dog Mr. Jinks, an old pug with a flatulence problem and a flair for fashion.

But somehow the parts wouldn’t come together. It was like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with a vital piece missing. And then something happened.

My sister-in-law invited my husband and me on a family outing. No big deal, but her destination of choice was an upscale retirement community in north central Florida. I didn’t get it.

“I don’t get it,” I told my sister-in-law. “What’s the big deal?”

“They have a great town center—it looks just like a village in New England! You’ll love it!”

I was less than enthusiastic, but I piled into my brother-in-law’s minivan with the others. And who knew? Maybe it would clear the creative cobwebs.

When the van turned into the town center, I sat up and took it all in. It was a beautiful, if warm, afternoon in late spring. The clouds were marshmallow fluff in a pale blue sky. The Florida sun was laser bright. I had to admit—the place shone like a shiny bauble.

Riotous blooms of white oleander and pink bougainvillea lined clean streets. Neat brick buildings harkened to an earlier century. Throngs of pedestrians tried to keep out of the way of the tricked-out golf carts that darted along the clean streets like crazed Jesus bugs. An artificial paradise—Disney World for the older set.

I wondered what would happen if a murderer set up shop in a place like this upscale retirement community. Wouldn’t that be fun? Wouldn’t that be a lovely place for murder?

As you’ve probably guessed, that’s when I made my ill-considered comment about murder. It was also the precise moment when my novel became real.

That brief visit to the  provided me the spark I’d needed, and within a week I was writing the novel that would become Murder in Mystic Cove. The characters that had been banging around inside my head found a cozy home in the murderous town of Mystic Cove, a place of darkness and light, where a serial murderer kills with impunity until…

But I’ve said enough for now. Let me know what you think about Mystic Cove. Do you agree that it’s a lovely  place for a murder?

Paradise looked the same as it had beforepeople walked the sidewalks, golf carts buzzed and the sunlight dazzled. But appearances deceived. There was a serpent in paradise and last night it had slithered from its hidden place and struck, bringing death to Mel Dick.

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 Available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Daryl Anderson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived most of her adult life in Florida. She lives off a dirt road just outside of Gainesville with her husband and their two spoiled dogs, Fera and Sally. When not plotting murder, Daryl enjoys gardening, vegetarian cooking, and cycling.

Connect with Daryl at her websiteTwitterFacebook, Tumblr and Goodreads.

Magic and Mysticism in Marfa

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Magic, mysticism, and wee ghosties that go bump in the night have always fascinated me. I was recently reminded of a traumatizing high school incident concerning a Ouija board. Whoa! Some things need to stay in the dark. I’m more into movies like Practical Magic, the TV series Charmed, and books from authors like Sarah Addison Allen. The magic is white and the good guys always win. And that’s how I chose the setting for my first Carina Press book, Beyond Texas.

Marfa (aka Mirage) is a small town in far West Texas that’s famous for the mystical lights that have been dancing across the desert as long as people have inhabited the area. Tourists, scientists, ranchers, and skeptics of all ilk have reported seeing the colorful orbs that appear in uninhabited and difficult area to access. The lights span the color spectrum and occur randomly regardless of the weather. They’ve been explained as swamp gas (in a desert), car lights (in 1883), ball lightening (I’ll give them that one), UFO’s, and the spirit of Apache ancestors. They’ve been known to zoom across the desert and whip back almost as if to entice viewers to follow them. Whatever the cause or the description, the miracle lights tantalize our imagination. Personally, I like to think of them as a friendly reminder that not everything is explainable.

Have you ever had an experience that didn’t quite fit what we call reality, that didn’t adhere to the rules of physics, that made you wonder—be it a feeling, a glance, a sound that seemed out of place?

Let’s chat about your otherworldly experiences.

Mysticism isn’t the only reason I chose Marfa (Mirage) as the setting for Beyond Texas. A small town in far West Texas seems an unlikely place to be on the cinematic map, but that’s exactly what happened when a famed producer made the Academy Award-winning movie “Giant” in the 1950′s. From that auspicious beginning Marfa was featured in such mainline films as “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood.” And believe it or not, a town with a population of 1,900 now sponsors an annual film festival. Throw in the mix the fact that Marfa has a military history dating back to the Mexican Revolution, and I had the perfect place for my hero and heroine’s romantic adventure. My heroine, Twinkie Sue Carmichael refers to the desert of West Texas as a part of her soul—a place where the blues, and pinks and yellows of sunrise melt together like an Impressionist painting.

Check out this YouTube video. Even though the cars are vintage, it is an entertaining introduction to Marfa and the lights.

 

About the Book

BEYOND TEXAS

There’s no place like Texas, and there’s no one like a Texan!
A budding entrepreneur, Twinkie Sue Carmichael is the co-owner of the Clown Motel in Mirage, Texas, a town known for the mystical lights that dance across the desert. As mayor, Twinkie is concerned about the shenanigans at nearby Fort Huacha, a redundant military facility that’s now the home of the Brotherhood. Why are pregnant teens being held at the fort? And what can she do about it when her witness is reluctant to go to the police?

A former drug agent, Cole Thornton arrives in Mirage looking for his kidnapped sister. He suspects she’s at the fort but he can’t prove it.

As they form a partnership to investigate the Brotherhood, Twinkie’s hormones and internal alarm go on high alert. Is this good-looking guy who he seems? In this fast-paced adventure Cole and Twinkie fall in love (and lust) surrounded by an eccentric cast of characters, from her cohort of girlfriends to her sheriff ex-husband. And from Cole’s high-powered family to his former drug cop partner. Not to mention his missing sister, a group of pregnant teens and a houseful of retired hookers.

As the Brothers and an assortment of other bad guys soon discover, you’d better not mess with a Texan!

 

Click here to buy Beyond Texas from Carina Press!

 

 

A Tidbit to Entice You

“Look what that no-good wind blew in now,” Jessie Roy mumbled. “She-et, old Beelzebub really does have it in for us.”

A lot of folks shared his pessimism. In her dual duties of town mayor and vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, Twinkie had assumed the job of head cheerleader, but even her optimism had its limits.

First, they’d endured the media circus surrounding the crazy polygamist cult that had spilled over from the adjacent county, and now they were in the middle of a ball-busting, ground cracking drought the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression. It was so bad the Baptists had resorted to sprinkling rather than their usual dunking.

Mama scampered over to unlock the door. “We have a customer.” Wave a dollar bill in her face and she morphed into Silly Putty.

Twinkie watched as the rider dismounted and took off his helmet. His Hog wasn’t any run-of-the-mill Harley. This guy rode a low-slung custom Blackline with polished chrome and red flame racing stripes.

The man strolled in the lobby oozing testosterone. With hair the color of midnight and a five o’clock shadow, he had the bad boy persona down pat. Please God, her eyes weren’t bugging out.

“Thank you, ma’am.” He nodded to Mama. “It’s a treat to have such a lovely concierge,” he said as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m glad I found a place to stop. That storm’s a real b…bad devil.”

Twinkie had always been a sucker for broad shoulders, and those biceps–well, let’s just say that a Texas Cowboy T-shirt with the sleeves ripped out had never looked so good. Faded jeans encasing very long legs and an impressive ass completed the picture. At least that was her impression until he took off his mirrored aviator sunglasses and she discovered he had eyes the color of          Mama’s sapphire ring. Oh boy, the big bad wolf had just rolled into town!

Jesse Roy pulled out his cell ready to punch in Dan’s number. “I’m definitely calling the sheriff.”

“We don’t sic the law on our customers.” Twinkie took a deep breath to regulate her breathing. Lord in heaven, she hadn’t clapped eyes on anyone like him in a month of Sundays.  “That’s not a good business model.” Actually, the only business she had on her mind was monkey business. She hated to admit it, but she hadn’t enjoyed as much as a kiss in six long months. That had to be the reason her lust-o-meter had just rocketed into the stratosphere.

 

About Ann

Ann writes romantic adventures served with a big dollop of humor. She likes sassy heroines and tough, but tender, heroes. As a fifth generation Texan she loves to set her books in the Lone Star state. Beyond Texas is her first Carina Press book (look for the sequel in the summer of 2014). An award winning author, Ann is a two-time Rita finalist and has written nine novels and one novella for Harlequin American and Everlasting. You can connect with Ann at her website, her Facebook and her Twitter feed.

She loves to hear from her readers. Connect with Ann on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or her website!

Holiday Gifts from the Heart

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When a gift comes from the heart, its worth always exceeds its value. We asked the three talented authors of the recently released anthology All I’m Asking For what they think is the most romantic gift to give (and receive!).

 

Christi Barth – Tinsel My Heart

If you’ve read any of my books, it’s obvious I like to drench myself—and my characters—in romance. So for me, the most romantic Christmas gifts are sentimental. Something to commemorate your love and your life together. An ornament secretly purchased over the summer while at your favorite vacation spot. A photo collage from each of your anniversaries.

No spoilers, but there’s a gift (okay, it might be an ornament) at the end of Tinsel My Heart that’d wring tears from Scrooge himself! The gift should make your heart flutter when you buy it, and again when he opens it.

Becca Huntley’s produced the Lyndale Park Player’s over-the-top Christmas pageant for ten years. The beloved Minneapolis tradition is the theatre’s main fundraiser. But this year’s production is almost canceled when their director disappears into rehab at the last minute. Good thing his directing partner steps in to save the day. Except for the minor fact that he hates everything about Christmas.

Connect with Christi on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website!

 

Brighton Walsh – Season of Second Chances

My husband and I have been together a long time (this’ll be our 20th together!) so it gets difficult finding something unique and romantic when gifting. Last year, we had the stipulation that one item had to be homemade (we didn’t, however, stipulate who it had to be homemade by). As such, he got me a handmade necklace with a quote from Wuthering Heights: “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” It’s one of my favorite gifts he’s ever gotten me. My advice on gifting romantically? When in doubt, gift from the heart.

When a storm strands Claire Hanlin in Chicago on Christmas Eve, the last person she expects to come to her rescue is Logan Dawes, the man she almost married two years ago. The chemistry between them is dangerously potent, but with nowhere else to go, Claire accepts Logan’s offer to stay with him for the night.

Connect with Brighton on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website!

 

Kat Latham – Mine Under the Mistletoe

The best romantic gifts are the ones that have special memories attached or that give you a chance to create new memories together in the future.

My husband and I met when we were both living in Prague, in the Czech Republic. It’s one of the world’s most romantic cities. For our first Valentine’s Day, he gave me a stunning book of black-and-white photos of the city. Eight years after we moved away, I still have that book.

Since my birthday is in January, for Christmas he sometimes gives me travel reservations so we can go away together and start the year making new memories.

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Connect with Kat on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her website!

 

All I’m Asking For: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology

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Put love on your wish list

This Christmas, the producer of a small-town holiday spectacular is swept away by a handsome Hollywood director. Being stranded in a snowstorm offers a couple a second chance at a future together. And an American in London helps a brooding Brit put the ghosts of Christmas past behind him. Wherever you are, however you celebrate, this collection of three festive novellas will bring warmth to your holiday season.

Edited by Angela James.

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Holiday Date Night

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Once the presents are wrapped and the Christmas tree is aglow in festive lights, the magic of the holidays surrounds us. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with those you love. We asked the three talented authors of the newly published anthology For My Own what their ideal holiday date night would include, and here are their responses:


Shari Mikels - Christmas Curveball

My ideal holiday date night would start off with a six o’clock showing of The Nutcracker ballet. We’d have seats close enough to see the exertion of the dancers, but far enough away to take in the entire stage at once. Afterward, we’d have dinner at a restaurant featuring a live jazz band softly playing holiday tunes in the background as to not overwhelm the diners. And finally, we’d go to a little desserts-only shop that bakes specialty cakes by day and opens its doors to theater and concert-goers at night for a sweet treat to end the evening.

When newly single Rachel Tanner finds out that pro pitcher Kevin Ganlin has come home to recover from an injury, her heart skips a beat. She’s loved him from afar since her preteen years, never bold enough to let him know.

Connect with Shari on TwitterFacebookTumblrGoodreads, and her website!

 

Alison Packard - A Christmas For Carrie

My ideal holiday date would start with an early evening sleigh ride with my sweetie. Snuggled together under a warm blanket, we would sip hot cocoa and gaze at the stars until our driver delivered us to our destination: a cozy bed & breakfast where we are the only guests. After a romantic candlelight dinner for two, we’d sit in front of a roaring fire, listen to holiday music and forget about everything and everyone except each other.

The very thought of Christmas is enough to darken Carrie Jones’s day. “Jingle Bells” and eggnog? Not for this girl; not anymore. But running into a handsome old crush might make this year different…

Connect with Alison on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website!

 

Kinley Cade - Kissing Her Scrooge

The most romantic holiday date to me is for sure in Kissing Her Scrooge. In the book it’s over a series of different dates, but combine them and that’s the ultimate fantasy: Hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows; a tree lighting ceremony; twinkly lights; connecting with family and friends; and spending time with someone you love. Realizing that person you love knows you better than anyone else.

The holidays are a romance waiting to happen. I’m really glad I got to write one.

Every Christmas, Hannah Jones makes it her mission to give her hometown the perfect pageant. Even malfunctioning inflatable Santas and lost students can’t stop the self-proclaimed Miss Holiday. But the teacher may have met her mismatch in sexy but antisocial tree farmer Griff Green. Hannah’s been lusting after her new neighbor for months—and she’s determined to melt his heart by being naughty as well as nice…

Connect with Kinley on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her website!

For My Own: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology

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Snowy days and steamy nights

This year, a modern-day Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas with the help of a suddenly sexy old friend. A down-on-his-luck baseball star finds a beautiful new beginning with a hometown girl. And a prim-and-proper teacher is determined to bring out the holiday spirit in a grumpy tree farmer. Settle in for the season with this collection of very merry short fiction.

Edited by Angela James.

Stories also available for purchase separately.