Wednesday, April 15, 2015

$100 #Amazon Gift Card #Giveaway! #Rafflecopter #amreading #Kindle

A short and sweet post, so you can quickly get to the "How to win $100" part.  A wonderful site called Great Books Great Deals is sponsoring a $100 Amazon gift card giveaway via a Rafflecopter.  There are lots of ways to enter...follow some of the authors on twitter or Facebook, plus download some sale-priced books to gain more entries to win.  Right now GULL HARBOR is one of the books that can gain you more entries, and it's only 99c...you get a page-turning read full of spooky suspense and steamy romance, along with more chances to win that gift card! Click the link below, scroll down to the Rafflecopter, and start earning some chances at the grand prize while you get some new books for your Kindle!  Good luck and happy reading:



Thursday, April 9, 2015

#99c Sale! Second Chance #Romance + Haunting #Suspense #99cents #Kindledeals

Starting today, my second novel GULL HARBOR will be on sale for two weeks only!  This combination of steamy romance and spooky suspense has topped the charts on Amazon as a #1 Bestseller on several occasions, so grab your copy while it's less than a buck!  The offer is available for both Kindle and Nook formats, and I've included the links below along with the book's description and an excerpt.  Treat yourself to some time on the sandy shores of Cape Cod, where both a dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium Claire Linden...


When Claire Linden’s job sends her to the sleepy town of Gull Harbor, she never expects to encounter her ex-boyfriend. As a medium, the prospect of tackling a haunted house is less daunting than seeing Max Baron again. Throughout their passionate college relationship, he promised to love her forever. Then, without explanation, he abandoned her on graduation day.

Max never intended to break Claire's heart—a cruel ultimatum forced him to disappear from her life. While he's shocked to find her in Gull Harbor, he isn't surprised by the bitter resentment she feels for him...or the fiery attraction that remains between them.

Claire is determined to rid her temporary home of its aggressive ghost, but Max soon realizes she's facing a danger beyond the paranormal. When Claire risks everything to help a desperate spirit, Max must race to save her—before another tragedy tears them apart forever.



An excerpt for you too!  This scene takes place after Max has brought Claire to watch the 4th of July fireworks:

Lights from her house welcomed them as they crossed through the wooded back yard.  “I guess I’m asking you to trust me, even though I know you’ve got no good reason to.”
He assumed he wouldn’t be getting a response by the time he followed her up the porch steps.  But she turned toward him outside the front door, looking somehow both fragile and strong in the velvet shadows.
“I do trust you.  I have no idea why, but I do.”
“Then I would call this a successful second date.”  He ran his fingers through her hair, cradling the sides of her face with his palms.  Tipping her lips up to his, he kissed her possessively.  The hunger inside him flared brighter, and he closed the distance between their bodies.
Backing her toward the house, he pressed her up against the door.  She returned his kisses with equal passion, moaning when he pushed his thigh between her legs.  Her fingers wandered to the front of his jeans, then hesitated, her nails grazing the skin of his abdomen.
He tore his mouth from hers reluctantly.  If he didn’t stop her now, there would be no turning back.  Bracing his hands against the door, he struggled against his body’s demands.  They would make love when Claire was ready, not before. 
“I should go,” he said, his voice rough.  Their breath mingled in short, quick gasps.  He lifted his head and locked his gaze with hers.
She could see desire in the depths of his dark blue eyes, but there was something else there, too.  Pain.  Her remaining doubts shattered and fell away.  Whatever this awful secret was, they would handle it—together.
“Stay.”
He held her captive, caged between his arms.  “You know what will happen if I stay.”
She nodded, her hair sliding against the door.  Unhooking her fingers from the waist of his jeans, she dipped her fingers into her own pocket to retrieve her key.  Silently she turned, unlocking the door.
Her legs trembled as she led him up the stairs.  Moonlight spilled through the windows, bathing her bedroom in a silvery glow.  He caught her wrist in the doorway, pulling her around to face him.
“Claire…before we go any further, you need to know something.  There’s a chance I may never be able to fully explain what happened five years ago.”
She studied his expression in the pale light of the moon.  He held her gaze, his hair falling across his forehead as he bent his head toward hers.  She brushed the strands out of his eyes, then trailed her fingers across the rough stubble under his cheekbones.
“But you’ll tell me if you can?”
“I promise.  But think about how you’ll feel if I can’t,” he said, releasing her wrist.
“Confused, I’m sure,” she murmured.  She gathered the fabric of his shirt collar and pulled it slowly over his head.  “But I don’t think it’s going to make me want you any less,” she added, dropping the shirt to the floor.

Visit the GULL HARBOR Pinterest Board too for a look at the settings and character inspiration.  Happy Reading!

Monday, April 6, 2015

DIVINE FALL #Giveaway! "Nail-Bitingly Good" #YA Paranormal #Romance

Who doesn't like free stuff?  You can win a copy of DIVINE FALL over at The Howling Turtle blogsite - click here to get to the Rafflecopter to enter!  Divine Fall is a "nail-bitingly good" YA Paranormal Romance with a sexy bad-boy hero you won't be able to resist!  Below is the blurb, and don't forget to enter the raffle and then check out Divine Fall's Pinterest Storyboard to see how I envision the characters and setting...and give your favorite picture a Like!


Revenge, Romance, and
a Rogue Fallen Angel...
After tragedy tears Jamie Brandt's life apart, her only goal is to finish high school so she can leave her small hometown behind. In the meantime, riding her horse is her main source of solace, until a mysterious stable hand shows up at the barn. There's something not quite right about the handsome new employee, and the more Jamie sees of him, the more determined she becomes to figure out what he's hiding.

Dothan Reed came to historic Huntsville, Maryland, for one reason--revenge. But his plan can't move forward until he finds the missing piece he needs to enhance his powers. As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan is not only weaker than full-blooded angels; his forbidden lineage makes him an outcast in both worlds. When he discovers Jamie is the key to locating an ancient weapon, he's forced to interact with a vulnerable human girl--a task that becomes more appealing with each encounter.

Jamie soon learns Dothan isn't the only one with a dark secret. Each new revelation further threatens her safety, and Dothan's betrayal shatters her heart. Forgiving him seems impossible, but the thought of turning her back on him is equally painful.

As their connection deepens, Dothan will have to make his own difficult choice: continue on his path of vengeance, or protect the girl he loves. And when Dothan's actions thrust Jamie into an unforeseen danger, he must seek the help of his enemy...or risk losing her forever.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday #Fitness 10 - Patellar Tendonitis Jumper's Knee

Since fitness is my other passion, I occasionally devote a blog post to that aspect of my life.  I've been teaching group fitness classes--mostly step aerobics but also Zumba and BodyPump--since I was 22 years old.  At the risk of allowing people to calculate my age, that makes it 24 years of teaching high impact classes with no breaks, with the exception of a few weeks around my two pregnancies.  So, it's safe to say my joints have taken a beating over such a long time of repetitive exercise.

Oddly enough, I've stayed mostly injury-free.  I may be old school, but warm-up dynamic stretching and static cool-down stretching are two elements I refuse to skip during class.  This helps to prepare muscles to perform and then releases tension after the workout.  Every once and a while I'll pull a muscle, but it's a rare occurrence, thankfully.

Tendons are a different story, however.  All those years of jumping around have led to something actually called "Jumper's Knee".  Both my knees are affected, at this point.  I could stop teaching and switch to some low impact workouts, but I love what I do.  After 24 years, I'm pretty good at it, and I have a large following of gym members who enjoy my classes.  Plus, cuing a class through an hour of complicated routines forces me to focus on one thing and one thing only: remembering what move comes next, and calling it out several beats before we do it.  This may sound stressful but it's actually almost like meditation for me.  Since I'm a writer, my mind is usually filled with plots and characters, scenes and dialog, twists and reveals, etc.  I tend to get wrapped up in my fictional world, and if things aren't going right there, I get very cranky and obsessive.  Writer's block is not something I handle well.  But if I'm teaching a class, I honestly cannot think of anything other than what I'm doing right at that moment.  It's a wonderful mental break, and that combined with the aerobic activity usually allows my mind to reset, which then allows my imagination to provide a solution to whatever's got me stuck.

So quitting isn't an option.  I have to manage my Jumper's Knee, which is technically known as Patellar Tendonitis.  The patellar tendon connects the patella, or kneecap, to the shin bone.  Inflammation and tiny tears result from repetitive actions and overuse.  In my case, it presents as an ache beneath the kneecap, especially upon bending the knee, and the sensation of weakness in the knee.  I should note here that I've been professionally diagnosed, and I've gone through x-rays, ultrasounds, and physical therapy for this condition.  Since I want to stay active--and keep my job--I use what I learned from both my doctor and PT to keep the condition under control.

Modification: I can no longer do a lot of high impact moves.  High impact essentially means both feet are off the floor at the same time.  Even if I'm instructing my class through these moves, I modify my own moves to protect my knees.  Half-jacks instead of full jumping jacks, lunges on the floor instead of off the step, a march around instead of a hop over the step, etc.  My class knows they have options as well, and they adjust high impact to low impact or vice versa as necessary.

This is the brace I use...it works
great for my needs.


Knee Support: Various types of knee braces are made for this condition.  They all wrap around the knee at the patellar tendon and support and compress the area.  At first, I used a single strap designed with a little rubber tube to cushion the patella and distribute the pressure.  Now, I use something that provides even more support and protection - a "multi-action" brace that wraps around the top of my knee as well as below and has a thick (adjustable) padded buttress to cradle my knee.  The ones I use are made by McDavid.

Shoe Inserts: Since my feet never hurt, it was a revelation to find out I now have flat feet.  Apparently, the arch can fall as we age, and when my doctor took a look at my feet, he noted the problem could very well be contributing to my knee pain.  Many athletic shoe stores now have machines that "map" your feet and pinpoint areas that need support.  I went immediately to have this done, and it turned out my fallen arches were resulting in pronation...which can throw off the alignment of the knees.  Now I put supportive inserts into my workout shoes, and it makes a huge difference.  The ones I like are New Balance Arch Support Insoles.

Ice and Heat: Immediately after class, I take five minutes to ice down my knees.  This reduces any inflammation in the area, controlling pain (for me) without the use of medication.  Hours later, I'll use heat in the form of a cloth bag I made filled with rice.  After microwaving it for about 2 1/2 minutes, I put my feet up (great excuse to take some time out to read!) and place the bag across my knees.  This helps bring blood flow to the area, stimulating healing.

These are the things that work for me, and allow me to continue staying active and doing a job I love...especially important since my other job requires a lot of time spent sitting in front of a computer.  If anything has worked for you, I'd love to hear about it!



  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Finding #Easter Day's Date + #Giveaway - Spring #LASRBlogfest #amreading





My post helps kick off the party
on March 30th!  Come join us!
Hop on over to Long and Short Reviews to celebrate the Spring Blogfest!  You'll find tons of spring- and Easter-related blog posts, along with giveaways and a chance to win a $25 gift card. My post gives some insight into why Easter's date fluctuates each year and how the date is actually calculated.  And if you leave a comment over there, you'll be entered into the drawing for a free e-copy of your choice of Gull Harbor, Silver Lake, or Divine Fall!  So come celebrate the season and enter to win all kinds of beach reads for those warm, sultry days ahead...they're coming soon, and I for one can't wait! Just click the link below to visit:

Finding Easter's Date Blogpost & Giveway on LASR



Treat yourself to some new reads this spring!
Steamy romance + spooky suspense =
page-turning entertainment!




Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ghosts + #Romance - Steamy #TeaserTuesday #amreading

I'm celebrating my second novel's second birthday with a little excerpt today. GULL HARBOR is both a steamy romance reuniting first loves as well as a suspenseful mystery involving a dangerous ghost.  It was also a #1 Kindle Bestseller in several categories!  Psychic medium Claire Linden is spending the summer in the seaside town of Gull Harbor in order to rid her temporary home of a destructive spirit. But she never expects to encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without a hint of an explanation on graduation day.  Five years have passed since then, and Claire's becoming aware there might be something more to Max's disappearance than she knows about.  This scene occurs on a night Max has taken Claire to watch the 4th of July fireworks:
  

Lights from her house welcomed them as they crossed through the wooded back yard.  “I guess I’m asking you to trust me, even though I know you’ve got no good reason to.”
He assumed he wouldn’t be getting a response by the time he followed her up the porch steps.  But she turned toward him outside the front door, looking somehow both fragile and strong in the velvet shadows.
“I do trust you.  I have no idea why, but I do.”
“Then I would call this a successful second date.”  He ran his fingers through her hair, cradling the sides of her face with his palms.  Tipping her lips up to his, he kissed her possessively.  The hunger inside him flared brighter, and he closed the distance between their bodies.
Backing her toward the house, he pressed her up against the door.  She returned his kisses with equal passion, moaning when he pushed his thigh between her legs.  Her fingers wandered to the front of his jeans, then hesitated, her nails grazing the skin of his abdomen.
He tore his mouth from hers reluctantly.  If he didn’t stop her now, there would be no turning back.  Bracing his hands against the door, he struggled against his body’s demands.  They would make love when Claire was ready, not before. 
“I should go,” he said, his voice rough.  Their breath mingled in short, quick gasps.  He lifted his head and locked his gaze with hers.
She could see desire in the depths of his dark blue eyes, but there was something else there, too.  Pain.  Her remaining doubts shattered and fell away.  Whatever this awful secret was, they would handle it—together.
“Stay.”
He held her captive, caged between his arms.  “You know what will happen if I stay.”
She nodded, her hair sliding against the door.  Unhooking her fingers from the waist of his jeans, she dipped her fingers into her own pocket to retrieve her key.  Silently she turned, unlocking the door.
Her legs trembled as she led him up the stairs.  Moonlight spilled through the windows, bathing her bedroom in a silvery glow.  He caught her wrist in the doorway, pulling her around to face him.
“Claire…before we go any further, you need to know something.  There’s a chance I may never be able to fully explain what happened five years ago.”
She studied his expression in the pale light of the moon.  He held her gaze, his hair falling across his forehead as he bent his head toward hers.  She brushed the strands out of his eyes, then trailed her fingers across the rough stubble under his cheekbones.
“But you’ll tell me if you can?”
“I promise.  But think about how you’ll feel if I can’t,” he said, releasing her wrist.

“Confused, I’m sure,” she murmured.  She gathered the fabric of his shirt collar and pulled it slowly over his head.  “But I don’t think it’s going to make me want you any less,” she added, dropping the shirt to the floor.

Continue the Story!






Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Series vs. Stand Alone #amwriting #amreading

My latest release, Divine Fall, has garnered many requests for a sequel as well as a prequel, and I'm thrilled about that.  It's truly gratifying to know that readers aren't done with my characters and want to stay in their world a bit longer--writing characters people care about is what it's all about.  While I've left the door open to possibly continue Jamie and Dothan's story, Divine Fall is very much a stand alone novel without a cliffhanger ending.  All my books are, in fact, and I think that has a lot to do with my own reading preference--which, not surprisingly, is for...you guessed it, stand alone novels!

In Divine Fall, the last Nephilim
will have to make a choice--
continue his quest for revenge, or
protect the girl he's grown to love.
Don't get me wrong--I do understand the appeal of revisiting characters you know and love.  And sometimes it makes perfect sense that the circumstances of the overall story arc will create enough action to keep characters fighting against plenty of conflict and tension. But a lot of the time, it doesn't, and things go south in terms of the plot.  Especially when writing romance, where the author has to keep the couple apart for a good portion of the time.  A content couple with no obstacles to overcome to achieve that happiness makes for a very boring storyline.  In my books, both the hero and the heroine have significant conflicts - both internal and external - keeping them apart.  I want the reader to be desperate for them to finally get together, and to be gratified when they finally earn their Happily Ever After.  Plus, I always throw in a climactic danger scene, because again, I like a plot that involves more than just complex emotions and character development.

Silver Lake and Gull Harbor
are both reunion romances
mixed with ghost stories.
So, after about 300 pages of sexual tension, spooky suspense, and shocking revelations, coupled with an edge-of-your-seat climax, I feel like my characters have had enough.  They deserve their happiness, and I want to give it to them.  Sure, I could find another way to rip them apart in Book 2, and then let them find their way back to one another once again...but honestly, how much more could I throw at these two people and still come across as believable?  Even though real life gets awfully complicated sometimes, fictional characters do tend to be burdened with more than their fair share of bad luck, family strife, damaging secrets, devastating betrayal, and life-or-death situations.  As a reader and a writer, I prefer believable scenes and events.  Even within the paranormal, it's important to me to have enough details and explanations to keep a supernatural element from veering too far out into left field.

Of course, there are exceptions.  A story about a detective or a private investigator, for example, easily lends itself to a series--the very nature of the job will thrust the main character into new danger, deceit, and mystery with each case.  Or a series that uses the same setting, family, clan, etc. as a connection, focusing on different main characters with each new novel as opposed to the same two main characters.  For example, fans of Whitney, My Love (which includes me) needed more of Whitney and Clayton, and Judith McNaught answered the call by creating the Westmoreland Saga.  Each book can function as a stand-alone, but characters are connected as relatives of the seductive Duke of Claymore, and we get to see brief appearances of beloved characters from previous novels, or in the case of A Kingdom of Dreams, ancestors dating back to 1497.

Only a few trilogies or sagas featuring the same main characters have truly kept my interest through the entire journey.  The Twilight Saga spanned four books, yet the conflict was strong enough, and the world-building intriguing enough, to keep me enjoying each new book.  Yes, I loved Twilight, and when an editorial reviewer said Divine Fall reminded her of Twilight, I was thrilled.

One of my absolute favorite books, The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, left me scrambling for the next in the series, Tatiana and Alexander.  I thought the second was nearly as good as the first, and the ending was perfect.  But then I went ahead and read the third, The Summer Garden, and I was so disappointed.  It was a strange combination of childhood flashbacks that went nowhere mixed with sad details of present day life, and one of the characters did something I hated.  Now, when I recommend The Bronze Horseman, I tell people to read the first two books and leave it at that!

Chime in - what do you prefer, stand alones, series, or both?  What are your favorites?  Why? Let's hear your opinion!