Friday, April 24, 2015

DIVINE FALL recommended for fans of #TheMortalInstruments! #YA #99c

Every once and a while, I google my books, to see if any new reviews show up.  A wonderful surprise popped up the other YA Paranormal Romance, DIVINE FALL, received a fantastic review from BTS Book Reviews, with a prominent spot in the Young Adult/New Adult section of their e-magazine!  While I'm linking the entire review below, I'll pull my two favorite quotes from reviewer Sasha Hibbs:

"This delicious YA novel was filled with love, rich in history, suspense, and enough twists to keep the reader turning the pages."

Forbidden Love and Supernatural Secrets
in Divine Fall
I love that!  While my novels are considered Romance in terms of genre, I always try to mix in plenty of conflict, tension, and mystery, as well as enough details about the setting to make the reader feel like he or she is right there.  This novel is set in a fictional town, Huntsville, Maryland, close to where I grew up.  The rural town is located in the very real Frederick County, near the very real Monocacy National Battlefield, site of the Civil War Battle that "saved Washington, D.C.".  As a kid, I spent a great deal of time at the huge farm owned by good friends of the family, and their little girl and I whiled away countless hours riding the horses, playing with the barn cats up in the hayloft, throwing sticks for all the dogs that roamed the property, and exploring the surrounding woods.  These wonderful memories inspired "Fox Run", the barn where Jamie boards her horse Beau, and where the mysterious Dothan Reed works as a new stable hand.

At the end of the review comes a comparison that thrilled me: "If you're a fan of The Mortal Instruments, Divine Fall certainly satisfies the cravings for Angels, Nephilim, and a wonderful love story".  Wow!  Jace is great, and I hope fans of the series will give Divine Fall a try...Dothan is worth it, I promise!

A reader left me this fantastic
comment on FB...made my day!
Right now, this is a stand-alone novel, although I've had requests for sequels and prequels, and I've left the door open to return to Jamie and Dothan's story someday.  At only 99 cents right now on Kindle and Nook, there's very little risk and a potential reward of hours of reading enjoyment!  And please drop me a line if you're reading, I LOVE to hear from readers.  I'm on Facebook and Twitter, so connect with me any time.  And check out the storyboard on Pinterest...get a look at Dothan :) All the links are in colored font.  Happy reading!

Revenge, Romance, and a Rogue Fallen Angel...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Second Chances - Why I Love Reunion #Romance #amreading #amwriting

There's something special about first love--sharing that initial terrifying plunge into vulnerability, experiencing a roller coaster of intense emotions, and linking your fate to another person's, even if only for a brief time.  The saying may be cliche, but I truly believe most people never forget their first love.

Of course, by definition, first love usually happens when we're young. And the young are usually eager to try new things, travel new paths, seek new challenges...and so that fragile first relationship doesn't often last.  Sometimes feelings just fade, sometimes distance creates complications, sometimes mistakes are made or promises broken. Even if that first love was not the right long-term partner, the experience usually leaves a lasting impression.

Sometimes, that first love IS the right person.  That's how it happened for my best friend in my neighborhood - she and her husband were high school sweethearts who parted ways when he left for the military and she stayed in their hometown.  Years later, one chance meeting at a New Year's Eve party was all it took, and now they've been happily married for 22 years.

Since I love the idea of a second chance at first love, most of my novels are based on two former lovers reunited - "reunion romances". In Silver Lake, the best friends who never quite got their chance in high school are reunited in a final attempt to solve the mystery of their friend Brandy's disappearance.  In Gull Harbor, a psychic medium arrives in a sleepy seaside town to go to battle with an aggressive ghost...and she's shocked to also encounter the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her the day after college graduation. In Haunted Souls., the two main characters only get a few weeks together before a military commitment splits them apart...but a secret baby brings them back together years later.  My characters have a past, and despite the chemistry that lingers between them, the betrayals and secrets create enormous obstacles in their journey to reconciliation and romance.

I'm also drawn to the reunited lovers theme as a reader, so I thought I'd make a few recommendations of my favorites over the years.  Bear in mind, not all of the following books fit into the Romance genre--the definition of Romance includes a Happy Ever After for the main characters--so I'll note the genres as well.

Madeleine's Ghost combines
elements I love - reunion
romance, ghost story, mystery,
history, and a New Orleans setting.
Madeleine's Ghost by Robert Girardi - one of my favorite books, because it combines a reunion romance with a mysterious haunting...those are the elements I use in my novels to create plenty of tension and intrigue. Madeleine's Ghost is considered literary fiction, which is a bit of a catch-all genre encompassing beautifully written books that don't fall neatly into other categories.  But to me, this is a captivating mix of romance, history, and the paranormal. The timeline moves between past and present, revealing the layers that make the characters come alive.  The descriptions of both New York City and New Orleans were so vivid I felt like I was there...and I enjoyed every minute spent traveling between the gritty East Village and the steamy bayous of Louisiana, keeping my fingers crossed for Antoinette and Ned.

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (first in the Tea Rose Trilogy).  A sweeping historical fiction, set in East London in 1888, during the time of Jack the Ripper's reign of terror.  The story begins in the tough, poverty stricken neighborhoods of Whitechapel and moves to New York City as the main character, Fiona, tries to escape the tragedies of her past and begin a new life.  But she cannot forget Joe, her boy who broke her heart...and when she returns to London to seek her revenge, she'll confront her soul-mate once again.  I enjoyed the other two books in the series as well (As an aside, the couple portrayed the next book, The Winter Rose, made my "Favorite Fictional Couples" blogpost).

The Bronze Horseman
and Tatiana & Alexander
are titles I always

The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander (first two books in The Bronze Horseman Trilogy) by Paullina Simons.  It's difficult to put into words how much I loved these two historical romance novels.  I admit I had a few doubts when I began the first book--WWII-era Leningrad does not seem like the most romantic setting, and in fact, the things that happened once the Soviet Union entered the war were downright horrific.  But throughout the years, the struggle, and the horror, Tatiana and Alexander hold on to their love, even when separated.  My heart ached for what these characters went through, and Simons captures the brutal history with amazing accuracy while still delivering a poignant--and often steamy--love story. These books made my "Favorite Reads of 2013" blogpost.  One additional note, though...while I constantly recommend the first two books to friends, I didn't enjoy the third book in the series.  The ending of Tatiana and Alexander is perfect and I wish I had stopped there.

Blue Bayou (First in The Callahan Brothers Trilogy) by JoAnn Ross. Bad boy Jack returns to his hometown to find his teenage love, Danielle, has also decided to make a life for herself back in Blue Bayou after the death of her husband.  The young lovers were torn apart once by tragedy, and past and present collide as secrets are revealed and connections are discovered, and this romantic suspense/contemporary romance is an entertaining beach read with a hot alpha hero who whispers Cajun terms of endearment.  I enjoyed the other two books in the series as well.

Spencerville by Nelson DeMille.  A lot of DeMille fans don't care for this one, probably because it's heavy on romance.  Yes, a reunion romance, as an ex-CIA agent returns to his small hometown to find out what happened to "the one that got away" - his old high school girlfriend.  The answer is: nothing good.  This is sort of a romance thriller that I absolutely loved, but I will caution readers that there is a lot more graphic violence and disturbing scenes than in a traditional romance.  But I enjoy all genres, and this combination produced a real page-turner for me.

GULL HARBOR is a #1 Amazon and Barnes + Noble Bestseller, now
available on Audible as well!

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 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.
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 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!