- McDonalds & KFC are everywhere here. I've also seen Target & Baskin Robins, and Burger King is called "Hungry Jacks". But on the food front, the most exciting news I have to impart is: THEY HAVE KEBAB! I was so addicted to Kebab when I lived in London and yeah, baby, Australia has it! They grill it (weird) and use all kinds of different sauces (though they have the traditional red chile sauce, so I'm okay with that), but it's kebab, y'all. My glee, it is massive. Unfortunately, there is a distinct dearth of Mexican food. Which is not surprising since we are, in fact, rather far from Mexico. I never realized how much of my diet consists of burritos until they are wrested from me. (Woe. Woe is me.) So Food Utopia = That Mystical Place Where Burritos and Kebab Coexist.
- There are these man-made lagoon things where people swim that are situated less than ten feet from the actual ocean. At first I thought this was crazy, but then I thought about the sharks, and crocodiles, and box jellyfish... and okay, cool idea, lagoons! They are insanely crowded, but really beautiful and from what I've seen often part of an "esplanade" walkway thing with gorgeous outdoor features, shops, restaurants and activities. The esplanade in Cairns has trapeze artists teaching people to "fly" - seriously. Very cool. (Note: I haven't been swimming in a lagoon, but I did swim in jellyfish infested and I-don't-kn0w-what infested waters on the beaches.)
- Australian Icon Update: Sydney Opera House - seen from the outside, waaaaay too long a line to go in. Great Barrier Reef - seen it, swam it, glass bottom boated it. Ayer's Rock - on the agenda for next week.
- Australian Wildlife Update: Croc in the wild - seen! Turtles at the reef - seen! Kangaroo - do road signs count? Koala - road signs? no? Wallaby - bunches. Cool birds whose names I do not know but do not exist in the US - lots.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
This is a fun adventure, and there are a couple of really interesting twists to the story that make this such a great reading experience. This is a terrific story for those who like the romantic “caper” stories, with just a light brush of danger and lots of sensuous heat thrown in.
Are you psyched, boys and girls? (Me, too!) With a 4.5 Star Review, The Naked Detective is up for Book of the Week at Long & Short Reviews, alongside many other excellent books. Go, check 'em out, see if you see a few to add to your TBR queue and vote for a favorite here:
And, in unrelated news, what are you doing for Halloween? Anything exciting? Anyone feeling daring and want to go as Ciara from The Naked Detective? Just strip nekkid and drag along your closest Federal Agent to be Nate.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Click here for the Amazon download & Click here for the B&N Nook download.
The clock is ticking. Act now! This offer won't last! (<-- You really need to picture this whole spiel yelled at top volume while one of those freaky waving-arm balloon guys has a conniption in the background. Do those waving arm balloon dudes freak anyone else out or is that just me?)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
1. Kristan Higgins rocks my world like the Shake Shack at the end of Grease. Contemporary romance with humor and heart and a sense of the real single girl (even that one heroine that I secretly found hella obnoxious, I still loved the verisimilitude). She has achieved Crusie-esq levels of adoration on my part. Have you read her? If so, you know. If not, what is your problem? Have you been living under a rock? Get thee to the bookstore!
2. Wolf Tracks by Vivian Arend is out today. And because I'm a suck-up... er, friend of Viv's, she let me read it early. It's TJ, you guys! My little heart went a pitter-pat at just the thought of this adorable hunk of werewolf-iness finally getting his own story. I just want to cuddle him forever. And the book? Yep. Pretty dang delightful. Fans of Miss Vivian's Wolfies will not be disappointed. Get thee to Samhain/Amazon/your ebook retailer of choice!
3. You know that book that everyone and their brother has been talking about? Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin? Okay, so I know Jeannie (yay, fellow Rubies!) and I was really psyched about this book when I first heard about it, but then it kept being talked about and talked about and talked about. And I got overexposed. I was all, "Yep, it's different. We know." "Yep, Tang Dynasty historical is awesome. We know." "Yay, China! We freaking know already!" I had pre-ordered my copy months ago, but when I got it, I actually glared at it resentfully, annoyed by all the people who had told me I was going to love the book. Because I hate being told I'm going to love something. I actually scream and plug my ears when people start talking about movies they think I'm going to like. (Not exaggerating. I really do this.) So with all these people spoilering this book, I couldn't imagine how I could possibly like it now. But... well... I really did want to read it.
So I did. Did it surpass all standards of awesomeness heretofore set down by the greatest goddesses of romance? I can't honestly say that it did. Was it really, really good and interesting and well-written and emotionally engaging? Abso-freaking-lutely. Hells yes. I refuse to overhype it, but if you like heroine-driven stories and seeing classic romance themes handled in new and interesting ways, then this is a book you should definitely read.
And those are the recs, folks! What about you? Read any good books lately?
Monday, October 25, 2010
And if you'd like to receive my newsletter, now is the time to be signing up since I'm about to send out the Fall edition. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
First stop, of course, was the pool:
But anyone who wants to experience Fiji needs to get away from the hotel and so I went on a tour up an inland river to a traditional Fijian village. Here's a shot of a Fijian Bure (house).
Our guides took us to a waterfall where we swam and they demonstrated the Fijian version of cliff diving.
We continued further up the river until we reached Namuamua (meaning where the two rivers meet). The villagers welcomed us, scared the bejeezus out of a few small Australian children with a spear dance, and fed us a wonderful lunch of taro root and something they insisted was human being, though it tasted a lot like chicken.
The next day, after waving goodbye to the ladies of Namuamua (who temporarily commandeered that cute Australian baby) I sailed to the island of Tavua for some snorkeling and relaxation, Fiji-style.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
- "Bula!" means both "Hello!" and "Alive!" and so is always said with enthusiasm and vigor.
- Fiji has 333 islands, all together, and about 90 are inhabited.
- Fiji has a population around 850,000 - roughly half of which are indigenous Fijian and the other half are Fijian Indian.
- Fiji is home to the largest Hindu temple in the South Pacific (it's really colorful!) as well as several mosques and Christian churches. (See! We can all get along!)
- The movie Castaway was filmed on an island there, and the movie Anaconda was filmed on a river on the biggest island Viti Levu - though there are no snakes in Fiji.
- The official language is English, but Fijian and Hindustani are also widely spoken.
- There are fourteen provinces and fourteen different dialects of Fijian.
- The primary industry in Fiji is tourism, followed by sugar cane.
- The traditional drink in Fiji is kava - a bitter tea-like drink that leaves your lips and tongue numb if you drink too much.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
(And as a reminder, the Raven Annual Halloween Hunt is still running with over 50 prizes up for grabs!)
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Click here for the Amazon Freebie for Kindle or Kindle for PC/iPhone!
Click here for the Barnes & Noble freebie for Nook!
As you may have guessed, I'm a little excited about this. This is my chance to inflict myself on the whole entire world free of charge! World domination has never been so reasonably priced!
Already have the story? Like it maybe a little? Totally hate it? Either way, this is the time to get all your friends to read it (totally free!) so you can discuss the stripper poltergeisty-ness with your loved ones. Jump on in, the ridiculicious rom-com is waiting for you.
I now entice you with a sneak peek into Chapter Numero Uno: The Larrinator.
“Oh, please. Kill me now.”
The half-naked figure jiggling in front of her seemed to take this as a compliment. “Yeah, baby, you know you want it.”
Lucy Cartwright closed her eyes and wondered—not for the first time—what she had ever done in her life to deserve this punishment. Karma was a vindictive bitch, but this was taking things too far.
The pudgy, middle-aged stockbroker performing a striptease in her bedroom finished whipping his shirt around his head and flung it across the room. Keeping time to the booty music in his head, he bumped and ground his way in a little circle until his pasty back was right in front of her. The flabby ass that had spent more time in an ergonomic chair than hitting it in nightclubs bounced back toward her in nauseating invitation.
If he had been more substantial, he might have knocked her back a few steps in his enthusiasm, but tonight’s visitor wasn’t what you could call corporeal.
Lucy was a medium, which—no offense to Patricia Arquette and Jennifer Love Hewitt—did not involve helping the ghosts of murdered people find justice. Thank God. Lucy couldn’t stand blood. Or death. Or anything involving blood or death.
Except, you know, the ghosts. That part was okay. Usually.
Helping loved ones contact the dearly departed was also not in her job description. There were people who did that, but she was in a slightly different line.
Lucy helped the deceased work through their issues and move on to the next plane. The white light. Whatever.
She wasn’t really big on the whole theology of the thing. She’d met ghosts who practiced just about every major religion and hadn’t really noticed any huge differences in their immediate afterlife. What came after the white light was none of her business. Lucy pretty much avoided the whole Heaven thing, which was easier than one might expect, considering she worked with the dead. She was not a priest. Or a minister.
Nope, Lucy was more of a post-life therapist. Helping people release the issues that were keeping them from moving on.
It was only recently that all of her clients had started wanting a release of a different kind.
“Larry,” Lucy said in her calmest, most reasonable tone. “As, uh, studly as you are, I can’t, uh, get with you tonight, buddy.”
Larry shook it one hundred and eighty degrees and then performed a deep knee bend that was truly impressive for a man his size, his knees popping out to either side as his crotch slid down her leg.
Oh great, he’s the stripper and now I get to be the pole. Lucy couldn’t feel a thing—Larry wasn’t that with it—but it was still a disconcerting experience.
“Come on, baby,” Larry cooed in what he clearly thought was a sexy voice, but sounded disturbingly like the voice adults use when talking to infants. “Show the Larrinator how bad you want it.”
“Badly,” Lucy corrected automatically. “Larry. No matter how much I might want it, it isn’t going to happen tonight. I hate to be the one to tell you this, buddy, but you don’t have a body.”
Larry laughed—it was actually a very pleasant laugh and Lucy felt a brief stab of pity. Poor Larry. Then he popped up out of his knee bend and began running his large, soft hands all over his vast expanses of jiggling flesh, making exaggerated sexy-faces as he petted himself. Pity took a backseat.
“No body? What do you call this, baby? I got a body for you right here, baby.”
Larry’s hands went to the fly on his trousers. Instinct made Lucy reach out to grab his wrist to stop him from dropping trou, but her hand passed right through his arm without even the usual sensation of cold tingling. Larry just wasn’t there.
“Larry, man, I’m sorry, but you’re dead, buddy.”
Larry laughed again and the trousers dropped to the floor. Oh Lord.
“Does this look dead to you, baby?”
Why did they always call her baby? And why could she never get through to them before they were standing—as much as ghosts could stand, anyway—in the middle of her bedroom, stark naked?
The Larrinator was standing at attention. Larry stood with his hands planted on his hips, all swagger and confidence where she was sure there hadn’t been any in life.
Lucy sighed. “How about a hand job, Larry?” She thrust her hand out and it passed smoothly through the Larrinator.
Larry’s image wavered, becoming a little more transparent. “Whoa. Heavy.”
“Yeah, Larry, death is pretty intense. Would you like to sit down and talk about it?”
Larry shoved his lower lip out as he thought that one over, looking more like a lost little boy than a middle-aged stockbroker who had just died of a heart attack. “Do I have to put my pants back on?”
Thursday, October 14, 2010
So I dove (in a graceful and completely non-spastic manner) for the magazine and (not at all frantically) flipped through the pages until I hit upon the paranormal section. After being momentarily distracted by "Oooh, Nalini Singh has a new Psi/Changling book coming out!" I found my own name, my own title, and a mirage of a rating. 4.5 Stars! Whoa, mama!
Observe the Awesome:
"The characters in this book are beyond charming — not only is the romance hot and heavy, but the alternate storyline of trying to fit into a world that simply doesn’t believe in the “unbelievable” is extremely touching. The conversations between Jo and her immediate family are laugh-out-loud funny, and the steps that Jo goes through to help these lost souls find peace is highly entertaining."
Did you see that? Beyond charming... hot and heavy... extremely touching... laugh-out-loud funny... highly entertaining. I just melted into a puddle of joy. Such lovely, lovely words.
RT subscribers can check out this and beaucoup other reviews (including Nalini Singh's Top Pick this month) at their website, while mere non-subscribing mortals can find the mag at your local bookstore or online in a couple months when they roll into the archives.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go dance on the beach.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Samhain is pleased to partner with Borders and Kobo for a special week-long promotion. From October 4 through October 11, the following titles will be available for free on Borders.com and Kobobooks.com.
Colters' Woman by Maya Banks Uber sexiness with multiple players...
The Ghost Exterminator by Vivi Andrews Hey! That's me! Laughs, romance, and ghosty goodness.
Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend Werewolves in the Great Northwest. Fun and fabulous.
A Safe Harbor by Moira Rogers More werewolfy goodness. Mmmm, wolfy.
Standoff by Lauren Dane Sexiness of the werewolf persuasion.
Long Hard Ride by Lorelei James Uber sexiness of the cowboy variety, with multiple players
Crazed Hearts by Shiloh Walker Empaths and dark forces (and sexiness...)
Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell Male/male romance of the awesome variety.
Hara's Legacy by Bianca D'Arc Uber sexiness of the sci-fi variety, with multiple players.
Trey by Cat Johnson Hello, soldier. Is that a sidearm in your pocket...
Happy reading, y'all!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, we have another interview victim, er, subject! Today we welcome Heather McCollum, 2009 Golden Heart finalist in the paranormal romance category and author of MAGICK: Book Two of THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES!
Available this Friday, October 8th, in digital and print formats from The Wild Rose Press, MAGICK is Heather's second release and the second book in the five-book DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES, following four sisters with paranormal abilities who were scattered and stranded through time for their own protection.
PROPHECY, the first book in the series, released in July and promptly hooked readers on this fabulous world.
“Prophecy is one of the best books I read this year. Your writing skills are so strong, the complex plot, the characterizations, and the settings are seamlessly blended into a terrific story. Not only did you do all the above, you began this series without overwhelming the reader with characters and back story. Count me as a fan.” Susan Ralph (author of BROMPTON MANOR from Avalon Romance).Now the magic continues with the second book in the series, as the second sister Merewin struggles for her happily-ever-after with the Viking warrior Hauk, who mistrusts the very magic that is so deeply a part of her.
Happy (almost) Release Day and Congratulations, Heather!
Thank you so much for interviewing me today.
What drew you to romance that blended history and magic?
I’m a huge believer in happy endings even if they seem hidden in today’s world of lay-offs, divorce, and materialistic lust. In the romance genre, a happy ending is a guarantee even when it seems that there is no way for two particular people to ever find it. I love creating two characters that must maneuver through the obstacle course I erect to find their happily-ever-after. So writing romance comes naturally to me.
And I’ve always loved history, the cultural and physical limitations, the people with their spirit and incredible will to survive. Historical settings are magical in themselves since they are so foreign from what we live with everyday. So blending magic into them also comes naturally.
In each book of your Dragonfly Chronicles series, you explore a new time and place where another of the four sisters and their powers have been hidden. How do you research each period and place?
Luckily I love diving into history. I usually start researching on the internet, hunting for historical time periods and the political, economical, and social strife boiling up around the people of that time. Because understanding the historical flavor allows me to mold my characters into authentic people who view and interact with the authentic world around them.
Once I determine the exact time period, I find a few reference books such as the WRITER’S GUIDE books or the EVERYDAY LIFE IN . . . type books. They give me details such as how much things cost or if my characters had a toilet to use (which is definitely an important detail in my world).
I also use specific books according to my characters such as CLANS & TARTANS or my GYPSY-ENGLISH DICTIONARY (my heroine is a gypsy in PROPHECY). Words and slang used in different time periods can be found in Richard A. Spears’s book SLANG and EUPHEMISM and on the online etymology web site www.etymonline.com.
There are hundreds of resources for writers. However, if you are a history lover, the trick is to use the resources without getting sucked into them for hours : )
What would you say drives your books? Is it the hero, the heroine, the overarching conflict?
In each book of THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES the overall series antagonist, Drakkina, learns a truth about the magical emotion - love. Drakkina is an ancient Wiccan priestess whose body died long ago but whose spirit strives to save our world against a group of thirteen demons. She starts off thinking that love is only a tool to manipulate people. But through each book we see Drakkina’s character arc unfold as she interacts with the hero and heroine and battles with them to find happiness and the truth about love.
If you could pick the actors to play Hauk & Merewin in the movie of Magick, who would you cast?
Actually this is a funny story. I create collages for my books to help me dive more into the world of my characters and into their psyches. I’ll write a few chapters quickly because I can’t wait to start the new project but then I start to slow down because I don’t know my characters as well as I should. So I stop and spend a day or two cutting and gluing pictures of my people and settings onto poster board or in a blank book.
Well I was looking for my Viking, Hauk, and was having a hard time finding him. Not that my pictures have to be exactly what my hero and heroine look like in my head, but certain characteristics need to be there so I can connect with them. So I was sitting with my husband complaining that I needed someone like Brad Pitt but with longish-blondish hair, nice biceps and a certain cocky air about him. My husband grabbed his copy of Men’s Health (which he never reads but I buy for him so I can cut out the pictures) and tossed it to me. “Isn’t that Hauk on the cover,” he said. I looked at the expression on a picture of Sawyer from the LOST TV series and squealed. My husband was so right, Sawyer, with his bad boy complex but genuine heart had the perfect glint in his eye in this rough-looking, casual picture.
Luckily my husband doesn’t mind me squealing over pictures of gorgeous men because he knows it’s only to help me write ; ) One of the perks of being a writer.
What three things do you absolutely need in order to write?
Hmmm . . . the only two things I really need to write are my laptop and my muse. But in a house with three young kids, a hubby that works from home and a crazy 65-pound golden retriever puppy, it can be VERY hard to find my muse. Half the time she’s scared off by shrill screaming and Nerf darts flying through the air. But there are a number of ways I can attract my muse to hang out in my heart for awhile so I can write.
First I must have a hot Chai latte with skim milk. I taste cinnamon and the creativity starts flowing. Talk about being one of Pavlov’s dogs! Chocolate can replace Chai in a pinch if needed.
Second, my music. I create a soundtrack from iTunes for each of my manuscripts that I listen to while I write. I used to only be able to write in complete silence. But complete silence abandoned me the first time my OB said, “it’s a girl.” So over the years I’ve trained myself to write with music blocking out the sweet sounds of home. I started soft with instrumentals, but now I can write with Enya crooning or Eminem ranting in my ears. As long as they aren’t whining about wanting a juice pouch, my muse stays with me.
Thirdly, my pictures. The collages I mentioned before transport me to that other world. I’m a very visual person and like to study the anguish or rapture on my characters’ faces before I can realistically write about them.
I’ve also added in aromatic candles and certain objects that hold significance to my manuscript on occasion, but really my muse only needs those three things.
Which direction is your muse taking you now? What's next in the DRAGONFLY series? I know you have an agent - are your current NY-targeted proposals also stories of magic, history and romance?
Actually there will be five books in THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES series. The third book, MASQUERADE, will probably be released in the first quarter of 2011. The third sister is a current day heroine who is transported with the hero to Elizabethan England.
The fourth book is set in Victorian Era Egypt and England. I’ve just started writing this very exciting adventure. The fifth book will involve all the sisters and their soul mates as they help Drakkina battle the coven of thirteen demons threatening the world.
I also have a completed Scottish historical with paranormal elements which is separate from this series. My agent has been shopping CAPTURED HEART (CH) out to the larger NY-based publishing houses. A novella linked to CH, HIGHLAND HEART, will be released as part of an anthology, The MAMMOTH BOOK of SCOTTISH ROMANCE, in January 2011 from Running Press.
Apart from those books, I am currently finishing a current day Young Adult paranormal romance called SIREN’S SONG. Since Jule’s first coo as a baby, she’s captured everyone’s attention with her magical voice. But she’s never encountered the fury she sees in Luke’s face when he hears her song.
It’s just another life for Luke, similar yet different than the last ten lives he’s already endured. Eleven loveless lives due to a curse cast by an insane, dark wizard. Luke must live life after life without love until he finds his soul mate. Her voice will call to him, but as his love grows for his siren so will the darkness in the curse, forcing him to kill the only person he will ever love.
Sounds like you're very busy, Heather! Thank you for giving us a peek into your new release and congratulations!
Thanks again so much for featuring me and MAGICK today!
Don't miss MAGICK: Book Two of THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES!
Fury and guilt assail Hauk, a fierce Viking warrior, after he allows false healers to cure his family to death. When he’s ordered to capture the Great Witch of the Woods in Northumbria, he doesn’t anticipate that his hatred for all things magick would be challenged by a long-legged beauty with willful brown eyes.
Even with her great healing powers, Merewin’s fear of failure nearly cripples her resilient spirit. Strong wills clash as Merewin and Hauk battle their instant attraction. Can Hauk trust a healer with his remaining family and with his heart? Can Merewin conquer her own pride to love this powerful man who possesses an unacknowledged magic of his own? In the end Merewin and Hauk must put their faith in each other and in their love. For love is the only magick that can heal someone’s soul.
Buy MAGICK from Amazon :: Buy MAGICK directly from the Publisher