Monday, July 18, 2011

Now Available, Sheer Bliss: Shapeshifter Erotic Romance

I am pleased to announce the release of SHEER BLISS, the first in my new Love is Bliss series. This novella features wolves and were-panthers, and I hope you enjoy it! I was inspired to write the story after several trips up and down the Jersey Turnpike, and the multiple visits to the state for various book events. I am a beach person at heart, so I wanted to incorporate my love for the shore and my interest in paranormal romance. I don't have many paranormals in the back list, much less shifter stories, and I wanted to correct that.

SHEER BLISS will be followed by TRUE BLISS, which will come after my next Dareville story. Enjoy!

Buy This: All Romance, Smashwords, Kindle, NOOK

Living in Bliss, New Jersey has it perks, unless you’re a shifter looking for love or a human looking for peace and quiet. Not only does Calla Savitch, owner of Shear Bliss salon, have to deal with warring panthers and werewolves with overlapping appointments, she’s fed up with their constant matchmaking attempts. The last thing she wants especially is a hook-up with the one shifter who broke her heart years ago.

Handsome were-panther Caleb Houlihan still nurses the guilt of Calla’s heartbreak, but when presented with a second chance to woo her he is reluctant. Calla may forgive his youthful indiscretions, but when she discovers his aunt’s true motive for wanting them together, will she send him packing?

On this stretch of the Jersey Shore, it’s a different “situation”!


Still in cat form, Caleb took to the sand with graceful stealth, staying to the shadows behind the light posts lining the edge where the sands met the residential area. Closer to Calla’s beachside home, he caught a familiar scent in the air—shifter, yet unmistakably female—and followed it directly to the brick wall that separated Calla’s property from the public walkway to the sea.

Interesting, Caleb mused to himself, and wondered if Calla herself had the ability to give off such a scent considering her alleged genetic makeup. He hadn’t intended to come here—he’d originally started in this direction to track down Trisha and her friends at The Wall, a favorite night club situated on the shore. If necessary he could shift partially—covering all the essential parts—and order the girl home if she appeared to be having too good of a time to threaten her betrothal to Malcolm Weaver.

And if I keep telling myself that, I can justify spying on Calla Savitch as a happy accident, he thought as the entranceway to her backyard came into view. On light paws, Caleb bent low and crept closer to the wall, picking up bits of conversation drifting from her porch. He stilled and kept out of view, tuning out the roar of the ocean behind him.

“So, how goes the search?” asked a woman sounding way too sultry to be Calla.

A barking laugh broke the short moment of silence that followed. “It’s not so much a search as it is a complete lack of interest.”

“Cute, Calla.”

Breathless silence followed. Though curiosity burned through Caleb’s senses, he didn’t dare raise his head even a centimeter over the top of the wall. He inhaled the crisp, heady scent of she-wolf and knew immediately the other voice belonged to a Winston—most likely the uninhibited Maya. He knew the two women were close, but the direction of their conversation—coupled with the amorous heat given off by the shifter—implied to Caleb a more unconventional relationship than friends might have suspected.

He closed his eyes to better detect their movements. He heard hands smoothing over skin, quiet sighs of pleasures, and finally a juicy, smacking liplock. Sweet Calla, I hardly knew ye. With Maya, of course, he expected a fondness for both genders—the she-wolf was a self-proclaimed trisexual.

Try anything sexual.

Caleb grinned to himself, remembering her drunken proclamation at a past Indian Summer Ball. He then wondered if the breakdown of his fling with Calla all those years ago precipitated this broadening of his old flame’s sexual horizons.

Sighs turned to steady moaning now, and by damn if Caleb didn’t begin to harden in panther form. That’s it, he decided, and shifted to human form. Given the vibes thrumming from the back porch, Caleb doubted either woman would spot him peeking.

Still crouched low in the sand, he bent his fingers over the brick and lifted his head to skim the yard area. In the glow of porch light, Calla and Maya stood locked in a tight embrace. Calla, willowy and pale in her nightshirt, rested one hand on Maya’s bare bottom, kneading the ample flesh while her other hand cupped a breast. Maya’s hand had to work as well, though with their position Caleb couldn’t readily see where the she-wolf touched her…friend. Wherever Maya devoted that attention, though, Calla appeared to enjoy it. Caleb’s keen eyesight picked up on the rapid flittering of the woman’s eyelids, her face twisting with ecstasy as she moved with Maya to deepen and prolong their kiss.

It seemed to go on forever, and Maya finally broke free and moved to Calla’s side, pressing her breasts against the other woman’s shoulder. Here Caleb made out Calla’s inviting shape underneath the skimpy shift—rock hard nipples denting the fabric, which dipped at the delta between her quivering thighs. Unconsciously he grasped the base of his cock, and his fingers curled around his sac, tugging and massaging to full arousal.

Maya lifted the hem of Calla’s short gown high enough to reach the waistband of her floral-patterned panties. She slipped her hand underneath the slim triangle—Caleb watched fingers flex and bend as Maya presumably worked Calla’s pussy and clit to a near-liquid state.

“Let’s go inside,” he heard the she-wolf buzz in Calla’s ear. “We can do so much more, comfortably.”

No sooner were the words said, though, when Calla’s heavy-lidded expression slowly sobered. She seemed to awake from a dream and turned to Maya as though seeing her for the first time. Her hand fell limp from Maya’s backside and she gently extracted the she-wolf from her private parts.

“You are definitely tempting me tonight,” Calla said, appearing to ignore Maya’s look of confused disappointment, “but I’m sorry. I’m just not feeling it right it.”

“I didn’t get that impression a second ago,” Maya said accusingly.

Calla, however, just smiled and offered a chaste kiss to Maya’s nose. “Come by the salon for a freebie. I’ll make it up to you.” Without another word, she backed into her house and slid the glass patio door shut.

“Calla?” Maya called after her, but her plea met with the quiet swish of a curtain blocking her—and Caleb’s—view of Calla’s kitchen. The she-wolf growled and turned sharply away, storming down the path toward the ocean. “I doubt it’s the kind of ‘freebie’ I’d want,” she grumbled.

Still in human form, Caleb pressed his back to the wall and hoped the aborted seduction preoccupied Maya enough not to detect his scent. At it was, he expected her to shift back to wolf form once she hit the beach, and dash into the dark.

Instead, Maya fulfilled half his prediction. Not seconds after shifting, those white socks trotted over the sand to where he hid. Caleb glared uneasily into bright blue eyes and the best approximation of a canine grin.

Hello, Caleb.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gone Fission

Taking a few days off from consecutive blogging. After more than six months non-stop, it's time to take a break and reflect on what is blogged and what needs to be blogged in the future. Besides, current events have me down a bit, and I also must give some time to my writing.

Don't worry, the hiatus won't last long.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Blog: Robyn Bradley and 5 Tips for Creating a Kick-Butt Author Page on Facebook

Me Want Food welcomes Robyn Bradley to today's guest spot. If you are interest in doing a guest post, please contact kspatwriter at Yahoo.

Hi, my name is Robyn, and I'm a Facebook junkie. I'm that person who'll read your status updates and always comment. I'm the one who brings cute cat videos to your newsfeeds. My day is not complete unless I get at least one bingo in Scrabble. Family knows the best way to reach me is by writing on my Wall (I mentioned the addiction part, right?).

While we can debate -- some other time, thanks! -- how healthy it is for me to spend all my waking hours on Mark Zuckerberg's infamous college creation, let's instead look at something positive that comes from my Facebook habit: I know how to use it. And thanks to my day job as a marketing copywriter, I know how to use it well. Which comes in handy when you're a self-published writer looking to grow a fan base on the largest social network in the multiverse.

That said, I know many writers struggle with the business side of Facebook, like how to create -- and leverage -- their author page. Here are five tips to help you get the most from your FB experience.

(For the purpose of this post, I'm assuming you already have an author page set up. If not, Facebook will walk you through it step by step -- choose the "author" category under "Artist, Band, or Public Figure.")

1. Create a welcome page. When non-fans land on your page, it defaults to the Wall. This isn't the most compelling place for people to land. Instead, create a custom tab that "welcomes" people and gives them a reason to like your page. To get an idea of what I mean about welcome pages, check out what big brands do, like Target or Starburst.

If you're technically inclined at all, you can do it yourself (HubSpot has a good tutorial ). If you need help creating the custom welcome page, I recommend a third-party app called Short Stack ($5/month for the basic level). The call to action is to get people to like the page.

So how do you change your default landing page?
  • Go to Wall 
  • Click on “edit page” (right corner-ish) 
  • Click on “manage permissions” from the list on the left 
  • 5th item in list is “Default Landing Tab” – you can toggle to the tab you want. Until you have your welcome page set up, default to your “info” page (just make sure it's juicy). 

2. Get fans. The easiest way to get fans is to promote your page to your current list of FB friends. Do a status update on your personal profile that says something like, "Hey, everyone. I just launched my author page and I need fans to get it going. I'd love for you to like the page." And then include the URL.

Don't stop there. Make sure you include a link to your Facebook page everywhere: in your email signature. In your eBooks and print books. On your website (on every page!). On your Twitter profile. On Goodreads. On all online forums where you hang out.

Run Facebook ads. Here's the thing you need to remember about advertising. It's a long-term process. Once you get someone to like your page, you can continue to market to that person FOR FREE. Yes, I've had fans buy my books. It doesn't happen all at once, but it does happen.

With Facebook ads, you set a daily budget and you choose who you want to target (for my ads, I focus on people who use words like "Kindle," "Nook," and "iPad" in their profiles). If your budget allows, try $5/day for a month and watch your fan base grow. A page doesn't really start "humming," in my opinion, until you have around 250 fans. It's the critical mass needed to encourage good conversations and many "likes."

3. Secure a vanity URL. Once you have 25 fans, you can register a vanity URL (e.g., which makes for a much cleaner URL, especially in print (think the back cover of your book). This tutorial will show you how to do it.

4. Add fun apps. Here’s a great article on 75 apps that can help create a more engaging FB page.

5. Engage your fans. I try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent should be about your fans and their interests and only 20 percent should be promotional.

Some ideas for status updates:
  • Ask questions. At least once a month, I ask what everyone is reading. This always garners many responses and "likes." The more responses and likes you get, the better chance your status update will be pushed to the top of people's "top news" in the newsfeed.
  • Share news stories about books, ereaders, authors, whatever.
  • Post videos. Book trailers -- yours and others -- are always fun.
  • Share trivia (e.g. "This day in history, Shakespeare was born").
  • Share blog posts (go easy on this -- you don't need to share every blog post you write).
  • Share upcoming cover art (or have your readers weigh in on which cover to choose).
  • Ask controversial questions (e.g. "Is it okay to use f-bombs in YA novels?"). 
Wishing you much success on your Facebook journey. Oh, and if you'd like to check out my page, click here.

Facebook walks you through it step by step:
HubSpot tutorial:
Short Stack:
Facebook ads:
This tutorial:
A great article:
Click here (my FB page):


Robyn Bradley Bio and Links

Robyn Bradley is a Short Story Seductress and Novelist Ninja with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in FictionWeekly.comMetal ScratchesThe Breakwater ReviewWriter's Digest, and The MetroWest Daily News, among other places. In 2007, she won a short story award for “A Touch of Charlotte.”Forgotten April is her first novel and is available on KindleNookiPad, and in paperback. When she's not writing or sleeping, Robyn enjoys watching Law & Order marathons, drinking margaritas, and determining how many degrees really separate her from George Clooney. Learn more at

Synopsis of Forgotten April

For April Sullivan-LaMonica, the last ten years have been hell: her husband and young son were killed in a car accident, and soon after, her mom descended into the darkness of Alzheimer’s. So when broadcast journalist Maggie Prescott shows up claiming to be April’s half sister and tries to capture their reunion on film, April outwardly regards Maggie with much suspicion. In reality, she’s simply afraid to grow close to someone again, only to have that person leave — or worse.

Maggie, meanwhile, is battling her own demons: figuring out why her biological mother gave her up, facing a secret she’s kept from the one man she’s loved all her life, and giving herself permission to follow the dream she’s had since she was a child.

Separated by nearly two decades and radically different life paths, April and Maggie must decide if pursuing their sisterhood is worth it…or even possible.

A story of loss, love, survival, and redemption, Forgotten April will speak to anyone who’s experienced the pains — and riches — of an unexpected friendship that emerges from family ties.

Purchase Links for Forgotten April 

Paperback - 
Kindle - 
Nook - 
Ipad, Iphone, Ipod Touch -
Learn more at
Robyn's Blog: 

Review: English Tea Murder

3 Stars

I came into the Lucy Stone series late, about 14 or so books late. :-) I do like that with this particular book I don't feel lost, or compelled to thumb through an entire series for points of reference. Though I am the type of mystery reader who prefers to set a base of familiarity by reading the first book in series, I am confident in saying that if you have not read all of Meier's books in this line you will not have missed anything important.

As this title implies, Lucy and three of her close friends have embarked on a guided tour of England sponsored by the local college in their hometown of Tinker's Cove, Maine. The motley crew of sojourners includes a trio of troubled underclassmen and their parents/guardians. Rounding out the group is Professor Temple, a middle-aged Anglophile who unfortunately contributes little to the tour. A severe allergy attack, realized too late by crew and tour mates, results in his mid-flight death.

Nonetheless, the group sallies forth with a replacement flown in by the school, one Professor Quentin Rea. Lucy's familiarity with Quentin makes for some amusing yet awkward moments, but the distraction isn't enough to keep Lucy from wondering at the collective tense behaviors exhibited by everybody else on tour. The younger ones run emotions hot and cold - acting like carefree BFFs one moment then paranoid co-conspirators the next - while the parents hover close as though to protect their young. Typical helicopter parenting or protection from something more sinister, Lucy can't decide, but her reporter's instinct remain sharp throughout the story as secrets about the late Professor Temple are revealed.

English Tea Murder is a layered story that exposes a number of "a-ha" moments throughout the course of Lucy's adventures. Meier's style is relaxed and allows for quick reading - I finished this in two days - though the scope of the story and the size of the cast doesn't leave much room for character development. Again, as this is a book late in a series, I should expect to become more familiar with Lucy and company in earlier installments. English Tea Murder provided enough enjoyment to encourage me to look into more books by the author.

ARC received by Kensington Books for review

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What I'm Reading - Maybe Duckie Should Have Got the Girl

I have a confession to make here: I never "got" The Breakfast Club. I also hated the ending of Pretty in Pink; when I saw the movie for the first time I got the impression that ending had been tacked on at the last minute, and I didn't like that Andie, having gone through all that crap with the rich kid, caved and ran to him just because swooped in at the last minute. Don't get me started on the mystery blonde beckoning Duckie onto the dance floor. Did she enroll the day before prom? It was some small comfort to learn later on that the filmmakers felt pressured to change the ending after a bad screen test - that Duckie was supposed to get the girl, or at least Andie a stronger sense of self - but like John Hughes's other generation defining films this one just didn't speak to me.

Why? I'm baffled. I was the target age for these films. I was an insecure, middle class teenager wondering why in the hell boys never asked me out. Perhaps the fact that there were no "richies" on the Westside made it difficult for me to relate to some of these movies and the focus on so-called caste systems. Also, I was a well behaved student and never had to sit through all-day Saturday detention - and I can tell you that at my school a damn sight more than five people reported weekly.

Anyway, my friend Joe pointed me toward this book You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried as a possible review for the rock book blog. It qualifies, too, if you think about it. Hughes' teen-angst films showcased the New Wave trends of the day, so much to the point a label had been set up solely to release soundtracks for these movies. Contrary to my initial thinking, too, "I Melt With You" doesn't appear in every single film, though given that song's prevalence in the 80s I'm quite surprised.

So look for a longer review on the rock book blog. I may even go back and watch some of these movies again to see if I do get it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Phaze Books 99 Cent Kindle Sale for July!

99 cents won't buy you a Sausage McMuffin with Egg anymore, but for under a dollar you can enjoy a whole different kind of...

Okay, that started out crudely. Do over.

Phaze Books is having an incredible 99 cent sale through Amazon Kindle. Now through July 31, you can buy a variety of back list and bestselling books from some very talented authors. M/M, paranormal, interracial, contemporary, all erotic and less than a buck each. Not only that, you can get Pithed on sale for 99 cents through July, too.

Fill up your eReader for some hot summer reading. Here's what is on sale:

Add a Little Mistletoe - Aliyah Burke, interracial erotic romance

Cassolette - Iona Blair, erotic suspense

Fascination Street - Bridget Midway, interracial BDSM erotic romance

From the Shadows - Jae Knight, paranormal erotic romance

Hot Georgia Winds - Charlotte Boyett-Compo, cougar erotic romance

- N, dark erotic suspense

Kiss of the Sun
- Racheal Pierce, vampire erotic romance

Last Chance for Love
- Brenna Lyons, fantasy erotic romance

Miller's Tale - GA Hauser, gay erotic romance

Mitigated Filth - Fenner Jekyll, erotic short stories

Morningstar - Jade Falconer, gay vampire erotic romance

Muse - Leigh Ellwood, erotic romance

My Deepest Love: Zack - Marie Rochelle, interracial erotic romance

Night Warriors - Brenna Lyons, fantasy erotic romance

Original Sin - Bridget Midway, science fiction erotic romance

Other People's Secrets - Cassie Walder, erotic romance

Relationships, Vol. 1 - Piers Anthony, short stories with erotic themes

Shadow Cat - Zoe LaPage, paranormal erotic romance

Taken by Storm - Marie Rochelle, interracial erotic romance

Tangled Web - Jade Falconer, gay erotic romance

Teacher's Pet - GA Hauser, gay erotic romance

The Question - Zena Wynn, interracial erotic romance

Three Days in New York City - Robin Slick, women's erotica

Truth or Dare - Leigh Ellwood, erotic romance

Under Distant Moons - Mara Kelly, fantasy erotic anthology

Waking Annabel - Jayelle Drewry, erotic romance with BDSM elements

Wind - Sarah Dickson, science fiction erotic romance

Sale ends on July 31, and it's only on Amazon Kindle!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Guest Post - Jennifer Provost

Me Wants Food welcomes Jennifer Provost! If you are interested in guest blogging, please drop a line at kspatwriter at yahoo.

First of all, thank you Kat for giving me the opportunity to guest post on your blog!

Of course, then I needed to come up with a topic. When I asked her what I should write about, she mentioned that most describe their books, or some aspect of their particular writing process. I decided to give a brief synopsis of my fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and answer the question I get the most:

How did I manage to write so much (five complete novels) in less than two years? Answer: It’s all up here *taps forehead*

At this point the asker’s brow furrows; sometimes, they shake their head. “But how did it get there?” they press. “Where did it come from? How did you write so quickly?”

As for where it comes from, a psychologist could have a field day with that, but the answer to the third question is that is that I write a lot of scenes that are not intended to make it into the finished books. I know, writing more seems counterintuitive, but by doing this I’m certain that I know my characters inside and out. I understand their motivations, their quirks, their flaws. Therefore, when Aeolmar loses his temper I know why he’s such a hothead, and when Harek trembles with rage when Asherah laughs at another man’s witty comment I can feel his anger.

What’s more, I can learn where their little quirks originate. Aeolmar has a short temper like his mother, but his father’s sense of honor. Leran is stubborn like Lormac, and would rather fight a war alone than ask for help. And Innetha… Well, Innetha has an interesting take on life.

By knowing my characters as well as I do, when I settle in to write a scene it’s more like a journal entry than the drudgery of plotting. I know I’ve really got a handle on them when the dialogue flows naturally, like a well-acted play. I’ve got pages of dialogue between Finlay and Aeolmar, out riding and having a (mostly) one-sided discussion on Aeolmar’s infatuation with Latera. To the average reader it’s as boring as an unpainted wall, but to me it offered valuable insight into Aeolmar’s mind. This dialogue ended up being whittled down to one line Finlay said to Latera after she threw Aeolmar out of her chamber. He told Latera that Aeolmar had been quietly in love with her since they day they met, and asked her to give him another chance. She did.

Some argue that these many unused scenes are an exercise in futility, but I disagree. After Rise of the Deva’shi was released I started getting emails asking for stories featuring Aeolmar, so I took out my favorites, polished them up, and released them as Hunter’s Tales. My favorites are Brambleberries, where Aeolmar rescues Latera from a vicious snake, and Defender of the Forge, where we get a glimpse of Aeolmar’s life before he was First Hunter.

As stated above, I like getting to know my characters. Maybe it’s a bit more work in the beginning, but well worth the end result.

Available Now:

Rise of the Deva'shi - The acclaimed story of Latera, a human girl who becomes lost in the Faerie Realm. While there, Latera becomes a huntress in the court of the Faerie Queen, steals the First Hunter’s heart, and learns that she is anything but an ordinary girl. Then she’s kidnapped again, this time sent back to the mortal realm after half a life spent in Faerie. Latera struggles to fit in with her family, but when her heritage is revealed she leans that she is Faerie’s only hope.

Hunters Tales: Deleted Scenes from Rise of the Deva'shi - Five short stories told from Aeolmar’s perspective.

Coming Summer 2011 from Fantastic Books:

Heir to the Sun: One thousand years before the deva’shi rose, the Faerie King has entered into a pact with the demon lord, trading his people’s freedom for the might to conquer the nine realms. Two unlikely allies are determined to stop him: Asherah, enslaved by demons, and Caol’nir, a warrior sworn to defend the king.

When Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her captivity, she leads her fellow slaves in a daring escape and burns their prison to the ground. Then she learns that there are many more prisons across Parthalan, and embarks upon a campaign to free every last faerie.

In stark contrast to Asherah’s struggles, Caol’nir lives the comfortable life of a temple guard. He is sworn to serve and defend the king, as his ancestors have done since time immemorial. Now a priestess has been murdered, and Caol’nir learns that Sahlgren’s scheming is to blame. Determined to thwart the king, sacred oath or no, Caol’nir joins Asherah’s rebellion. What Caol’nir doesn’t know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman who is rumored to be the sun god’s daughter. She also happens to be Caol’nir’s mate.

Coming in Fall 2011 from Fantastic Books:

The Virgin Queen: Asherah’s rule has brought an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity to Parthalan, but not all enjoy the peaceful times, and those closest to the Faerie Queen plot her downfall. Enter Aeolmar, a mysterious man from the west whose singular goal is the death of the demon warlord Mersgoth. With Aeolmar at her side Asherah feels that nothing can harm her – nothing, until Aeolmar pushes her away.

Coming in 2012:



Want to know more? Visit me online, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Goodreads or email me at

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guest Blog: Dawn Deanna Wilson

Me Want Food welcomes Dawn Deanna Wilson as today's guest blogger. If you are interested in a spot on the blog, email kspatwriter at Yahoo. 

Be sure to comment on today's blog for a chance to win Dawn's book. Thanks!

Thank you so much for having me as a part of this blog interview. I’d like to tell you a bit about myself, my two most recent books, what I’m working on, and what I think makes a perfect leading man…

Oh, and free stuff. That’s going on, too.

I’ll be giving away THREE FREE electronic copies of my novel “Leaving the Comfort Café.”

Also, if you sign up to follow my blog ( and leave a comment to say you came from Kat’s site, when my next book comes out (hopefully in July), I’ll give you a coupon for a FREE copy. Just leave your e-mail address, and I promise I won’t spam you. I don’t know how to do that. And it’s not cool. Seriously.

I’ll be addressing some of the most common questions I get asked as a writer, and feel free to comment / leave other questions, and I’ll answer them as well.

I grew up in the semi-rural Southern Appalachian mountains, and that has a great influence on my writing, particularly on “Leaving the Comfort Café” and “Welcome to Shangri-La, North Carolina.” If you are from the South (or even if you aren’t) I promise you, you will know these characters. Someone once told me that people in the South will “do anything for you and anything to you,” and I think that’s right.

North Carolina is a wonderful mix of crazy contradictions---ones that I think I didn’t realize had an effect on me until much later. It’s the home of some of the best research universities in the United States, and it is also home of the hollering contest and the largest frying pan in the world (yes, I’ve seen it).

I currently live in an Eastern NC town that was home to the great novelists Alan Gurganus and Kaye Gibbons-----and just the other week, our hometown newspaper ran a front-page story about a guy who stole an elevator. You read that right. An elevator. (I mean, who looks at an elevator and says, “Damn, that’s a fine elevator. Wish it were mine. Earl, you still got that crane I guess any area can claim such contradictions, but it seems very pronounced to me in North Carolina.

So here’s some information about my most recent novel, “Leaving the Comfort Café:”

Blythe Shelley got a 1600 on her SAT and a full scholarship to Cornell University.
But she never went.
Instead, she took a job as a waitress at the Comfort Cafe in Conyers, North Carolina...
Austin Parker wanted to follow his college crush to New York City, but a slumping economy prompted him to take a job as town manager of Conyers, where his master's degree was no match for the well-oiled machine of "good ol' boy" Southern politics.

Austin goes to the Comfort Cafe to sample its famous raspberry pie, but he gets much more than dessert---he gets a dose of Blythe, who brings a splash of color into his gray-flannel world.

And my first published novel, “Saint Jude”

Saint Jude, published in 2001 by Tudor Publishers, chronicles the journey of a teen with bipolar disorder. It was selected as one of the year's best reads for young adults in 2004. Taylor is devastated when her mother commits her to St. Jude's Brick House, an outpatient program for teens with "problems."

High-strung Taylor is convinced her divorced mother is just tired of dealing with her troubled
daughter. Diagnosed as bipolar, Taylor hates her condition, fights depression, and has setbacks. She also begins to question the methods used to treat patients and to wonder why most of the kids seem to be going nowhere in their treatments…

Both of these were “traditionally” published, but since they are out of print now, I’ve moved them over to Kindle and Smashwords, where thankfully, they are both doing well.

And my short story collection “Welcome to Shangri-La North Carolina.”

These short stories were written as a part of my master’s thesis workshops. I have my master’s in English/ creative writing. One of the short stories was a semi-finalist for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize. If you’d like to sample a story from the collection, you can get “This is Not Barcelona” as a single for 99 cents. It’s about this girl supporting her boyfriend’s musical dreams----dreams that don’t seem to be going anywhere.

I’ve tied all the short stories together under the fictional town of Shangri-La, North Carolina. And yes, there is a rooster. His name is Mr. Bockers and he darn near took over my story. I put this collection straight onto Kindle because I know that short story collections are notoriously hard to sell.

I might want to point out that although “Café” is a romance novel, it’s not erotica, and it is very character driven. There aren’t any (insert Barry White music here) scenes. They say write what you know, and I was raised Baptist, and as you know, we’re only raised from the neck up J

You can download samples of these from Kindle, and you can also read some of my short stories online for FREE by going There’s even a link to a live reading from “Leaving the Comfort Café,” (and I don’t charge extra for the Eastern North Carolina accent ).

But what I’m REALLY excited about is my next upcoming novel. I’m trying to get it out by July but it seems everything is conspiring against me to get it out (family commitments, my day job, my love affair with George Clooney---only two of which are true. I’ll let you guess which two.)

This novel, “Ten Thousand New Year’s Eves,” follows six couples between December 31 and January 1. Some of them are heading to New York, some are headed to their hometowns, but all of them are trying to put their lives back together. The main character, Mallory, has synesthesia, which means that she sees letters in color---even when the letters are in black and white, like a newspaper.

The biggest challenge with this book has been that every other chapter focuses on a different character, and thus, the points of view shift. In addition, all of these characters are closely connected and related in a “six degree of separation” kind of thing, only they don’t know it –only the reader does. There’s even a short chapter done from the point of view of a dog. Because of this, it has been a challenge, because while the manuscript is supposed to be somewhat chaotic, it is NOT supposed to be confusing. The reader “bounces” from character to character, but it has to be absolutely clear at all times where the reader is, who the reader is with, and the thematic continuity needs to be exceptionally strong to connect these pieces and pull it all off.

I start the novel with one of my favorite quotes. It sets the stage for the entire novel.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. What we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

All things are bound together.

All things connect.”

---Chief Seattle


Below is FIRST GLANCE DEBUT excerpt (seriously, excerpts of this have never been posted anywhere, so this is truly a sneak peak, all rights reserved, copyrights, yada, yada, yada)


Raleigh, North Carolina

Target Parking Lot

His passport is cool and smooth under my fingers, and I send them dancing along the traces of his chin, his check, the base of his ear. I rub my thumb along the serpentine swirls of his black hair, drawing back nothing but a calm emptiness instead of resistance from his coarse curls. I can barely see the small scar on the right side of his lip where, as a child, he was on the wrong end of a grouchy neighborhood cat; it is faint and there is no way it could be seen in the photograph without knowing it was there beforehand. From there, my thumb moves to my favorite part of the passport, the multicolored letters that dance and swoon in the morning light, intensified by the sunbeams that stream through my windshield. I like the way his name looks. I always have. I told him this the first time we met, but he laughed at me.

“Synesthetes think everything is beautiful,” he told me, and scribbled something in his notebook. “The one before you loved eggs just because the way the purple g and the bright yellow e melded together.”

But my g’s are not purple and my e’s are more of a soft lilac, so soft and flowery I can almost smell it. I told him that and he wrote furiously in his notebook. I don’t know why the department doesn’t get him a laptop or one of those iPads. He likes that my e’s and g’s are different from the last person. At least, he likes it for his research project.

Even his passport number is beautiful. Zero is the only number that is black. Always. Nothingness. Oblivion. My 1 is always red, and David has three of them in his passport number. Blood red. It stands out like a blinking spotlight or fire truck, providing perfect contrast to the zero. And 2 is yellow, a beaming, warm, lemon yellow, so powerful and crisp I can almost taste its sour and bitter brightness on my lips. If his passport number could be improved at all, I would say it needed a few more 3s, which are the same shade of blue as the British Union Jack. My 4 is green, 5 is brown and 6 is purple….but 7, my 7 is interesting.

My number 7 is what got David to notice me. My 7 changes colors depending upon what mood I’m in, like my own neurological mood ring. It ranges from the zero black to burgundy to chartreuse to this strange, sickly shade of gray that is the same color as a bruise when it is trying to heal. My 8 is just a softer version of the 7—the same hue but kind of fuzzy around the edges and about a half a shade lighter. The 7 got me on the radar of the university. On the schedule of Dr. David Yates. He’s even going to try to get them to up my mileage reimbursement because of all the stuff going on in the world that’s screwing with the oil prices. But I don’t mind the drive. Twenty minutes is just the right amount of time to let me gear down from a day of chasing down spreadsheets for Williams and Williams, CPA.

I’m keeping his passport safe for him. He left it on his kitchen counter the other morning, right beside the stove. I saw it through the corner of my eye. I wanted to surprise him with breakfast, eggs over easy, those free-range eggs from happy chickens which I swear taste better than anything you can buy at the store. The back right burner on his stove was the largest one, but closest to the passport and I didn’t want it to get over heated and –who leaves a passport right out in the kitchen like that? You’re supposed to keep it in a safe or something, I mean, really--- and David may be brilliant but he’s a disorganized mess and the passport would disappear beneath the junk mail Mount Everest on his coffee table, so it only made sense for me to slide it into my purse until I could get it to him.

…next session was the week of Christmas, but he wasn’t in his office.

“You should have known he wouldn’t be in the week of Christmas,” Rochelle told me. “No one’s in their office the week of Christmas.”

“He’s Jewish.”

“Well, the Jews go to Christmas parties, too,” she says. “Some of the hardest partying people I know are Jews.”

Rochelle doesn’t like him. She says Dr. Yates will just write a textbook about my unusual seven that will be used in universities across the country and he’ll be nominated for one of those genius grants and fame and fortune without me getting a dollar of it.

Sometimes I’m drawn to the way a name looks the same way some people are drawn to a voice or hairstyle or eye color, which of course, was the whole point of David’s study.

Y = A deep purple, the same shade I imagine the biblical Lydia using for the robes and capes she sold to the Romans

T = A maize yellow—like the crayon that used to come in the Crayola 64 pack.

E = Lilac. My favorite flower.

S = Goldenrod.

Yates. The name reminds me of the poet. His name looks like a lilac-- flowery, fragrant, and dense like the hundreds of scattered wildflowers that bloom deep in the valley. When I came across the ad in the paper, it was his name---not the promise of compensation for furthering the advances of science—that prompted me to participate.

So every Tuesday and Thursday I work through my lunch hour so I can get off an hour early and beat the rush hour traffic to the office on the East Campus of Duke University. He has me fill out forms, watch black-and-white silent films (I see the subtitles in color, even though the movie is black and white) do the whole rat in the maze thing. Push the lever for cheese. Dodge traffic on the beltline outside of Raleigh to get there on time. Every Tuesday and Thursday slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.

He thinks I’m the most fascinating person in the world. Especially since I don’t see orange. I mean, I see orange- --I know the color, I understand what it looks like, but it doesn’t have an association with a name or a letter or number. That surprised Dr. Yates. But everything about me surprises him. Just like it surprised me when I learned that most people don’t see numbers and letters in color, that the newspaper was just a binary code of black, white and maybe some gray. Which I guess is why I never got the old joke, ‘what’s black and white and read all over?’ My newspaper was colorful. Not just photos and graphs and headlines, but every letter meshed together to give the story its own personality and song. It was as if I could tell the tone of the story just by looking at the colors.

“I wish I could see what you see,” Dr. Yates told me after our last session. “So dynamic. Such a gift.” When he gets excited about something he runs his fingers through his mop of curly black hair, causing part of it frizz and stand up in back---like a younger and better-looking version of Einstien.

I liked Dr. Yates because he had only just gotten his PhD and was coming out of the starting gate full force like a Kentucky thoroughbred, optimistic and on fire for changing the world, not weaving in shark-like circles around the psychology department like some of those cynical university research fossils that just wanted to publish, publish, and publish so they could get tenure. David –--he lets me call him David, though I don’t think it looks as pretty as Yates---wanted to break new ground, learn about the mysteries of the world around him. Every time I spoke with him, his deep brown eyes lit up with a wondrous spark as if he were a kid at Disneyworld. The jaded world of academia hadn’t reached his psyche yet.

I flip through the passport to once again see all the places he’s been—once to the Bahamas, once to Canada and five stamps for London. Its 10 a.m. and Rochelle was supposed to meet me here an hour ago. I wish I had brought a book to read. She said for me to meet her in the Target parking lot for my birthday present. I was born December 29, so whenever someone makes the extra effort to get me a little something extra even after all the frenzied Christmas over-spending, it’s kind of special. That’s why I put up with her. I put up with a lot from her.

Rochelle’s meeting me in the Target parking lot because the inside, the store it too colorful for me. When I first told Rochelle Target was too colorful for me, she thought I was being metaphorical. Artsy. Been spending too much time in the community college poetry classes. I had to actually explain that it was literally too colorful, a complete smorgasbord of sensory overload, and that I’m not able to go into any big box store without having at least two panic attacks. There isn’t enough Xanax in the world to get me through the Super Wal-Mart. I do a lot of shopping online. That way, the colors are confined to my 15-inch screen; they aren’t jumping and diving and leaping at my face with promises of discounts, buy one get one free and last chance clearance.

Rochelle doesn’t understand. Most people don’t. They don’t realize that you can’t partition your senses like office cubicles—senses are supposed to flow over and around you and through you, like the yellow-lime that hovers about 60 centimeters from my right shoulder whenever I hear the letter ‘s.’

Synesthesia. From the Greek: syn = together. Aesthesia = sensation. The senses cannot be compartmentalized. They should flow around and above and between you, like waves of water, like the mist of rain drizzling on your car windshield, like the syrupy sweet sent of honeysuckle that you smell long before you actually see the flowers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed that. It required me to do some research on synesthesia, which is absolutely fascinating.

And now….

Okay, here’s my TOP TEN QUALITIES of a GREAT leading man / character:

(in no particular order)
1) Handsome --- goes without saying that he should be cute, but if he spends more time in the mirror than you do, he’s in danger of just becoming another “pretty boy.”
2) Manly, yet sensitive--- men and women are different. Nothing wrong with that. He should be sensitive, but still not be so Dr. Phil that he loses some of his manly qualities (both endearing and annoying)
3) Got to be good in a fist fight. And able to swim. I don’t know why I said that, but I can’t imagine a leading man who can’t swim. Imagine if James Bond’s helicopter crashed in the ocean and – “Oh crap! Where’s my bloody floatation device?” Not gonna happen.
4) Different--- We don’t want him to be a stereotype. Give him something unique.
5) Think outside the box—because the status quo doesn’t always work.
6) Have a sense of justice – because, dude, he’s the protagonist.
7) Flawed—and working on it. Any leading man that is all perfect is too good to be true …and I don’t buy him as a true character. Remember, if he’s interesting, he’s got issues. We just don’t want him to be a magazine rack.

8) Smart. I confess, I like geeks. Though even geeks can be cute. (Heck, Indiana Jones is kind of geeky if you think about it. He’s a history buff and a college professor).

9 )It’s not all about him. He knows there’s more to the world than his Xbox (whether or not he’ll admit it)
10) Funny—he doesn’t have to be Ben Stiller, but he does have to have a bit of a sense of humor. A smart man with a sense of humor will get you through a lot.

Examples of my fave leading men in literature and movies: Mr. Darcy, Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Heathcliff (though he’s in dire need of some therapy), Neo, Aragorn, and the Chairman (Memoirs of a Geisha).

Examples of leading men that are a bit too much of a leading man (i.e. I like lasagna, I just don’t want it every day): James Bond, Captain Kirk.

I’m often asked what other writers inspire me---who are the guys who really got me hooked on writing?

There are so many. Ray Bradbury short stories and Rod Searling’s original “Twilight Zone” series had a big influence on me, though I don’t write in that genre. I also remember rabidly following the whole Taran Wanderer series by Lloyd Alexander when I was in 4thgrade.

Oh, and the leading man of the classic early film decades I’d love to be romantically involved with?

I was hoping there was a way to squeeze Robert Redford in there, but if you’re talking 30s-50s, I found myself going back to Cary Grant. A classic. I also love the young Marlon Brando, but I just can’t get past that “wife beater” shirt he wore in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and his tore up character in “Apocalypse Now.”

Plus, Cary Grant is a Brit. And I love the Brits. Any single Brits out there, give me a call.

Thanks so much for having me.

Feel free to post questions, etc. and I’ll comment back.

Thanks so much to Kat and all the wonderful indie writers out there.

Friday, July 1, 2011

ARC Giveaway - Cheryl Crane's The Bad Always Die Twice

Hey, readers, here's your chance to win an advanced print proof of what looks to be a sexy suspense. I came into possession of an extra copy of Cheryl Crane's upcoming The Bad Always Die Twice, so I'm keeping one and giving away the other. Here's the blurb:

Set in Hollywood, The Bad Always Die Twice is the first of a wildly entertaining series set amidst the bright lights, big egos, and Botoxed brows of Hollywood. It is partly the glitz and glamour of Jackie Collins novels and partly the LA streets of hard-boiled James Ellroy.

Who better to tell this tale than Cheryl Crane, daughter of Hollywood legend Lana Turner and actor-restaurateur Joseph Stephen Crane? Cheryl was involved in the Johnny Stompanato scandal of the same period. She allegedly killed the hoodlum because he threatened to kill her mother.

This mystery features Nicki Harper, the daughter of a screen goddess, who is raised in a completely dysfunctional home populated by a cast of crazies but who did not follow in her mother's footsteps. Instead, Nikki is a real estate agent who wants a quiet, comfortable life with a little love and happiness thrown in.

Up until now, Nicki always thought that dead meant dead. But then, film icon Rex March turns up freshly murdered in the bed of Nicki's best friend after being reported dead six months ago. A little distrustful of law enforcement, Nicki feels compelled to solve the murder on her own. Her acquaintances range from the pinnacle of Hollywood royalty to the bottom of Tinseltown's barrel, including a not-so-grieving widow, a conniving younger lover, a best friend with secrets, a jilted mistress, a ''closeted'' confidante, a wacky neighbor, and a scheming business partner. Rex has a gaping hole where his eye used to be, and Nicki knows a lot of people with motives for the murder. The killer is getting ready for a repeat performance, so Nicki must act fast before her own screen fades to black.

The comparisons to Ellroy are enough for me; I love his work. If you love sultry Tinseltown tales, just comment on this blog to enter. I'll make this international eligible, so it doesn't matter where you're from. This is a two-day giveaway so don't hesitate. If one person comments, that person wins, so get your name in there.

Le Roolz: Entrants must be age 18 and older. No purchase necessary to win. Comments must be time-stamped on today or tomorrow,  July 1 and 2, 2011 to be eligible. ARC is received by Kensington Books.

Good luck!

Geddy Lee Friday - Summertime

What happened in Vegas last week, thankfully, ended up on YouTube: