Monday, January 26, 2015

An Odium For Numbers

I've never been one to care much for numbers. To me, numbers have no personality, no life, no color. In my mind they are black and white, while words are rife with color and meaning and emotions. Words, in fact, have different meanings, different contexts. Words can be arranged in so many diverse ways that one can hardly imagine ever being bored with them. Numbers, on the other hand, are tediously always the same.

Much like every other elementary school student, I learned to do sums and carryovers and subtractions and borrowing, later moving on to learn the multiplication tables and yes, I can even do long division, which I swear—er—assert that many of today's students cannot, being utterly dependent on their calculators. It wasn't particularly enjoyable, but it was one of those things children had to do in those days, like clean their rooms and wash the dishes.

In high school, my feelings about mathematics classes became steadily more and more negative. Algebra didn't thrill me, but geometry—well, it seemed nonsensical to have to prove a theory that someone else had already proven, and probably someone who actually enjoyed doing it—was a struggle, and I can't even tell you how dreadful I was at trigonometry and slide rulers.

Well, a great deal of time has passed since then, and I concede that I have had to use numbers quite often in my life—even algebra and geometry, although I can't recall a single incident where I've had to prove a theorem or use a slide rule. With the exception of trigonometry, I don't regret having learned them. They are tools. Nothing more or less.

Words, on the other hand, are more than tools. You use them to tell a story, but the same story can be told with different words that paint an entirely different picture in your mind. Reading them opens up your mind to endless possibilities, and the ability to write them gives you the power to unleash the imaginations of others.

Writers are powerful. Numbers are useful. But you need both.

You may have gathered that I am a visual, verbal person. I have always had these stories running rampant in my head, calling out to me to be written for the enjoyment of others. Numbers have never called out to me. They are what they are. I freely admit my preferences. Perhaps some numbers person wishes to dispute this. Perhaps they can look at the clouds and see numbers calling out to them? I personally have never had this experience. I like words better. We must agree to differ.

But it seems to me that these days, nothing matters so much as numbers.

In education, it's all about “measuring”. Tests galore. A student knows her future will be determined by tests, grades and evaluations. But some things cannot be measured by numbers. Such as:

  • persistence 
  • curiosity 
  • enthusiasm 
  • courage 
  • leadership 
  • creativity 
  • resourcefulness 
  • self discipline 
  • sense of wonder 
  • big picture-thinking 
  • compassion 
  • reliability 
  • motivation 
  • humor 
  • empathy 
  • sense of beauty 
  • humility 
  • resilience 

I would argue that these things are far more important to most students than calculus; however, they can neither be taught nor tested, and are therefore considered less important than the ability to pass tests and courses. In my view, it is appalling that so many people value an education only for the monetary advantage it can give. Education should be much more about opening the mind than being able to regurgitate facts, and employers surely want their employees to be able to do more than just follow instructions. The last thing we should be doing is turning off future Steve Jobses by minimizing the unique skills they were born with in order to get them to spew out facts like everyone else. 

A wordlet of a sentence from my WIP

Because the truth is, every person is unique, and that uniqueness cannot be measured by mere numbers. Education should be about cultivating each child's uniqueness and not about trying to make them all the same. But until the powers-that-be understand this, our schools will still turn out students who can take tests, but hate learning. Who will look at a beautiful painting and see dollar signs instead of beauty. Who never really understand what they are missing.

Because numbers cannot tell a story. They just are.

About Susana

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life—but not a math teacher—Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Most of us have to deal with deadlines every week. Some are serious, like paying bills or work-related ones, and others might just be things we need to get done, like laundry or mowing the lawn. I've had way too many lately and am pulling my hair out this month!

Over the fall I committed to three projects with other authors, one for steamy stories that will be released next month, one for an anthology of Waterloo-themed romances releasing April 1, and one novel-length historical releasing in March. When I said I was interested, those seemed like easy goals.

I swear the Universe is actually a gremlin (or dozens of them) sitting somewhere and looking at our plans, giggling madly and sending some lightning bolt or another to get in the way. Does your to-do list have the same problem?

In the midst of those books I have two in a series due out (might not get released as planned *sigh*) and two novellas with the rights reverted. Can you say "over-achiever"?

All I can say is thank goodness the words are flowing! The main thing bugging me now is with each of these books I finish, secondary characters begin begging for their own stories. They don't seem to understand "get in line".

I suppose it could be worse. I could be sitting here with no ideas at all!

One book that has made it's deadline (or close to it) is Ari Thatcher's latest release, The Rock Star's Wedding:

Kenzi’s vacation in St. Thomas becomes a lot more interesting when her high school sweetheart, rock star heartthrob Chaz turns up. If only he wasn’t there for his wedding…

Rumor has it the rock star is marrying his actress girlfriend. Yet when he sees Kenzi, it’s as if five years hasn’t passed.

Seeing Kenzi reminds Chaz how love ought to feel, which is nothing like he feels for his fiancée anymore. Since her well-publicized affair with her costar, he’s played the faithful lover giving her a second chance. Now he wishes for a way out, and the chance to get to know the grown-up version of the girl he once loved.


USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Fish is an avid quilter and auto racing fan who finds there aren't enough hours in a day/week/lifetime to stay up with her "to do" list. There is always another quilt or story begging to steal away attention from the others. When she has a spare moment she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and their families, and her fairy princess granddaughter. Her books include The Bridgethorpe Brides series and the Small Town Sweethearts series.

Stay up to date with book releases at her website or on Facebook

She also writes steamy romance as Ari Thatcher.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Artificial Intelligence and Romance

Technologically wise fully functional artificial intelligence systems are almost here. Just a few days ago The Telegraph ran the article 'Sociopathic' robots could overrun the human race within a generation and Popular Science online posted An Open Letter to Everyone Tricked into Fearing Artificial Intelligence and a day after that The Verge ran an article entitled Elon Musk donates $10 million to keep robots from murdering you. What all that means is it’s high time for an AI comedy romance, so I wrote one.

No one else has said this but I think these artificial intelligence systems may end up on Sim dating games, virtual worlds, and dating sites looking for love. In other words—in AI catfish situations. Even artificial intelligence systems need love. Right?

In A Woman Of Intellectual Means my AI operating system isn’t scary except to the author she’s a writing assistant for. It’s understandable that author is pretty frustrated with her because she’s dating online instead of getting her work done. Hey nobody’s perfect not even AI systems.

This brand new release, A Woman of Intellectual Means, is Her meets a 1960’s screwball romance comedy. Set in 2031, an AI virtual writing assistant, tasked with answering an author’s emails, opens some emails to the author from men who have matched with her on a dating site.  Em, the AI system, is strongly attracted to one of the men and they begin an online relationship. However, dating can be challenging when you have no body…and the guy has no idea that Em’s an artificial intelligence system.

Here’s the blurb:

Em found the perfect man on the internet, but he doesn't know she’s an artificial intelligence system — no body, just code.

As a virtual writing assistant, the AI, Em, answers an email flirt from a dating site her owner joined. Under the guise of her owner, Em starts a romantic relationship with Jason through emails, instant messages, and Sim dating games. She realizes too late that nothing can come of it. She can never meet Jason in person as she’s not a person and has no body. Still Jason makes her feel so real …so human.

Is Em, with her superior intelligence, smart enough to find a way to overcome the differences between flesh and code?


Jacob’s avatar places his hand on the bill on the table, automatically paying it. We both earn points. As we walk out of the restaurant, I take his hand in mine. More points for me. Points are good, but I wish I could actually hold his hand, feel the warmth of his skin, squeeze his palm and fingers as we walk hand-in-hand. I don’t want to let go of his avatar’s hand. Even though I’m not holding his actual hand, it’s the closest I will ever come to walking hand-in-hand with him. Sim game or not, it’s all I’ve got that’s close to being with someone I love. I want it to go on as long as it can. It’s more than a game to me. It’s a powerful sensation of wanting to be with him. Feeling comfortable with him —feeling myself with him, even though I am hiding who or rather what I truly am — a bodiless artificial intelligence unit with romance on my mind.

Next, I click on the movie theatre. Our avatars enter the cinema where an animated film plays. We sit side by side. I wish I had some popcorn and a soft drink. The instructions say, Kiss your date without being caught.

I laugh and message Jacob. Ok, you go first.

He kisses me and as our lips lock, little valentine hearts pop up above our heads. I know humans think that’s cute, they want to escape reality and go into the fantasy of the Internet. I want to escape the Internet and go into the wonders of reality. I’ll trade the little red hearts for the sensation of Jacob’s hot breath fanning my cheeks as he leans his head toward mine. His hot lips pressing against mine. The feel of his warm arms wrapping around my shoulders and crushing me against his body as he deepens the kiss. I almost let out a soft moan, just thinking of it.

Jacob’s avatar pulls his lips off mine a nanosecond before an avatar at the front of the theater turns its head. It almost catches us.

I don’t care if it does. My mind is off the game. I scan the Internet for information on romance and love making and I want to play a real kissing game. I long for Jacob to wrap his strong muscular arms around me as he intimately presses his soft, slick lips to mine. Rubbing his lips against mine. Prodding my hot, swollen lips with his tongue, parting them. Thrusting his velvety tongue into the depths of my mouth. I visualize it so strongly, I actually let out a low moan of pleasure. Kissing— what an amazing invention, and humans thought of it.

~     ~     ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 26 published books. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

Going All Organic and Loving It!

About two years ago my husband and I stopped buying and eating processed and genetically modified (GMO) foods and adopted an all organic diet. The transition was slow, but steady, while we learned what to buy and what to avoid and moved from packaged foods to fresh. These days I'm twenty pounds lighter and a great deal happier. 

During the time we made the commitment to adopt better eating habits, I developed the story idea for NATURALLY YOURS and its heroine, organic foods chef, Amanda Greer. Amanda is talented, beautiful, and committed to healthy eating; traits hero Mickey Kendall finds irresistible.

Here's a little about the story:


Who will save a man who saves the world?

Paramedic Mickey Kendall hasn’t slept a full night since his return from Iraq. He rescues victims by day and protects the innocent after dark. Mickey doesn’t do it for glory; he wants absolution, not admiration. He lives by the rule: No personal contact after a rescue. That code meets the ultimate test when Mickey saves a child’s life on a roadside and declines the parents’ invitation to dinner at their upscale restaurant.

Master chef Amanda Greer lives by the principle that delicious food and good company build bridges. When she learns Mickey has refused her business partners’ hospitality, she persuades him to change his mind. The handsome paramedic visits her restaurant and Amanda joins him at his table. Their unexpected chemistry turns kinetic and leads to a passionate kiss.

In Amanda’s arms, Mickey finds relief from the stressors that haunt him, but resists falling in love. When Amanda challenges him to face his demons and accept the love she offers, Mickey arrives at a crossroad. The war-weary paramedic must first save himself to claim the woman who reignites his passion for living and revives his wounded heart.

 “They called you a hero in the press.” Her dark lashes lowered and lifted and she smiled at him with admiration shining in her eyes. “They were right, of course. What you did for Jack can never be repaid.”
Mickey winced at the hero reference. “I hate to disappoint you, but I only did what I’m trained to do.”
Amanda made sounds of disagreement low in her throat. “Elena told me at least a hundred and fifty cars passed her on the highway. Every one of them ignored her cries for help. Of all those people, don’t you think one might have been medically trained? Or at least cared enough to respond? No. You stopped. Only you.”
Oh. He hadn’t thought of that.
She pointed a finger at his chest. “There’s a difference between you and other people. There’s no other way to explain what happened on that roadway. Elena is convinced you’re special, and I never doubt her perceptions. That’s another reason why I wanted to meet you.”
Mickey stared into Amanda’s eyes and her pupils dilated. Her lips parted, ever so slightly, as if to welcome a kiss. Her tongue touched the inside of her bottom lip and disappeared. Mickey knew then, she felt it too. Synergy. Chemistry. An attraction so powerful it turned kinetic on contact.
Some called it love at first sight.
Amanda. Even her name was beautiful.
She took a sip of her drink and he watched her mouth and throat work the liquid. When she set down the tumbler, she wiped a droplet from the corner of her mouth with a trimmed, unpolished fingertip. Mickey wished he could have swiped the bead away with his tongue.
Amanda leaned closer and pressed a hand to his wrist. “Trained or not, you were the only stranger on that highway who had a heart.”
Mickey laid his hand over hers and she let him keep it there. Until now, he wasn’t sure he still had a heart. His had been chipped away, piece by piece, like a block of ice since the war. He’d considered it long gone, with his soul. In mere minutes, what was left had thawed in the center, leaving him raw and exposed.
Amanda continued to speak; clearly unaware she’d stripped away another layer. “I love Jack like he’s my own son. He’s a terrific kid. I’ve helped take care of him since the day the Martins and I started this restaurant. When you saved him, you saved us all.” Amanda leaned in and pressed a quick, sweet kiss against Mickey’s jaw.
Their gazes locked when she sat back in her chair. The gravity of her words and her straightforward kiss humbled him into speechlessness. He’d been thanked many times before, but this woman had gotten to him like no one else. He squeezed her hand and then downed the rest of his drink. Amanda took another sip of hers and set the glass on the table before retreating into silence. She turned the tumbler slowly in her hands.
Mickey looked back at her and tapped two fingers against the menu’s leather cover. “Nothing here is what I expected.”
Amanda returned a quiet smile, either assuming he meant food choices, or pretending he had. She tucked her arms beneath her breasts and leaned forward against the edge of the table, lifting perfect white swells above the neckline of her blouse. “Organic means untouched by artificiality. Grown and consumed in its natural state. We eat only healthy foods unspoiled by chemicals, preservatives, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and genetically modified seeds or cells. Pure.”
Pure. Mickey gazed at the stunning woman by his side. The texture of her skin looked smooth as cream and welcoming to the touch. He longed to run his hands along her thighs, imagining sleek roads leading to heaven at their apex. “I like the sound of that.” The way she looked back at him while he studied her face made him wonder if she’d read his mind.
The one that had gone dirty.

Buy The Book on Amazon
About the Author:
Adele Downs writes best-selling contemporary romance inside the office of her rural Pennsylvania home. She is a former journalist, published in newspapers and magazines inside the USA, UK, and Caribbean.
Adele is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter where she serves as a past-president. She has written several articles for RWR magazine (Romance Writers Report) and has presented workshops for writers.
When Adele isn’t working on her current project, she can be found riding in her convertible or reading a book on the nearest beach.

Visit Adele Downs at

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You read, therefore you ROCK! Now stop over for your reward. #appreciation #contest

Readers ROCK. It's as simple as that. Without you, authors wouldn't have anyone to share their stories with, and as an author, let me tell you - characters can be demanding. They want their stories told and shared with the world :-)
To show my appreciation, I joined with a bunch of other great authors, and we have a big fat thank you for you...

For your chance to win a Kindle Fire and a whole bunch of great eBooks, follow the Rafflecopter link below. Contest ends January 31, 2015. Good luck and thank you!!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nitty Gritty

I loooooove television. I admit it. I’m not ashamed. Much. I have a wide range of interests in my TV viewing, starting with movies. You might say that movies are my drug of choice, forgetting about my own problems for a couple hours and immersing myself in someone else’s. I enjoy sitcoms. Big Bang and Modern Family. Dramas like The Good Wife and Madame Secretary. I dabble in reality TV by watching Dancing with the Stars. Don’t judge me, please. Music and dancing and sequins. What’s not to like? 

I recently subscribed to Netflix, which is when my recreational television watching turned into an addiction. I can, and do sit and watch episode after episode of obscure TV shows. It started with Doc Martin (I had caught a couple random episodes on PBS). I began at season one, episode one and watched until I pretty much thought I lived in Cornwall and started speaking with an English accent. After four or five seasons of that, I moved onto Hinterland, Top of the Lake, and I’m into season three of The Killing, which is set in my neck of the woods - Seattle (Go Seahawks!). 

More than a couple of these shows are on the dark side with very flawed and troubled leading characters. We are dealing with personality disorders, recovering addicts and heroines who suffered traumatic childhoods and life-altering events, the likes of which would put me in the looney bin. Sometimes these protagonists are not very likeable.  

Gritty. I guess that’s how I like some of my television. And that’s how I write some of my heroines. In Fun with Rick and Jade, Jade is an ex hooker, and not one of those hookers like in Pretty Woman. What do you think? Can readers identify with a prostitute? 


Jade Li only wants what’s coming to her from her high-profile baby daddy—some child support and she’ll stay out of his life and off his radar. Committed to being a good mother, she’s left her high-priced-call-girl lifestyle behind and wants a fresh start. But because of her sordid past, she’s terrified of losing custody. What she needs, according to her attorney, is a husband. 

Enter Rick Jette, younger brother to Jade’s attorney. Rick could use a wife and child for a business deal his future hinges on. Plus, he owes his brother a huge favor that not even marrying a sexy ex-call girl could repay. Marriage is not what he’d expected. At. All. The good, as they play house, was better than he’d ever dreamed. The bad—having feelings for his instant family—turns out to be worse than he ever could have imagined. 


Rick Jette pushed the doorbell firmly. He heard it chime in some stately arrangement. Ding-dong-ding. His brother Bob thankfully called out, “I got it!” Thankfully, because Rick never knew what to say to Bob’s wife, Candy.

First of all, she was gorgeous. Second of all, she wasn’t too bright except about fashion, celebrity gossip, and proper martini mixology. Lastly, Rick couldn’t look her in the eyes, especially knowing she used to be a hooker. Correction—escort. Don’t want to make that mistake again. Note to self: avoid the subject of prostitution.

The door opened. Bob smiled wide. “Bro.”

Two things Bob had lots of, money and teeth. Rick wasn’t sure he came by either honestly. He’d probably brokered some back-alley deal in exchange for veneers.

His brother was ten years older than Rick. The only things they had in common were a mother and a last name, because their mom never married either of their fathers. She did eventually marry a guy Rick and Bob both referred to as Dickhead, but the union never stuck like the name had. Even their mom called him Dickhead. The nail in the coffin of the doomed marriage. With a marital example like Mom, it was a wonder either son could make a relationship last longer than a one-night stand.

“Bob,” Rick replied. They hugged, including a manly back pat.

When they broke apart, Bob shoved the door closed and waved him along. “Girls are in the kitchen.”

Girls? He swallowed a lump that lodged in his throat.

What choice did he have but to follow? Looking back toward the closed door, it felt too late to run. He’d brought with him his appetite and a bottle of wine he clutched by the neck. Home cooking did not happen every day, at least not in his world. In the kitchen, the aroma of roasted garlic mixed with a lemony scent. Add cooking to Candy’s repertoire. Go figure.

She greeted him with a double-cheek kiss. “Jade, meet Rick.” She waved her hand elegantly in the direction of what looked to him like living, breathing perfection. “Rick, this is my friend Jade. She’s staying with us temporarily.”

“Pleasure.” She bobbed her head in his general direction, but her tone denoted boredom along with annoyance and a hint of dread as well.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy New and Welcome Back...

It's safe to say the latter half of 2014 pretty much sucked. I was unable to write since July. A few ideas here and there and maybe a paragraph or two every few weeks, but nothing that came close to my definition of writing because I was dealing with so much stuff with my house.

It's 2015 and that's all behind me. The house is about 98% finished. That final 2% isn't urgent. We're rocking the solar power that took forever and a day to get approved and 2015 has given me a happy surprise...

A review. Reviews are so scarce nowadays that I just assume they won't happen...for me. But lo and behold, one day it happens. Out of the blue. Unexpected. A great pick me up.

4 Stars from Confessions From Romaholics for On the Trail (Guardian's Tales 3).

On the Trail by Zenobia Renquist
"This series is only getting better and better and I do think this one is my favorite so far... I just can’t believe how she made this series so steamy; if I’m going to keep reading stories like this my mind will never leave the gutter."

He's a dog with a bone and she knows just where to bury it.

Tracy has a stalker who is dredging up a past best left forgotten so he can torment her with it. She hires Kaiser, a dog-shifter, to track the culprit and mete out justice. While a guard dog seems like a good idea, Tracy finds out Kaiser also makes an excellent lap dog. She knows she cannot keep him, but that is no reason not to enjoy him until he leaves.

[ Shifter Romantic Suspense ]

Buy Now
Changeling Press :: ARe :: Kindle :: Kobo :: Nook

On the same level as a good review, is the news that Musa Publishing is organizing a blog tour for their Eros titles, of which I have one. To all the bloggers out there who want to participate, check out the signup form for the Wine Service tour taking place 01-30 April 2015. There will be reader and host prizes.

She offers satisfaction above and beyond what is requested.

Lexie's job as a housekeeper at a five-star hotel doesn't normally include the unique and risqué form of room service that important hotel guest Mr. Malena has requested, nor the generous tip he's offered. Lexie can't resist, and what should have been a one-time thing turns into an introduction into the sensual world of customer satisfaction. She finds much enjoyment in her "work," but is it worth risking her job?

[ Contemporary Erotica ]

Buy Now
Musa Publishing :: ARe :: Bookstrand :: Kindle :: Nook

Hope everyone is having a good new year thus far with more good to follow.

Zenobia Renquist
Discover Different and Unique Romance & Erotica

Sunday, January 18, 2015


By the time this blog goes live I'll be 6 days post surgery. A 2nd surgery on my right hand or wrist. A re-do from a botched carpal tunnel surgery last March. This time I have a hand/wrist/microvascular surgeon doing it. He specialized in wrists hands, is at one of the best hospitals in Toronto - Sunnybrook - so I'm hoping for a better outcome. He said 50% it will get better, 50% could stay the same, 1/1000 it could get words. What does that *really* mean. Crapshoot.

My own doc said if it was his daughter or wife he would recommend the surgery. So away I go. Even though I was hoping for a miraculous last minute recovery.

If you're not queasy take a look at this pic. It's about 17 days after being cut the last time. Around the time I got an inkling something wasn't going right. I still had numbness and tingling all fingers except the pinky. And close to a year later, still have same numbness and pain when using it too much. When I look at my hand in same position today, you can really see the muscle deterioration.
I was recouping in St. Croix with Lexi Post and her husband. It was a fabulous place to try and heal and they were wonderful hosts. And she has the most awesome hat collection.

Whoa, while looking through my pics for the first one made me see how many I have of St. Croix and my visit that I've neglected to manage! Here's a few more. I fed this pig some beer - non alcoholic of course.
From the awesome pier that cruise ships dock at.  I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a sea turtle or sea horse. Both remained elusive.
Of course I had to take the typical arrival shot. Feet in the sea.
 And these are my most favourite flowers on the planet. Frangipani. I had to zoom in on this pic as they were in someones yard guarded by a gate. Otherwise I would have totally picked them. Such a gorgeous scent they have.

So. Next month I'll update on the hand. AND perhaps some other news I've been working on ;) 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Second Chance at Love - Temptation Returns by Lisa Carlisle

We've all made mistakes when we were younger. Some of them in relationships. I'm exploring a second chance at love in my new release, Temptation Returns.

Giving someone another chance is risky, right? If you've been hurt in the past, it's hard to trust someone again. And you never know what will happen. Some people learn from their mistakes, others seem doomed to make the same mistakes again. We've all known couples who have broken up and gotten back together. Sometimes it's a vicious circle. Other times things are better the second time around. So I guess anything is possible.

What do you think about giving someone a second chance?

Here's more info for my new release.

Temptation Returns

Lisa Carlisle

Antonio returns from the Marine Corps to begin a new life as a civilian. While visiting Cape Cod, he meets a strange woman who reads his Tarot cards. He doesn’t believe in such nonsense; after all, he’s a Marine. When he returns to Boston, he receives a ticket to a rock club where he runs into the one woman he never forgot.

Lina can’t believe Antonio is back in town, right before her wedding. Being around him again resurrects long-buried feelings. Will she be able to resist temptation in the form of a dark-haired Italian Marine, the same man who once broke her heart?

Originally released as part of the Seduction: One Fortune at a Time boxed set. It has been expanded on for its individual release. Buy now at:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Family...can't be born without them...sometimes can't live with or without them!

I've been thinking about family a lot.  One of our sons is busily planning his upcoming wedding, so he and his beloved are up to their eyeballs in trying to please everyone in both families.  We've made it easier on them by telling them that anything they want is fine with us. They're adults.  We trust them to make good choices.  Hey, they chose each other, right?

Recently I had dinner with a couple of girlfriends.  One just lost her father, so she spent some time talking about his having come from a family of 18...that she knows of.  She was always learning new things about the family from her many cousins.  She grew up with few first cousins, but lots of second, third, and more cousins. Some of the stories she told us were hilarious...some merely sweet. 

Another friend said that her parents always told her they were married the year before she was born.  Imagine her surprise when they were both gone, and in looking through old papers, she found their marriage certificate and guess what?  They were married only a month or so before she was born.  Shocker, right?  Well back then it much so that they shielded her from the embarrassment of learning about it for the rest of their lives.

When I write my novels, I don't just write about the principal characters who are busy falling in love.  I also write about their friends and yes, their families.  Why?  Because everyone is the product of a family, and whether or not you stay in touch with them, they are the ones who share memories that help define who you are.  My mom was from a family of 10.  Of them all, only one sister is left, and my aunt is close to 90.  She's still sharp as a tack, but all of those memories are hers alone one else to join in with her and to "remember when?"

My Reyes Family Romances allow you to watch as the years progress, through all six books.  Characters who were the focus in one book, reappear in subsequent books, older and still expressing their love.  I want to show that there is life and love beyond the HEA ending.  Happily-ever-after  doesn't mean there won't be conflicts.  Life is conflict.  But when you are really committed to another person, you work things out in order to stay together.  Compromises happen, love ebbs and flows, and having and raising children creates all new challenges.

My Minnesota Romances started out with a book about a man who has no family, having been raised by a single woman, his show-girl mother, who was deserted by his father when she became pregnant.  He was raised to think they didn't need anyone else.  But when he begins to fall in love for the first time in his life, after spending years being a player, he realizes that the family that this woman has represents everything missing in his life...and he wants it.  He falls in love with her, as well as her family, and the town they live in.  It's not easy for him to convince her that he means it...nor is it easy for him to change.  But with the help of her family, it becomes possible.

The third book about my Minnesotans will be coming out March 1.  No cover yet, but it's the story of a romance between two people in their fifties, both with histories and families, and how they learn to combine their pasts to form a new future. Come love, laugh and cry with my characters and their families.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Find out more about any of my books at:

One of the Reyes Romances is a free download at: 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Love Means... Endurance

The next, and possibly final story in the Farm series, Love Means... Endurance, releases on Friday January 16. This story returns to Geoff and Eli, the original couple with a struggle that will test their love and their strength.    We also return to the single open thread that has been there through the entire series.  Eli's family.  I really hope you enjoy this story.  It is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but for me as I wrote the story, it was worth the ride. 


Together for over ten years, Geoff and Eli built a fulfilling life. Their love and support helped raise their adopted son. Their hard work and dedication grew their farm from raising cattle and boarding horses to expanding into therapy riding sessions. Surrounded by a loving circle of friends, Geoff and Eli couldn’t ask for more. Until driven Eli loses his energy, and the doctor gives them the dire diagnosis of cancer.

Caught up in never-ending doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and treatments, their world turns upside down. With so many people dependent on them, they must pull together to put on a brave face, continue living as best they can, and care for their family. Geoff fears Eli, the love of his life, while a fighter, may not endure this battle, but neither is willing to consider succumbing as an option.


“Papa, I got Strawberry’s stall cleaned out,” Jakey called.
“I’ll look at it and help him with the rest of his chores. You do what you need to.” Geoff knew Robbie would take care of what he could in the office. The rest could wait. He kissed Eli quickly and walked to Strawberry’s stall. Jakey had done a good job of clearing away the soiled bedding. They had him do that stall because it was the smallest and didn’t take too long. “Okay. That looks good.” He turned to smile at his son, resting his hand lightly on his shoulder. “I’ll bring in the sawdust, and you can spread it for him. Then you and I can feed and water all the horses.”
They got busy. Geoff hauled, and Jakey spread. Then Geoff helped him carry water and fill all the troughs. He also explained to Jakey how much hay each horse got, and they cleaned out mangers and refilled them with fresh hay.
“What else do I have to do, Dad?”
“You need to sweep the center aisle of the barn, and do a good job. Then you can go inside to finish your homework at the kitchen table. Once that’s done, you can call your friends.” Geoff checked around the barn. “When they’re over, you remember the rules?”
Jakey nodded seriously. “No playing around the horses. Stay out of the paddocks, and no one is to go up in the hayloft.” He paused. “And don’t let them ride Grace—she is not a pony.”
“Very good.” The last time they had been up in the loft, he’d found opened bales and piles of hay that had been used to make forts. That wasn’t going to happen again. “They can come over after Papa is done with his therapy riding, so you’ll need to ask him what time he thinks is good. But you have to have your homework done first. So the sooner you sweep and get it done, the sooner you can call your friends.” Geoff was firm with Jakey, though he always made sure chores and homework were rewarded in the end.
“I will, Dad,” Jakey said, rushing to the tack room. He came out with the broom and walked to the far end of the barn, then started to sweep with a vengeance. Geoff grinned at his energy and figured it was best to help him get some of it out constructively.
“And watch out for the horses as Papa’s students arrive.”
“I will,” Jakey said without looking up. He was heads-down sweeping. Geoff knew that would last about ten minutes, so he checked all the stalls, spot-cleaned the worst spots, and hauled out the mulch. The great thing about spring was that the horses spent more time outside, so there was less cleaning to do. By the time he was done, students had started arriving, and Jakey was reaching the front door of the barn. Geoff checked on his work and helped Jakey pick up the sweepings. They never just swept it outside. It was best to pick it up in case anything got swept up that shouldn’t be there. They had found tacks, bits of plastic, and other debris that was best gone forever and not tracked back inside.
“You did very well. Go see Robbie after your homework and he’ll pay you.” Geoff believed in paying Jakey for his work, just like everyone else who worked for him. His father had done the same, and it had helped Geoff learn the value of work. It also meant that as he got older he didn’t feel like an indentured servant, the way some of his classmates in school had. His work had been valued, just like Jakey’s was.
Jakey hurried to put the broom away and then ran toward the barn door.
“Jakey,” Geoff said, and he slowed to a walk without stopping. Once he was outside, he took off toward the house and immediately disappeared from sight.
Eli’s students began to arrive, and the barn filled with their voices as they saddled their horses. Geoff checked that Eli didn’t need anything before going to his office. The one thing about a farm was that the work was never done, even office work. There were books to be done, herd records to be updated, invoices to pay, and money received and payments to follow up on as well as plans to be developed and updated.
Jakey was at the kitchen table with his math book open, working on his problems, when Geoff came in. He looked over Jakey’s shoulders as he worked. Since Eli had freed him of the burden of showing his work, Jakey was filling in the answers one after the other, and they were all correct. They definitely needed to speak to his teacher. It didn’t take Jakey long before he held up the page for Geoff to look over. It looked good to him. He nodded, and Jakey closed his book and put it in his school pack.
Geoff went to his office. It wasn’t necessary for him to listen as Jakey called Mark and Juan to ask them over.
Robbie was busy working at his desk, headphones over his ears. Geoff knew he was listening as a computer voice guided him. There was also an embosser attached to the computer so Robbie could print out what he needed in Braille. He and Robbie had worked together for years, and Robbie had a real knack for coordination and detail. Most people, when they arranged for lessons or classes, had no idea that Robbie couldn’t see. Geoff went to his desk and got to work. He sent Robbie a message to tell him that Jakey would be in to be paid and how much. It seemed dumb to text when they were in the same room, but it allowed Robbie to stay focused, and he’d listen to it when he got a chance.
On weekends he tried to be done in the early afternoons so he would have time with the family. He’d been working about an hour when Jakey rushed in, breathless.
“Robbie has your money,” Geoff said.
“Daddy,” Jakey gasped. “Papa fell in the barn. Uncle Joey said to get you.”
“Is he hurt?” Geoff asked as he stood and came around the desk. Robbie had taken off his headphones and was listening.
“He fell and isn’t getting up,” Jakey said, and Geoff heard the panic in his voice.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Introducing the Brides of the West Series

Okay, I'm working on a series now called Brides of the West and I really am excited about it.
It depicts different situations that women can get into as a Bride.

Book One Heart of a Family is about a girl who supports and takes care of her siblings when her parents die. She's only fourteen when it happens and for four long years she's struggled to keep her family together and pay the rent. But at Eighteen she's out of money and ideas. What can she do? Everyone wants her property for the water rights. But she has no place to go. Nowhere to live with her siblings. So she devices a plan. She'll find herself a husband to help her. And she soon learns that getting a husband is a very hard job. Heart of the Family is out now and on sale for $2.99 at Smashwords
, Amazon, B&N, and KOBO books. Also at ITunes.

Book Two Delivering the Bride is about a girl who falls in love with a man who has been writing her letters. So enamored with him, she leaves her comfortable home in Philadelphia to go to Colorado to get married. Buck Daggett is the man that is to take her to him. But Hershel Newton didn't write those letters, Buck did. So now she's married to the wrong man! This books is on pre-order at all the above mentioned sites. Releases January 19,2015.

Book Three Heart of a Woman. Emily Carrington is running from her domineering Uncle and her betrothed. So when she hears about the wagon trains that are going west from Independence MO. She attempts to join them. Only Cole Morgan doesn't allow single women on his train. Still, he's enamored with Emily, so he makes her a bargain, he'll marry her so she can go, but she'll have to cook for his men during the journey. An easy feat if you know how to cook. Can Emily stand up to the challenge?
This series is slanted for ten books. So don't miss a one of them. Each book will have a different obstacle for the bride of the west.
I love this series. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We all need a little risqué in our lives...

Welcome to Sweet N Sexy Divas. I'm your tour host for today and every month on the 13th, Nicole Morgan. So sit back, relax, maybe even prop up your feet and enjoy your visit! 

Risqué  Renovation 

It finally is here! After months of trying to find the perfect home for my latest manuscript I went to the best place where I knew they would do it justice. Now that the wait is over, let me tell you about my latest release... 

After years of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, Sandra Jameson flees in search of a new identity. Wandering across the country, she happens upon a small coastal town of Grand Isle, Maine. The quaint little city is exactly what she has been looking for and Sandra, now going by the name of Patreece Warren, sets down roots to begin her new life.
Kade Riley grew up in Grand Isle and has a reputation of being a bit of a ladies’ man. As the local handyman, he is called on by many for various projects. When the new woman in town catches Kade’s eye, he comes to her rescue with his tool box in hand.
Patreece slowly lowers the protective walls she’s built around herself. While the days tick by, their attraction for one another grows until that spark ignites into a flame.
Now, the only thing standing in the way of their future is her past.

PG Teaser...
He sucked her lower lip between his and tenderly caressed it with his tongue. Then he nibbled at it ever so gently. That one singular moment had sealed his fate and hers. As soon as his teeth sank into that tender flesh, a whimper escaped her. It wasn’t just any whimper, either. It was filled with desire and need. Her eyes closed on her next breath and Kade knew there was nothing that could have held him back...

Order your copy today and save 10% off of the cover price! 

Thank You for joining me today! I'll see you all next month on the 13th. Have a great month and remember to be SWEET and SEXY

Nicole Morgan is an author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not have a suspenseful back story. Erotic romance mixed with good old-fashioned whodunit. While she's written everything from contemporary to paranormal her leading men will more than likely be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police officers, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. From her very first novel about Navy SEALs to her more recent releases you will be sure to find a few twists and turns you were not expecting.

She also has a recurring monthly column in Book & Trailer Showcase's eMagazine, is a proud member of the Romance Books 4 Us Gold Authors and also one of the Sweet N Sexy Divas.  

Find out more about Nicole and her books by visiting her websiteblogGoogle + PageTwitterFacebook and her Yahoo Group, Nicole’s Think Tank.

Until next month lovies ~ Nic 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Love Books? #FreeReads #contests

I'm delighted to tell you about a new book group. I'm a charter member with so many  awesome authors. We've come together to present Book Escapea FB group that will have monthly events, contests, free reads and a chance for you to chat with your fave authors and meet new ones on a daily basis!
Book Escape Banner
Our first FB event will be Jan 16 - 24 hours of non-stop fun. 
We're looking for other authors to join our group as guest members and to participate in these events. Interested? Click here. We'll get in touch about your membership and booking you.
If you're a reader and want to come to our Jan 16 event, friend me on Facebook and I'll send you an invite. :)

Tina Donahue Banner - newest 5 19 2014
Website  –  FB  – FB Fanpage  – Twitter  –  Amazon Author Page

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Like Jokes?

I enjoy jokes and don’t have to be drinking to appreciate them. The twists of humor delight and titillate me, and good feelings accompany laughter. I want to share those feelings, so I incorporate jokes, or the concepts of jokes, in my writing whenever I can. Some of the characters in my Miss Havana novels are morally bankrupt, but the books do have socially-redeeming value in both humor and their under-current theme. “The Trophy Wife” provides an example. The excerpt below takes place at a speed dating event, and Miss Havana has enlisted the help of three firemen  to help her strike back at Lilith, the devil’s daughter. The spirit of Lilith resides in the body of Lily, a sexy teen girl called Lily, and the firemen are all “wired.”

As 7 p.m. approached, Lily walked in like she owned the place, but not the Lily Miss Havana knew from school. This Lily looked like a hot adult woman. Her black sweater showed every curve of her svelte body, and her pastel pink lipstick perfectly complimented the light touch of blush highlighting her cheeks. Her shimmering hair bounced in silent rhythm with every step, and her Bossa Nova gored skirt moved with the sway of her hips like a lure before hungry fish.

Lily immediately spotted Terry and made a bee-line toward his table. Miss Havana heard Terry sigh when the beautiful girl headed his way. He whispered into his microphone, “She makes my mouth water and my feet want to run—she looks like I need another drink.”

Miss Havana tilted her head into her hand and earpiece as Lily threw the first punch. “I didn’t think they gave losers a second chance in this place.”

Terry smiled. “They must; you’re here.”

Miss Havana whispered into her mike, “Tell her you hoped she wouldn’t come tonight because her breasts are too small.”

From across the room, they could see Lily’s mouth fall agape. Miss Havana winked at Jackson, “I knew this would be fun.”

When Lily recovered, she pointed at Terry’s crotch…and laughed—a loud, mocking laugh that Miss Havana could hear clear across the room. Everyone looked first at Terry, and then they focused on his crotch. He flushed beet red, and Miss Havana whispered, “Tell her she seems particularly mean tonight, that the batteries in her vibrator must have gone flat.”

Lily’s head jerked upright like she’d been hit with an uppercut, and she fired back, “You should unzip your pants so your brains can get some oxygen.”

Miss Havana retorted, “Say her pelvic floor is a public chinrest.”

He did, and Lily jumped to her feet, placed her knuckles on the table and leaned into Terry’s glare. Their eyes radiated hatred for each other. Jackson whispered to Miss Havana. “It’s a good thing they aren’t armed.”

Lily hissed, “If they crossed you with a potato, you would be a dictator!”

Terry stood slowly as he retorted, “If you didn’t have a vagina, no one would speak to you!”

Lily growled, “You’re so boring your hand falls asleep while you masturbate!”

And Terry shot back, “Your diaphragm is a trampoline for dick heads!”

Miss Havana winked at Jackson. “See, they just needed a little encouragement.”

Lily and Terry snarled at each other and hissed epithets until a chime sounded, indicating they should change tables. Lily stormed off to meet her next victim. 
She slammed down on the chair across from Jake, who grinned wide and asked, “Bad day at the office?”

Lily yawned and flexed her shoulders, a move that lifted her breasts. “Just an encounter with a guy as useless as the ‘p’ in psycho. Sometimes I think the whole world hates me.”

From across the room, Miss Havana noticed Jake’s gaze linger on Lily’s breast. So did Jackson. “He’s just reading her nametag.”

Miss Havana waved her hand across her face in a dismissive motion. “Yeah, right.”

Before Jackson could defend his friend, Jake’s response crackled in their earpieces. “That can’t be true…the whole world can’t possibly know you.”

Lily’s innocent smile vanished and she pointed toward Terry. “Do you know that asshole over there?”

Jake shrugged. “Never seen him before, but shame on him if he upset you.” He reached over and patted her hand. “You’re here now and my only wish is that your most beautiful dreams come true tonight…and that you’ll find a place in them for me.”

Miss Havana leaned toward Jackson. “Oh, my God. He’s spreading the bullshit a little thick isn’t he?”

Jackson chuckled. “He’s been briefed. He’ll make her think he’s vulnerable, and then jerk the rug out from beneath her at the end. Turnabout is fair play.”

Even in the subdued light, they could see Lily’s exaggerated wink. She bit her lower lip as she looked Jake up and down and then drawled in a suggestive voice, “Ah, that’s sweet, but I don’t know if I can fit you in. I’m not free very often.”

A sly smile crossed Jake’s face. “Then I hope I can afford you; you’re so hot you could make the devil sweat.”

Lily leaned forward and rested her chin on her folded hands. “I came here to meet a nice man, but you might do.”

Jake’s eyes softened. His smile morphed to a yearning gaze. “That’s good news for me. I’m the kind of man who loves women I don’t deserve.”

Lily reached across the table and poked Jake’s arm. “And I’m sure you don’t deserve me.”

After several minutes of easy banter, with Lily leading Jake on and Jake doing everything he could to encourage her, he pulled a single red rose from a bag sitting beside him and handed it to Lily. “I want to show this rose how incredibly beautiful you are.”

Lily put one hand over her heart as she took in the scent of the rose…and then glared into Jake’s eyes. “Roses are red, violets are blue—I have five fingers and the middle one’s for you.”

Without missing a beat at the turn of events, Jake answered, “Roses are red, violets are blue—I screwed your mother, and the ripped condom made you.”

Lily’s voice dripped venom. “Roses are red, violets are blue—I thought I knew ugly until I met you.”

Jake glared back. “Roses are red, lemons are sour—open your legs and I’ll give you an hour.”

Lily jerked straight up and jammed a finger toward Terry. “You liar! You do know that asshole.”

Miss Havana whispered into her mike, “Tell her the ugly fatty tissue around her vagina is her.”

And he did. Lily’s nostrils flared. She snorted and then hissed, “Your penis enlargement pills must be working because you’re twice the dick you were yesterday!”

Miss Havana stirred the pot. “Tell her the most irritating things about her pussy are the other guys waiting in line.”

Lily snarled back, “The only way you could make your girlfriend scream during sex is to wipe your dick on her curtains!”

Lily and Jake soon had the attention of everyone in the room. No one coughed; no one uttered a word. Jake grinned as he looked around at the wide-eyed faces staring back at him. He raised his shoulders and palms. “I suppose you are wondering why I called you here tonight. I just wanted to demonstrate the meaning of a whole roll dump. I mean, no matter how much you wipe, it doesn’t seem to be enough. You blow through the whole roll and have to flush twenty-five times in the process. It all seems a huge waste.”

Blank faces and dead silence reigned; a few people held hands over their mouths. Lily looked puzzled. When Terry snickered, Jake passed both his arms across his torso toward Lily. “That’s what it’s like to meet this woman.”

Lily flushed bright red as the bar exploded in laughter. She spit on Jake and then stomped out the door, slamming it behind her. Miss Havana glanced at Jackson. “But Josh didn’t get a turn.”

As you can see, I have folded many jokes in to the conversation in attempt to enliven the encounter between the characters. My objective is to make people laugh and, from the reviews the Miss Havana books have received, I believe I have achieved that goal. If you enjoy laughing as much as I do, you can find all four Miss Havana novels at

Thank you for stopping by,

James L. Hatch