Monday Mayhem – Guilt Offering

The dog ate my homework!

Okay, maybe not really, but the result is the same: I don’t have a post prepared. What can I say? I’ve, uh, been…busy. I am prpared to offer appeasment, though. No, I don’t have a Central-Eurpopean country to hand over, but I do have one more novel releasing this year. How about a sneak peek from Inamorata? Will that get me off the hook?

Warning: Frank DeLuca was never PG-13 and probably never will be. The potty-mouth…

Anyhoo…Here’s your bribe. Let me know what you think, and have a happy Monday!

Inamorata – Coming June 2012 from Turquoise Morning Press

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way. Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.


He let go, allowing the soul-crushing pain to swamp him, plummeting to earth once more. He couldn’t crash and burn any worse than he had before. Twice before. Once when he was living, and once long after he’d been dead. Frank blinked the glare from his eyes and focused on the blank wall in front of him. The rosebud wallpaper was gone. The sheetrock had been stripped, sanded, and painted blue. A blue that was just a half-shade lighter than the blue that coated the walls in nineteen-eighty-seven.

He shook his head to clear it. Finally, his gaze tracked to the right where he spotted a bookshelf loaded with books, games, and stuffed animals. At the very top, a collection of trophies like the one he once kept in this very room was proudly displayed. Tiny gold men holding bats glistened in the soft amber glow of evening. He gaped at them perched atop their faux marble and fake brass pedestals.

He could see it so perfectly in his mind’s eye. A spotless trophy, gleaming bright gold in the light cast from the cheesy 70s directional sconce mounted on the wall. His mother running her fingertip over the engraved plate bearing his name.

“Francis DeLuca.”

The name rolled off his lips even though he hadn’t spoken it aloud in nearly two decades. Not since the night he introduced himself to the little girl who moved into his room. Not since he fell in love with Cam.

His eyes locked on the gilt batter glued to the top of the tallest trophy. He couldn’t look away. Obviously they didn’t belong to the little guy snuggled into the race-car shaped bed. But something told him they belonged here, just like him.

He stared hard at that trophy, seeing his mother’s wind-up, flinching just as he flinched when she hurled it across the room, smashing the bulb in the brass-colored wall sconce to bits, stealing the last wisps of breath from his lungs, and sentencing him to an eternity as the middleman.

On August nineteenth, nineteen-eighty-seven, he died. That was the day he broke his mother’s heart. That was the day his fate was sealed.

Shaking his head, Frank glared at the woman perched on the side of the bed. She was tall and slim, her hair so blonde it was almost white, her skin as pale as milk. Long, graceful fingers fussed with the edge of a Thomas the Tank Engine quilt, but the backs of her hands were veined and dotted with sunspots. It was her face that called to him. Stoic. Silent. Stone-faced.

“Fuck. Here we go again.”


Monday Mayhem – Randomosity

I have nothing prepared for today’s post, so I’m just going to throw a handful of randomosity at you and hope that something sticks. You ready? Here we go!

1) My husband and I just had a ten minute discussion about geometric theorems which concluded with heartfelt declarations of our utter relief that we don’t have to take Geometry class ever again.

2) I participated in a 5k race on Saturday. I managed to run about 2 1/2 of the 3.1 miles and finished in 37:45. I was happy. 🙂

3) As I type, I am wearing a rather fetching pair of University of Arkansas at Monticello Boll Weevil socks. Fear the weevil!

4) I ate birthday cake today. And chocolate ice cream. Je ne regrette rien.

5) Spring Chickens is now available…everywhere! Tell your friends and be sure to check out this fabulous GoodReads giveaway that starts tomorrow!

The winner of the $20 gift card from last week’s post was Carol. Thanks for your comments and continued support! My readers are the best!


Monday Mayhem – Picking Favorites

The gift card winner is: Carol! Thanks for your comments!

It’s release week for Spring Chickens and I am doing a happy dance. If you haven’t heard my crowing already, here’s the 4-1-1: Trade Paperback can be ordered NOW! Digital versions and all outlets other than the Wild Rose Press Bookstore will release Friday, April 27th!


An author once told me she gets ‘the jitters’ each time she has a new release hit the shelves, despite having over a dozen titles out there. She’s not the only one.

This never gets old. Each release is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Like a first date without the pointless rambling and the possibility of spilling food down the front of my shirt. (Which I will do anyway, but you won’t see it so it won’t count against me.)

I can’t help but wonder if you’ll like my writing. Will you fall for Lynne and Bram the way I did? Will there be a second read? What if I never hear from you again?

Oh, the hand wringing!

Just like dating, all I can do is put myself out there and hope we connect on some level.

Spring Chickens is a different sort of story for me. My hero and heroine are a little older, a bit wiser, and a whole lot warier than they were when they were young, but in a way it’s much more optimistic than anything I’ve written before. I know authors (and mothers) are not supposed to have favorites, but…Shh. Don’t tell the others.

Desert island time! If you had to pick only one book (no cheating and naming a series!) by your favorite author, which would be your favorite and why?

One lucky commenter will win a $20 gift card to the online bookstore of their choice! Winner will be drawn on Sunday, April 29th at 6PM US-Central time. Please tell your friends!


Monday Mayhem – Simple Pleasures

This weekend, I experienced a number of life’s simple pleasures. Even better, I took the time to appreciate each and every one of them. Here are the top five:
1) The crispy, seared edges of a perfectly grilled Steakburger.
2) The sweet smell of a baby’s soft, downy head.
3) Helpless laughter. The kind that spawns tears. (Thank you, Mom.)
4) Friendships as comfortable as the perfect pair of slippers.
5) Welcome home hugs and kisses from the hottie waiting at the airport.
How about you? What simple pleasures have you experienced lately?


Monday Mayhem – A Hail of Bullets

This week’s stream of consciousness babble:

  1. Ran two miles – a few times. Also attended my second yoga class on Saturday. I’ve decided I like having an hour of quiet movement here and there.
  2. A new great-nephew due to arrive any moment. Will be smooching the sugar off babies this weekend.
  3. My awesome friend and invaluable critique partner, Julie Doner, signed her first publishing contract with Turquoise Morning Press!
  4. Less than 3 weeks until Spring Chickens is released! Bookmark this page!
  5. I’m addicted to almonds. I buy a pound of natural then roast them in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. I only allow myself 15 at a time for fear I’ll end up eating the whole bag.
  6. Speaking of food—72 hours until I get my Steak ‘n Shake. Not that I’m counting…
  7. The girl who works at the Khiel’s counter (*cough* my daughter *cough*) told me Kim Kardashian uses the stuff she sold me. I’ve been using it for two weeks and I’m still not a rich reality TV star. My skin is really soft, though.
  8. Tim Bunny has finally succumbed to my charms. It’s only taken six years, but I can now hold and cuddle my recalcitrant rabbit at will.  
  9. I’ve been dreaming about Chicago a lot lately. I blame all the Twitter chatter about the Romantic Times Convention, the untamed plot bunnies in my head, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In that order.
  10. And last but certainly not least…I have cover art for Inamorata (June 2012)! Check this out:


You like? Here’s the blurb:

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way.

Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

Heh. Never gets old.

That’s all I have for this week. Now hit me with your best shot!


Monday Mayhem – Challenges

One year ago today, I smoked my last cigarette. At least, it was my last until I turn 70—after that, all bets are off. Once I hit 70, I’m going to live fast and hard, do whatever the hell I want, and go out in a blaze of glory.

That’s my plan.

I know this isn’t politically correct or even smart, but I really loved smoking. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss it. I do. I loved the ritual of it. I am a creature of habit, so breaking that particular habit was a big step for me.

Still, I’m not going to say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because I’m not entirely certain that’s true. I’ve had to face some obstacles I thought I’d never get over, past, or around. They were shorter in duration, maybe, but that didn’t make them any easier.

Vigilance is the key.

As of tomorrow, I will be 365 days smoke free, and a few things have changed. I don’t have to tell myself that my heart will go ‘splodey if I attempt to smoke while wearing a patch, like I did that first week. I don’t have to physically restrain myself from lunging at my old friends hanging out in the smoke shack at work and wrestling a smoke from my victim. My pants may fit a little tighter, but I can run a mile fairly easily (on most days). Couldn’t do that when I was sucking on the Marlboros. So yeah…tradeoffs.  

Quitting smoking was a challenge, but it was not so tough in the long run. Most days, I don’t even think about it. It’s nothing compared to the challenges many people face every day. It’s good to remember that.

Smoking was just something I did, and every once in a while I have to remind myself every once in a while that I don’t do that anymore.

At least, not for another 27 years.

Who’s coming to my 70th birthday party? I’m telling you, it’s going to be legendary…


Monday Mayhem: Springing Eternal

Today is the day the Romance Writers of America announce the RITA/Golden Heart contest finalists. For those of you who don’t know, the RITAs are for published authors, and Golden Heart entries are unpublished. There are many prestigious and esteemed awards in the romance community, but these two would be the equivalent of the Oscar/Emmy/Tony awards.

Last fall, the staff at Turquoise Morning Press voted to put two of their 2011 titles up for consideration for RITA awards and they chose Grace Greene’s Beach Rental (Best Inspirational Romance & Best First Book categories) and my Contentment (Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category) as TMP’s official submissions.

I couldn’t believe they picked one of my books from all of the titles they published in 2011. I might have had a total Sally Field moment. Maybe. There’s no video, so there’s no proof. As you can imagine, RITA and GH submissions are huge. The chances of being chosen as a finalist are super-slim – particularly for a small press author. But even as I filled out the entry form, I will admit that I was picturing myself as that camel passing through the eye of a needle. Without the hump. And the overbite. And the spitting thing…

I’m realistic enough to know my phone will probably not ring this morning. I’m not just saying that to be self-deprecating. Those of me who know me well know I have a ginormous ego. Huge. At times, monstrous. But I will say it’s also pretty well grounded in reality.

I love my baby, but I’m not so blind that I can’t see its flaws. But still…Maybe….

And there it goes again – springing eternal and all that jazz. I can’t help myself. I came equipped with this tiny little flame, flickering and sputtering deep inside of me. Standard equipment on this model, I guess. It won’t ever be extinguished, not even after the name of the last of the 2012 RITA finalists is posted on the RWA website.

Being an author is all about having hope.

We hope the story idea rattling around in our head is as good as we think it might be.

We hope we’ve chosen the right words to paint a picture, tell the tale, and spin a web so sticky you’ll never want to put the book down.

We hope it touches someone somehow.

Hope is the key ingredient that makes each and every romance (real or fictional) a possibility. It spurs us to press ‘send’ on that agent or editor pitch. Hope keeps us clicking the refresh button multiple times a day. Each time I open a new document, I’m filled with hope, expectation, and the tiny trickle of trepidation that accompanies any risk worth taking.

And if that phone call never comes, that’s okay. There’s always next year, right?

Spoken like a true Cubs fan.

Happy Monday, my friends. What are your hopes for the day, week, month, or year?

ETA: Just wanted to thank you all for your support. Contentment wasn’t chosen as a finalist, but I will have three (!) 2012 releases to choose from when it comes time to submit again. Thanks so much. You all are the best!


Monday Mayhem – It’s me again, Margaret

I’m back! Did you miss me last week? Aren’t The Karens a hoot? Love those girls!

So… Hi! I didn’t really have a topic picked out for today, so I thought I’d play catch up with some bullet points.

1)         Just a little over one month until Spring Chickens is released! I love Lynne. I love Bram. I really love Bram. Ahem. Sorry… Anyway, I can’t wait for you to meet him, uh, them. Need a refresher? Here’s the blurb:

You don’t have to be a spring chicken to fall in love.

The residents of Heartsfield, Arkansas think Lynne Prescott has it all. The wealthy suburban divorcee captures everyone’s attention when she blows into town to dispose of the family farm. But her nosy new neighbors don’t know she ran away from home.

Bram Hatchett’s interest in buying the land adjoining his farm is yesterday’s news, but the handsome widower’s inability to contain his attraction to the land’s beautiful owner quickly becomes fodder for the local gossip mill.

A rickety old porch and a disturbing decrease in the poultry population bring them together—but with wagging tongues and grown children against them, Lynne’s inclination toward flight comes smack against Bram’s aversion to fight. Can they whittle away the secrets of the past in order to scratch out a future together?

Mark your calendars for the week of April 23rd!

2)         Been getting some really awesome reviews on Commitment! Yay! If you do not review the books you read on a site like Amazon, GoodReads, or Barnes & Noble, I’m asking that you please consider doing so. Not just my books, but any book. Your thoughts and opinions matter a great deal to authors and readers alike. More and more, I’m seeing more and more places that require a minimum number of public reviews before an author can even pay to advertise on the site. You don’t have to write an essay. Just simply say what you liked or didn’t like about the book. That’s right; you can say you didn’t like it. Honest reviews are always appreciated. Please just remember to be gentle. Authors are like small woodland creatures…

3)         Hey, are you following my photo a day challenge on my Facebook page? It’s been a lot of fun. Stop by, click the ‘like’ button, and check them out! 

4)        Been writing lately, but it’s been more for my close, personal friend, Maggie Wells than for myself. Seems she got a little ambitious with the series planning. Silly Maggie.

4)         Silly Margaret: I decided it was time to shake off the cobwebs and start working out a little harder, so I signed up for a 5K that’s being held at the end of April.  I ran almost two miles yesterday. It was the first time we’ve run the riverfront since last fall. I’d forgotten how different road running can be from the treadmill. I’m hoping I can build enough endurance in the next six weeks to run the whole course.

5)         For anyone in the greater Cincinnati area: I’ll be signing books at the 8th Annual Reader and Author Get Together June 1-2! Details here!

I have a big anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks, but I’ll save that for another post. Yes, I know. I’m such a tease…

So, what about you? What’s fun and exciting in your world? Read anything good lately? Seen any good movies? I require constant entertainment, so please share!


Monday Mayhem – Special Guest Stars!

Today I have a special surprise – I’m turning my blog over to two of my favorite chickas – The Karens!

Not long ago, I met Karen Stivali and Karen Booth on Twitter. In the blink of an eye, we were best friends – braiding hair…finishing sentences…dishing about our hot dates…raiding each other’s closets…. Oh, and they also write fiction.

Fabulously sexy fiction.

Today they are visiting Writings and Ramblings to celebrate the release of their co-authored story, Long Distance Lovers! Woooot! Without further ado, here are The Karens nattering on about one of our favorite subjects – British boys!

*Cranks the Duran Duran and pretends she didn’t just lick a picture of Colin Firth*

Brits, Brits, and more Brits

When did your fascination with British men start? Who was your first Brit crush?

Karen B: I started young—seven or eight years old, playing Beatles 45s for hours at a time on the record player in my dad’s den. It was the 70s. We called a man’s home office a den. My first Brit crush was also my first rock star crush—dreamy, fresh-faced and clever Paul McCartney. In middle school, I had a crush on a boy in a Beatles cover band. I remember thinking that he would have been the perfect guy if he were British. Not a lot of British boys in Minnesota. Dammit.

Karen S: My earliest fascination with British men came from listening to The Beatles. I can remember being no more than five years old, lying on the area rug in my dad’s den while he worked. I’d be alternating between drawing pictures and studying the covers from his collection of Beatles albums. Paul and George were my favorites, especially in the photos from their early mop top days (the scraggly bearded look didn’t do it for me then and still doesn’t all these decades later). I’m guessing it was the combo of British accent and floppy hair that later led to my first celebrity crush, on Davy Jones from The Monkees. I must have been ten by then, and even though the show was in reruns and Davy was more than old enough to be my father, I thought he was the cutest, funniest guy ever. Once again, the accent had worked its magic. Around the same time we moved to England for a while and lived there for several months over the span of a few years. I fell in love with Oxford, the beautiful old buildings, the fluffy down beds, the dessert trolley at tea time. Everything enchanted me, and the local men with their charming voices and witty jokes were no exception. I was hooked.

Karen B: Why am I not surprised we were both obsessed with The Beatles when we were little? Why am I not surprised we both decided to use the term “den”? I’d say we were separated at birth if we didn’t have completely dissimilar appearances.

Why write Brit characters?

Karen B: Write what you love? That’s one excuse. There’s a safe exoticism to the Brits. They’re just different enough. No language barrier, but you have the accent, the irresistible British sense of humor, and those funny things they say like bugger and brilliant. I’m such a goof, a good-looking British guy could tell me I was sixes and sevens and I would still swoon.

Karen S: I write both British and American male leads. The ones who are British are just, for lack of a better word, different. The sense of humor is different. The charm is different. There are things American men can do that seem completely awkward or unnatural coming from a Brit, and vice versa. Also, when I write I “hear” my characters talking in my head. It’s very easy for me to hear my Brit characters because I’m so familiar with the accent. I’d have a very difficult time writing a character with an accent I had less familiarity with, so I stick with what I know. I have a close Aussie friend who keeps insisting I need to write a good Aussie leading man. We’ll see…

What about British snacks? There’s mention of them in the book.

Karen B: In Long-Distance Lovers, Tim has a bit of a sweet tooth and he’s disappointed when he realizes he can’t procure the candy he likes from home. Jenna introduces him to pretzel M&Ms, which he loves, and it’s one of the things they bond over. I get all of my best British treats from Karen S. She sends them to me.

Karen S: One of my favorite things about traveling is having the chance to sample local foods—the produce, the traditional regional specialties, and of course, the candy. There’s always an array of new snack foods to choose from and I love to try them all. I usually return home from trips with a stash of tasty snacks I’ve discovered on my journey, and I miss my favorites when my supply inevitably runs out. Nowadays, with the Internet, it’s fairly easy to order hard to find snacks, but I don’t. Instead I prefer to troll the import aisle at supermarkets or specialty shops. I love the excitement of stumbling upon a favorite treat I can’t normally get locally. And I often buy an extra, to ship to Karen Booth.

Food is also closely linked to memories for me, which is why Tim, the charming British lead in Long-Distance Lovers, needs to experience some quintessential New York treats. One of the things I miss the most from when I lived in New York City is the cannolis. Not just any cannolis, either, the ones from Veniero’s Bakery. Those can’t be found or duplicated anywhere else, so I had to let him enjoy them. And trust me, he really enjoys them.

Long-Distance Lovers

British musician Tim Wentworth trades his London flat for an apartment in NYC so he can record with a promising American band, but he arrives in Manhattan to learn the gig has been canceled. With no job and a two-month stay in the States, he wonders if the trip has been a waste of time, until he meets charming and talented jewelry designer Jenna Bradford.

Unlike the groupies who throw themselves at Tim after shows, Jenna couldn’t be less impressed by his music credentials. Bad experiences have led her to have a strict “no-musicians” policy. But when Tim rescues Jenna from an obnoxious drunk, she bends her rules and they embark on a sensuous courtship filled with steamy, passionate nights and intense, unexpected emotions. While they try to find a way to prolong their time together, a family tragedy forces Tim to return to England. Jenna and Tim must each decide how far they’re willing to go to see if their whirlwind romance can lead to a lifetime of love.


Karen Booth and Karen Stivali are critique partners and co-authors of the new Ellora’s Cave erotic romance, Long-Distance Lovers, out now. Further info at

Buy now at Ellora’s Cave or Amazon!