Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm reposting this because it's such a pretty New Years Eve picture!
Happy New Year everyone, wishing you all the best in 2010!

If you haven't read my Samhellion freebie, today's a good day to do it because it's New Year's Eve...Gavin and Melina are having a sexy celebration!

Love Me Tonight is a short story about Gavin and Melina, who you may recognize from Love Me and Love Me More. They're in for another sexy New Year's Eve adventure - but this one may surprise you!

Go check it out!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I finished a novel by a new-to-me-author who happens to also be represented by my agent Laura Bradford and is also a fellow Samhain and Ellora's Cave author - Beth Kery. I read Sweet Restraint and I really liked it! What a great story! I loved all the emotion and what kept those two lovers apart all those years.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Love Me Tonight

My Samhellion freebie is up already!
Everyone loves a free story, right?

Love Me Tonight is a short story about Gavin and Melina, who you may recognize from Love Me and Love Me More. They're in for another sexy New Year's Eve adventure - but this one may surprise you!

Go check it out!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 25

Monday morning Jack met with a nurse at the oncology clinic.
“I’m Marlo Dixon,” she said, shaking his hand. She motioned to a chair and gave him a warm smile. “Please call me Marlo.” What type of person did it take to be a pediatric oncology nurse? He could only admire the way she made him comfortable, asked if he’d brought any family with him. He regretted not bringing Ally, but it was probably best not to get her too involved with all this stuff.
“Human leukocyte antigen or HLA testing is used to match patients and donors for bone marrow transplants,” Marlo told him as they sat in a surprisingly un-clinical office with cheerful yellow walls and brightly colored furniture. “HLA antigens are proteins found on most cells in our bodies. Your immune system uses these proteins to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. A close match between your HLA antigens and the recipient’s reduces the risk the recipient’s immune cells will attack donor cells or that your immune cells will attack the recipient’s body after the transplant. We take a blood sample to test for your HLA tissue traits.”
Jack nodded, trying to remember to breathe.
“Don’t worry about remembering all this,” she said with a smile. “I have pamphlets and printed materials you can take with you when you leave. You can spend as much time as you like going over them before you make your decision.” She nodded to a stack of paperwork on her desk. “It’s very important to the success of the transplant to have a well-matched donor. The best chance of finding a match is with a brother or sister. Since we inherit half of our HLA antigens from our mother and half from our father, each brother and sister who has the same parents has a twenty-five per cent chance of matching a recipient.”
“Wow. Even that sounds low. And Sarah doesn’t have any brothers or sisters.”
She nodded. “I know. There is less chance that other family members will match. But we will certainly test parents to make sure we don’t miss out on a viable donor. There are a number of other factors that lead to improved transplant success rates.” She outlined some of the factors.
“So I’m good on all those.” Jack gave her a small grin. “I’m big, I’m young, I’m male, I’m healthy.”
Marlo smiled back at him. “Yes to all those. So, I’ll explain how the bone marrow donation process works. It’s a surgical procedure performed in a hospital. The donor receives an anesthetic and doctors use special needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the pelvic bones. Some donors receive a transfusion of their own blood. A donor’s marrow is completely replaced within four to six weeks. Usually the donor goes home the same day. Donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days, maybe longer. Some donors feel tired or have some difficulty walking, but are back to their usual routine in a few days, although some may take two to three weeks before they feel completely recovered.”
“Is it a general anesthesia or local?”
“Could be either,” she answered openly. “The anesthesiologist decides which the best option is. The two types of regional anesthesia used most often are spinal and epidural. They prevent the donor from having any feeling below the waist and the donor is awake through the procedure.”
Jack noticed how she always referred to the donor and recipient as a nameless people rather than him and Sarah. He supposed she was trying to make it as neutral as possible so as not to influence his decision.
“After receiving anesthesia, the donor is placed on his stomach. The doctor makes an incision through the skin on the lower back and the needles are inserted through the incision into the pelvic bones. The doctor then attaches a syringe to the hollow needle and draws out the marrow and repeats this aspiration process until the appropriate amount of marrow is collected. About a quart of marrow is collected, depending on the size of the donor and recipient. After the marrow is collected, a dressing is placed over the incision. Most incisions are small enough that there’s no need for stitches. The donor then goes to a recovery area and is monitored until the anesthetic wears off. When the donor is fully awake, he or she is either brought to a hospital room for further observation or goes home. As with all same-day surgical procedures, when a donor goes home the same day, someone other than the donor must drive.”
Jack nodded, immediately thinking of Ally.
“We follow up with you after a few days to see how you’re doing, and then we call once a week until you feel you’ve fully recovered.”
“I’ve been living and working in Iraq. I just came home this. How long do you think it would be before I could go back there?”
“Are you in the service?” she inquired.
He shook his head. “Photojournalist.”
“Ah. Well, I would think you should probably stay here for three to four weeks after.”
Jack nodded. Three to four weeks. Oh, man. He hadn’t really thought ahead that far. But in the big picture of things, a few weeks out of his life wasn’t that big a deal.
“Do you have any other questions?” she asked gently.
“Are there any risks involved?” he asked. “Just so I know.”
“Of course. As with any surgical procedure, there is some risk involved. Serious complications are rare but could include anesthesia reactions, infection, transfusion reactions, or injuries at the needle insertion sites. We take every precaution to ensure the safety and well-being of the donor. You must have a thorough physical examination before you donate.”
Jack nodded, recalling Brittany telling him that.
“What about Sarah?” he asked slowly. “Are there risks for her?”
“I can’t speak about Sarah specifically,” Marlo said. “I know you are her father, but without permission from her mother I can’t give out that information. But I can tell you generally a bit about the transplant experience from the recipient’s perspective. There are some risks, risk of infection, of bleeding, of interstitial pneumonia, and of course graft-versus-host disease. Acute GVHD can occur anywhere from ten to seventy days after a transplant, though the average time is around twenty-five days. About one-third to one-half of allogeneic transplant recipients - allogeneic transplants are where the donor is a family member - develop acute GVHD. It’s less common in younger patients and in those with better HLA matches between donor and recipient. Most cases are mild, and those who develop it usually have no long-term effects, although in some cases it can be serious or even life threatening. We try to prevent acute GVHD by giving drugs to lessen the immune response, but although these help prevent serious GVHD, mild GVHD will almost inevitably occur.”
“Oh,” Jack said. “That doesn’t sound good. You know, I’m not liking these odds.”
Marlo nodded sympathetically. “I know. But think of it this way - without a transplant, Sarah’s odds of survival may be even less.”
He nodded sombrely. “Okay,” he said decisively. “I’m ready. Let’s do it.”
“You don’t need to make a decision immediately,” she cautioned him. “You can go home and discuss it with your family. You may want to talk to Brittany more about it.”
He shook his head firmly. “No. That’s not necessary. Really, I knew before I came here what the decision would be. How could I not do this?”
She smiled. “All right then. In Sarah’s case, timing is a bit urgent. She’s almost at the point in her treatment where we would want to do the transplant. So we can get you in for a complete physical this afternoon. We’ll take some blood samples for testing and we’ll know this week if you’re a suitable donor.”
When Jack got back to Carter’s place, his mind whirled with all the technical information he’d heard, and he threw himself down on the couch to go through the printed materials they’d given him. Then he realized he should call Brittany and let her know his decision.
He heard the tears choking her voice when he told her he was willing to go ahead with it, but cautioned her that it would be a few days before they knew the results of the tests to know if he was a good donor.
“You will be, I know it,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “Thank you, Jack. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
He rubbed his face. “What about Sarah?” he asked. “Now do we tell her I’m her father?”
“Not yet. I’m not going to get her hopes up about the testing, Jack. It’s possible you aren’t a good match either, although you’re our best hope. But she’s sick. She has a lot of stuff going on. This is hard for an adult to deal with, never mind a nine-year-old kid.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“If the transplant goes ahead, then I think that would be a good time to tell her. I don’t even want to tell her this is happening, because it will get her hopes up and things don’t always work out. We’ve learned that the hard way.” She paused. “So, if it’s a go, we’ll explain things to her then.”
“Yeah. I can see that would be the best way. Okay.” He paused. “I’ll come by tonight. Sarah and I are going to finish painting the tree house.”
“Okay.” Brittany’s voice sounded strangled. “See you later.”
He hung up, tossed his cell phone on the coffee table and leaned his head back against the sofa. Jesus. Everything was so complicated.
He finished reading the information he’d been given, not that anything there was going to change his mind. A sore back for a few days was nothing compared to saving Sarah’s life.
The urge to talk to Ally about it all was so overwhelming he picked up his cell phone to call her. He flipped it open, stared at it, then slowly closed it.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 26

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy holidays everyone!

I want to wish everyone the most joyous of holidays full of peace and laughter, friendship and love!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I've been back on a Lorelei James reading kick! I finished All Jacked Up. I really liked this story, and the characters really got inside my head. Reading this book and Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks last week reminds me how important good characters are. Then I read Cowgirl Up And Ride also by Lorelei James, and now I'm reading Shoulda Been a Cowboy. I only wish I'd read these stories in the order they were written because now I'm reading about characters (like Keeley, whose story is in All Jacked Up ) who haven't had their own romance yet. I don't think you really have to read them in order, and I've sure been jumping all over the place, but they are all connected.
Non fiction: Making Magick by Edain McCoy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A great review for Love Me More!

This is my first ever 5 review!!
Romance Junkies gave Love Me More 5 Blue Ribbons:

"With tons of red-hot romance and a surprising understanding of relationships between men and women, LOVE ME MORE is an excellent sequel to LOVE ME. I think every female in the world has probably shared Mel’s feelings at some point...Excellent job!"


Friday, December 18, 2009

Release day!

I'm blogging about my Ellora's Cave Release RIGGER over at the Nine Naughty Novelists today - come find out what inspired this story!

Extreme Close Up Chapter 24

Jack collapsed onto Ally’s sofa as soon as they were in the door. He stared into space.
Ally watched him, concern and love for him swelling and aching in her chest. If only she could make this all right for him. She’d do anything to ease this pain for him. This was unbelievable.
She sank down on the couch beside him and took his hand. For a long moment they sat there in silence. The tension between them was replaced by the shock of Sarah’s illness, the horror that she might die, and anger that something so cruel could happen to a beautiful child.
“Are you okay?” she finally whispered, not looking at him.
“No,” he groaned. “Ally.” He turned to her and pulled her into his arms, which tightened around her like clamps. She slid her arms around his neck and let him hold her, nestling in against him, both of them taking comfort from the close connection.
“I can’t believe it,” he said, his low voice muffled by her hair. “I just find out about her, just get to meet her...and I find out she’s dying.”
“She might not be.” She stroked her hands over his back. “If you’re a good match, and you’re willing to donate, maybe you can save her.”
His arms tightened and she felt his uneven breathing, the heavy thud of his heart against her. “Yeah. Maybe.”
They stayed like that for a long time, and she knew Jack was fighting to control his emotions, his breath shuddering in and out of him.
“Would you do it?” she finally asked him, drawing back a little. “Donate your bone marrow?”
“Of course!” He looked down at her with faintly red eyes, his face drawn. “Man, if I can do something so little as donating bone marrow to save a life, why wouldn’t I? So many families I saw ripped apart, innocent children killed. Those parents - Mohim - had no choice about keeping their kids alive.” He shook his head, his eyes sad.
“You can do something about this,” she whispered, laying her palm on his cheek, rough with a day’s growth of golden beard. “And I’m here for you, Jack.”
“I know.” He hauled her against him again, pressed his face to her hair. “I know you are, Ally. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re all that’s getting me through this.”
“No, I’m not. You’re strong, Jack. You’ve always been strong. You know what you need to do and you do it.”
“I know, but it doesn’t make it easier. I didn’t plan to stay here very long. I have a job I have to get back to. My whole life is bombed–out rubble.” He shook his head. “Except you.”
She knew he wanted her, cared about her. She felt the same. She also knew if they slept together again Jack was going to feel horrible. But she couldn’t stop it. They needed each other, on a level that went far beyond rational thoughts about why they shouldn’t do it. And Ally didn’t care. She didn’t care if Carter was pissed off at them. She and Carter had been done a long time ago. She should care about Carter and Jack, she supposed, but she couldn’t help feeling that Carter didn’t deserve Jack’s unswerving loyalty.
She stood up and took Jack’s hand in hers. He looked at her. Then he stood up, too. And followed her up the stairs to her bedroom.

* * *

“I’m going to go stay with Carter.”
Ally’s head snapped up. They sat in her kitchen drinking coffee the next morning.
“Why?” Her forehead creased.
“I can’t stay here with you, Ally.” He swallowed hard. “This is going to keep happening. And it can’t.” He tensed, waiting for her response.
She set her cup down on the counter, looked down at it.
“I know,” she whispered.
Jack blinked, then stared.
“I’m being when you have so much stuff going on. I swore to myself I would let you deal with Sarah and Brittany. You don’t need me bugging you about us and about Carter on top of that.”
“Oh.” Jesus, that wasn’t the problem. Ally was the one sane thing in his life, his angel. He struggled with how to tell her that.
“You still feel guilty, don’t you?” she asked.
“Hell, yeah. Although I have to admit, I totally forgot about Carter for a while there.” He let out a long breath. “I just couldn’t help myself. Couldn’t resist you. I’m weak, Ally.”
She gave a little laugh. “Weak my ass. You’re the strongest person I know.”
“Not when it comes to you, apparently.” He reached for her hand, then drew back. “I’m sorry.” He wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. For hurting her? For being a stupid idiot who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants? “I know we shouldn’t have done it, but damned if I could help myself.”
“I know.” She touched his face. “I feel the same. I told myself I would leave you alone, that I would just be supportive and helpful until you get through all this. Then you touch me and I’m gone. I’m sorry, too, Jack.”
“Don’t apologize,” he whispered in agony. “You don’t need to feel guilty, too.”
“But I do feel guilty. Your life is crazy right now. You don’t need this on top of everything else.”
Hell, she was right. And could he get through it without her? Ally may think he was strong, but the truth was, without her he felt weak and helpless.
Ally sat there, quiet, then asked, her voice touchingly tentative, “Will you let me know when you get the test results? And how things go with Sarah?”
Her words made Jack’s chest tighten. “Of course.” Did she think he was going to leave and never see her again?
“And what about after your surgery?” she asked. “You need someone to drive you home and you shouldn’t be alone. You can come back here, then, if you want.”
“I thought Carter might look after me,” he joked.
“Yeah, right. ‘Cause Carter is so nurturing.” Her lip curled.
“Hey. He stood by me once before, when I went through a tough time. The toughest. He was a good buddy, and I’m sure he will be this time, too.”
Ally stayed silent and he shifted, turned her face with a hand on her chin so he could see her eyes.
“You know, Carter changed the last few years,” she said slowly, meeting his gaze. “When he started working for Chipman, Barratt he got so involved in his career. There were things about him I didn’t like. Sometime he was working on cases that I...had problems with. Defending guys that were guilty, getting them off on technicalities. I felt like he was becoming...unethical.” She cleared her throat. “The first time he cheated on me I tried to tell myself it was a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. But the second time - no.” She hesitated. “I shouldn’t be saying this. He’s your friend.”
Jack listened, touched her hair.
“I just want you to know prepared that maybe he’s not the guy you think he is.”
Jack knew Carter wasn’t perfect, but he still felt he owed him a lot. He owed him his loyalty.
“But,” Ally continued, her voice determinedly upbeat. “Sarah is the most important thing right now. I understand that.”
“Thank you, Ally.” He held her to him for a long moment then kissed her hair.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 25

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coming tomorrow: RIGGER

Take a peak at the trailer for a little preview of this book, out tomorrow with Ellora's cave...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I finished Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks. Nathan is so alpha, yet he's met his match in Julie! A nice simple but hot story.

I'm currently reading All Jacked Up by Lorelei James. I do love her stories. I love these two strong characters and the sparks flyign between them.

In my non fiction reading, I'm working on Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England by Kristine Hughes. No, I don't think I'm going to write a historical romance, but I have this idea...Also reading Lords of Battle by Stephen Allen. Also related to my idea...which still needs a lot of work. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My first Bradford Bunch post

Come on by the Bradford Bunch blog where I'm telling a Christmas story!

Extreme Close Up Chapter 23

“Dinner’s ready.” Brittany’s voice came from behind them. Ally turned and Jack wanted to kick the tree house as he walked past it and into the house. They took turns at the sink washing up and Jack pulled his T-shirt back on, but not before he’d noticed Ally eyeing him again. She seemed to like what she saw. Oh, man this was so bad.
They sat around Brittany’s small kitchen table eating hamburgers and home-made French fries, and Jack got that beer he’d been wanting. He talked to Sarah about her daycare and the trip they’d taken to the local pool that day, and even though it was surreal if he thought too much about where he was and who he was with, it was nice. Almost a family kind of thing, even with Ally there.
The truth was, Ally was the one who felt most like family. The one he was most comfortable with, the one he wanted to be with more than anyone else. He glanced at her occasionally. She didn’t say much through the meal, but he could tell she was listening intently. She asked Sarah the occasional question, too, laughed and smiled.
The strangest thought shot into his mind, a wish that Ally was Sarah’s mother and the three of them were truly a family. Not that he didn’t like Brittany. They could still be friends, despite their teenage relationship. The reality was - Brittany was Sarah’s mother. She always would be and he’d always have that link to her. But it was Ally he wanted to be the mother of his children.
Pain sliced through him and he set down his beer. This was what his life was going to be. Linked to a woman he didn’t want, by a child to whom he owed it to be the best father he could from the other side of the world, all while wanting a woman he could never have. Jesus, what a fucking dismal future he had to look forward to.
He couldn’t eat any more, pushed the plate away from him.
“Can I have your fries?” Sarah asked him.
“You’re having a hungry day, aren’t you sweetie?” Brittany asked with a little laugh.
“Sure.” He let his daughter take his plate. He swallowed past the golf ball that had materialized in his throat and smiled at her.
When they’d helped Brittany clean up and do the dishes, they all went back outside.
“How much more are you going to do tonight?” Ally asked him.
“I dunno.” The longer he worked here, the less time he had to spend with Ally alone at her place, or deal with packing up his stuff and telling her he was leaving.
He stared at the structure still in pieces. It was going to fill Brittany’s entire tiny yard. Shit. What had he done? Sarah didn’t even want it. “I guess I’ll work a bit longer.”
“Want some help?”
He looked at Ally. “You can hammer nails?”
She gave him a crooked smile. “Probably not. But if there’s anything I can do…”
“Hey, watch this!” Sarah ran over to her swing set and grabbed the two rings again.
They turned back to watch Sarah’s gymnastics. As she struggled to hold herself upside down on her skinny arms, Jack grinned. Then Sarah’s hat fell off, to the ground. And her pony tail went with it.
He stared at the hat on the ground with hair attached to it, his smile God! How had her hair fallen off? Then he lifted his gaze to Sarah as she righted herself and quickly grabbed for the cap. She was completely bald.

* * *

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jack growled.
They sat in Brittany’s living room. Sarah had gone to her bedroom after a tearful scene when she’d apologized to her mother for letting her hat with the fake ponytail fall off. Apparently Brittany had told her not to let Jack and Ally see her without her hat. Upset but not angry, Brittany had comforted Sarah, her eyes pleading with Jack for him to wait for an explanation.
“What’s wrong with her?” He rubbed the ache in his chest. Ally sat beside him, once again took hold of his hand, and he clutched it in both his as if it were life support.
“She has leukemia,” Brittany told them. “Acute lymphocytic leukemia.”
“Oh, dear God,” Ally murmured beside him.
“She started having a lot of fevers and then infection. She got bruises all the time and I had no idea how.” Brittany pressed a hand to her stomach. “She felt weak and tired and finally her doctor did some tests that showed she had leukemia.”
“When was this?”
“A couple of years ago. Then she had to have more tests, to see what kind of treatment she needed. She’s had a ton of drugs and chemotherapy, to try to heal the bone marrow. She lost her hair, was throwing up all the time.”
“That’s why she missed so much school,” Jack murmured.
“Yes. And now, she...she needs a bone marrow transplant.” She lifted her eyes and met his and his stomach dropped to his heels.
“Is she dying, Britt?” The words came out almost a whisper.
She nodded, shiny-eyed. “She could die if she doesn’t get the transplant.”
“That’s why you called me,” he said slowly, realization crawling over him. “You want me to donate.”
“I’m n-not a good match. I was hoping that you would b-be.”
Jack closed his eyes as the room spun around him momentarily.
“I’m really sorry to drop this on you out of the blue like this, but she’s my daughter, my b-baby. I’ll do whatever it takes to get her better, and I really hope you feel the same.”
Jack was taking it all in, absorbing it. The burger and fries he’d eaten earlier threatened to come back up. He glanced over at Ally and her glossy eyes shone with concern.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I wanted you to get to know her. I thought if I asked you to donate marrow to a total stranger, you’d probably say no. But if you got to know your daughter, got to love her...” She paused, swallowed hard. “I thought you’d do it.”
Jack took a breath. “What all is involved?” he asked. “For me.” God, that sounded selfish. “I mean...”
Brittany nodded. “I know. You have a right to have a lot of questions. I’ll tell you as much as I know, but it would be better if you met with the specialist. He can tell you more and explain it all better than I can.”
Jack nodded.
“Apparently you have to meet with the transplant team so they can give you information. Then they’ll do some blood tests. That will tell them if you’re a good match or not.” She paused. “I’m really hoping, because there are a lot of factors, and the fact that you’re a man, you’re big, and you’re young, are all good things.”
Jack nodded again.
“If you’re a match, you go into the hospital to donate. They give you an anesthetic and then they take some marrow out of your hip bones. You go home the same day and apparently you might have some back pain for a few days. But that’s really all there is to it.”
“It is a surgical procedure, though,” Jack said. “There are risks.”
Brittany slowly moved her head up and down. “Yes. There are. I don’t mean to minimize it, but I think the risks are pretty small, if you’re healthy. You’d have to have a complete physical before they do it, too, to make sure you are healthy and there aren’t any risks.”
She sat there, looking at him, waiting. Ally squeezed Jack’s hand and her support was all that gave him strength to go on.
“Will you come and talk to the specialist, at least?” Brittany asked quietly. “I know it’s a lot to ask.”
“Of course I will.” Was there any other answer? What was he supposed to do? Let his daughter die? Even though he’d had no idea she existed until a week ago, there was no way he could turn his back on her. He glanced at Ally and she smiled at him and he knew she was happy he’d agreed. Of course he had to do the right thing. Hopefully she hadn’t had any doubts about that.
“I’ll call the doctor in the morning and make an appointment,” Brittany told them. “Then I’ll let you know when.”

Extreme Close Up Chapter 24

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Release date!

RIGGER will be released with Ellora's Cave on Friday December 18!

Here's the blurb:

Photographer Alek Kroft likes to tie up women. As a rigger, he’s into the aesthetics of bondage – the pattern of rope against skin, the marks left in tender flesh – but he has to admit he also likes the high of being in control and yeah, it turns him on. When Alek needs a model to complete the photographs for his book on rope bondage, he asks his good friend Shaela Hudson.

Shaela disapproves of Alek’s kinky sexual habits, but he’s a friend and she agrees to help. She’s not prepared for how being bound and helpless releases her from her everyday problems – her slave driver boss, her unsatisfying career and her derogatory father. She’s also helplessly aroused. So is Alek. He sees how Shaela loves being bound, even though she doesn’t want to admit it, and proposes they explore it together. Intrigued but nervous, Shaela agrees. Neither of them expects to learn the things they do about each other – and about themselves. And neither of them expects to fall in love...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Naughty Nine Recipe!

Here's my Christmas "recipe" - but don't eat it!!! Seriously, these ornaments look like cookies and smell divine but they're not edible. My kids and I enjoyed making these when they were little.

Cinnamon Christmas Tree Ornaments
1/2 cup unsweetened store-bought applesauce
1/2 cup ground cinnamon

In a sturdy plastic bag (like a Zip Loc), combine applesauce and cinnamon. Seal bag and knead until consistency of cookie dough. If too crumbly, knead in more applesauce, 1 tsp at a time. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with Christmas cookie cutters. Using a straw, make a hole in the top to thread a ribbon through.

Place on paper-towel lined baking sheet and let dry for 24-48 hours, turning several times, until hard and dry. Decorate as desired - with paints, glitter and ribbons. Gingerbread men and Christmas trees are really pretty and fun to decorate.

Hang on tree!

Recipe from The Canadian Living Christmas Book

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I finished In the Dark by PG Forte (just out yesterday at Samhain but I got a sneak peek!) I could not put this book down. I loved the vampires PG has created - a tortured hero who makes my toes curl, a sweet and innocent heroine who brought tears to my eyes several times in the story, moments of pure heart ache, and laughter and oh yeah, it's hot too! I had to keep reading to learn everyone's story and my only disappointment was that it ended! But good news, this is Book One of a series so we get to read more about these sexy vampires - I just hope it's soon!

And I started Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks. This story features Julie and Nathan, who we met in Sweet Surrender and Sweet Persuasion. Nathan is so funny, such a...guy! I'm enjoying this book!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another review for Irish Sex Fairy

Fallen Angel Reviews gave Irish Sex Fairy 4 Angels!!

“Kelly Jamieson has created a truly likable heroine in Keara, and a hero worthy of her in Shane. Skillfully developed, their relationship simmers before exploding into wild, passionate encounters that threaten to set the screen on fire… A sexy, suspenseful book, Irish Sex Fairy offers a gem of a story sure to please fans of contemporary erotic romance.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dear Chapters/Indigo

Dear Chapters/Indigo:

Thank you so much for the Christmas gift! It arrived in the mail last week, a lovely little notebook. Apparently I am one of your most valued customers. In a way that's not a surprise to me. I know how much money I spend at your store. I do love books, as do my kids. I also just love your store - the rich scent of Starbuck's coffee, the comfy chairs to sit in and browse through books and magazines, sometimes someone is there playing on that beautiful grand piano - lovely.

But in a way it does surprise me that I'm still such a good customer since I bought my Sony reader this year. I think I'm spending a LOT less money on books at your store, and a lot more at the Sony store.

So why don't you sell ebooks on-line, Chapters? Then I could still be such a good customer.

I'll still come to your store, because, like I said I enjoy the experience (and I pick up my monthly issue of RT Book Reviews). I know I have to do that sometimes, or else there won't be a store for me to visit. But I do like my ebooks...


Friday, December 4, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 22

Eden by flambard Flckr
Ally knew Jack was going to feel guilty, and a twinge of anxiety fluttered in her tummy, but she felt so incredibly good it was hard to get too worried about it. They’d talk about it and she would convince Jack it was silly to be so worried about Carter.
She stroked his back, the rippling muscles and smooth skin, down over his tightly muscled behind, then back up. His weight squashed her, making it hard to breathe, but it felt so good she wasn’t going to complain. Wow.
After long moments, while his breathing gradually slowed and he regained control of his body, Jack rolled off her and off the bed. He went into her bathroom presumably to get rid of the condom, came out and picked up his jeans from the floor. His face looked like someone had died.
He stepped into his jeans then sat down on the bed beside her. She looked up at him, that small knot of fear growing.
“Do not apologize again,” she hissed and sat up, pulling the duvet cover over her. “I’m the one who instigated that, so you can just blame me. You don’t need to feel guilty.”
He gave a short laugh at that. “Yeah, right.”
Ally snagged his gaze. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”
He closed his eyes. “Ally. We’ve been over this. We shouldn’t be doing this. Carter would be so pissed off at me.”
“But Carter and I are not together!” She sat up and held the sheet to her bare breasts. “I just don’t get this! I know you’re a very loyal person, Jack, but this is crazy.”
He was silent, his lips pressed tightly together.
“He cheated on me,” she said earnestly. “I don’t owe him anything.”
“But I do,” he said gravely.
Ally was silent for a moment. “You know, I was going to tell you that I think I was starting to have feelings for you, too, back in college,” she said slowly. “I was feeling very weird when we were graduating and I didn’t really know what was going on. I wish you had told me how you felt back then.”
His lips twisted. “I was about to, and then I found you and Carter together.”
Her heart sank. She had hurt him without any idea of what she was doing. What a mess.
Jack got up and left her room, quietly shutting the door behind him. She must have dozed off, sexually and emotionally exhausted, because the next thing she knew her alarm was going off at the usual seven-thirty. She lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if she had the guts and the strength to get up and face Jack again after what had happened.
But she didn’t need to worry because he’d already left.

* * *

Jack trekked back to Brittany’s home to do more work on the tree house. Even if Sarah hated it, he needed to distract himself from what had happened last night.
Christ. He’d slept with Ally. His body leaped at the thought, his dick twitching, yet he felt heavy with guilt. He rubbed the back of his neck as he drove. They were supposed to be friends.
Like hell. Since he’d discovered his feelings for her five years ago, the chance of them being just friends was about the same as him dancing naked in the streets of Baghdad. Coming back had driven that realization home.
Carter could never know about it. He and Carter were supposed to get together this weekend and somehow Jack was going to have to pretend it never happened, act as if he and Ally were the friends they’d always been. He could do it. Sure.
He parked in front of Brittany’s house and walked around to the back yard. She’d given him a key so he could come and go, and it was on his key ring next to Ally’s. He paused and studied the two keys, side by side.
The tree house was coming together and actually looked like a house, now. He hoped he could finish it today. Then maybe Sarah would be excited about it.
He’d pictured Sarah out here with him, handing him nails and pieces of lumber. He’d envisioned taking her back to the home center to pick out paint colors for the house once it was done, and the two of them laughing and slopping paint around. He chewed at his bottom lip as he got to work. Maybe they could still do that this weekend.
The familiar drone of a lawnmower stirring up the scent of freshly-cut grass made Jack realize how long it had been since he’d heard and smelled such things. He paused, closed his eyes, transported momentarily back to Garden City, to his own back yard, helping his dad saw and nail and put together a ramshackle tree house with a rope ladder that he’d loved beyond anything.
Emotions squeezed his chest and for a few moments, he longed to go home to Garden City, the last home he’d really known. His relationship with his parents had never really been the same since he’d had to tell them he’d gotten a girl pregnant. Disappointed. Ashamed. He didn’t really know he they felt. They hadn’t talked a whole helluva lot. He’d left for college, had only gone home for holidays, but things had been strained ever since.
He would go see his parents before he left, tell them they had a grand-daughter. God. How were they going to take that? They’d thought things had worked out for the best, but, he was, a father.
Hell, he hoped Sarah would be excited. She’d been so disappointed the house wasn’t exactly what she’d wanted. It wasn’t exactly what he’d planned either, but dammit, it’d be better.
He firmed his lips as he worked, sweating more in the late afternoon heat. He stripped off his T-shirt to work bare-chested. Steadying a nail with one hand he lifted the hammer and brought it down sharply right onto his thumb. “Jesus Christ!” He dropped the nail and the hammer and straightened, clutching his throbbing thumb. “Son of a bitch.”
“Those are bad words.”
He turned to see Sarah frowning at him. He hadn’t realized it was so late.
“Yeah,” he ground out. “Sorry.” He looked at the thumb. No blood. That was good. He flexed it and it moved, another good thing.
“Did you hurt yourself?”
“Yeah. Hammered my thumb.” He shook the hand vigorously. “I’m okay.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That you hurt yourself.”
“Thanks.” He picked up the hammer again with a sigh. “Are you here to help me?”
“I can’t help,” she said solemnly. “I don’t know how to build a tree house.”
“You can be my gopher, okay? Bring me that piece right there.” He gestured with the hammer.
Obediently Sarah picked up it up and brought it over to him. And for a while they worked side by side, Sarah doing whatever he asked of him. She’d gotten over the letdown of the house not being in a tree, apparently, but Jack still felt crappy that he wasn’t able to build what she wanted. He blew out a long breath.
“How’s it going?”
Ally’s voice behind him startled him and he damn near whacked his thumb again. He stood up and turned and her eyes moved over his torso with both heated interest and wariness. He felt himself get even warmer, memories of last night flooding his body with hot lust.
“Good,” he managed to say. “What are you doing here?”
“Just thought I’d stop by and see how you were doing. You’ve been talking about this tree house all week and I was curious.” She dragged her eyes off his body with apparent reluctance and surveyed the structure. “It looks great, Jack. Do you like it, Sarah?”
Sarah tipped her head. “I guess so. I still think it should be in the tree, though.”
“It has a ladder for climbing up into it,” Jack said. “See?”
Sarah nodded. “That’s cool.”
Ally smiled, shot him a told-you-so glance. “Need anything? More nails?”
“A beer would be great,” he muttered, dropping the hammer on the grass.
Ally moved closer. “Brittany just invited us to stay for dinner.”
“Oh. Good.”
Ally’s eyes moved away from his bare chest and abs and surveyed the mess. “Wow,” she said. “That thing is huge.”
“It’s going to take up the whole yard.”
“Um...not quite.”
He saw her lips twitch and his own curved in response. Trust Ally to make him laugh about it.
“And it’s not in the tree,” Sarah put in again, despondently. So she wasn’t quite over her disappointment. He put a hand on her head, wearing her usual ball cap, her long blonde ponytail hanging down her back.
“Sorry, kiddo, it’s the best I could do.”
She nodded. “I’m going to swing.”
They watched her go over and grab hold of two rings hanging from the top bar. She started flipping around like an Olympic gymnast.
Ally and Jack’s eyes met and they stood there, memories of last night coiling around them, drawing them together. Jack felt himself harden and cursed mentally. His body didn’t know that he and Ally couldn’t be together like that – ever again. Ally swayed toward him and he took a step back, saw her eyes darken with hurt.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 23

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I was sick, sick, sick. For a couple of days I couldn't even read because my eyes hurt and my head ached. So I haven't gotten much writing done, but once my eyes felt better I had a few days of laying around on the couch reading.

I finished No Matter What by Erin Nicholas. This was a very sweet touching story, a classic romance. And I read What She Needs by Lacey Alexander. This is one hot hot story. I am very admiring of Ms Alexander in the male hero she created this time - Brent is as sexually adventurous as he tries to teach Jenna to be, and Jenna even comments that he "walks the talk". I loved that and it was sizzling hot, too.

And I've just started reading an advance copy of a Samhain release that's out next week - In the Dark by PG Forte. I cannot put this book down. Already I can tell this book is so different! I'm not one to read a lot of vampire books, but this one has hooked me. More next week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Sex in Fiction Awards!

Yes, it's that time again! Literary Review gave their Bad Sex In Fiction Awards yesterday. I’ve blogged about this award for the last few years and this year’s winners once again have me shaking my head. I know literary fiction is different than romance but the only emotions these excerpts evoke in me is “huh?”

Here’s a nice literary example from Rhyming Life and Death by Amos Oz (Chatto & Windus):

“She holds him tight and squeezes her body to his, sending delightful sailing boats tacking to and fro across the ocean of his back. With her fingertips she sends foam-flecked waves scurrying over his skin... “

Gotta love those metaphors. And let’s extend the marine metaphor even more:

“Attentive to the very faintest of signals, like some piece of sonar equipment that can detect sounds in the deep imperceptible to the human ear, he registers the flow of tiny moans that rise from inside her as he continues to excite her, receiving and unconsciously classifying the fine nuances that differentiate one moan from another, in his skin rather than in his ears he feels the minute variations in her breathing, he feels the ripples in her skin, as though he has been transformed into a delicate seismograph that intercepts and instantly deciphers her body's reactions, translating what he has discovered into skilful, precise navigation, anticipating and cautiously avoiding every sandbank, steering clear of each underwater reef…”

This one from Ten Storey Love Song by Richard Milward (Faber & Faber) is particularly creative:
“They shag at double-speed: Inthekitchenthrydospoonsonthebreakfast baramongstallthecutlerytheninthebathroomtheyshowereachotherwithhotkissesandGeorgiekneelsinthepisserwhileBobbydoesheruptheshitterthenintheloungtheybounceupanddownonthesofathenin thebedroomtheysqueakthespringsofthemattress. Meanwhile, down in Vaginaland, Mr Condom's beginning to feel a bit iffy.”

And the winner for 2009 is Jonathan Littell with The Kindly Ones (Chatto & Windus). I wholeheartedly support this one as the winner. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Her vulva was opposite my face. The small lips protruded slightly from the pale, domed flesh. This sex was watching at me, spying on me, like a Gorgon's head, like a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks. If only I could still get hard, I thought, I could use my prick like a stake hardened in the fire, and blind this Polyphemus who made me Nobody. But my cock remained inert…”

Though then miraculously:

"without moving, I came in an immense splash of white light”.

Awesome feat.

As I mentioned last year, I know that taking passages out of context can render even the most beautiful writing ridiculous, and all these stories probably have much to say about the human experience. I think I’ll keep reading about love.