Mae Clair Presents: Gemma Brocato with An Ancient Introduction to Christmas and MISSION: MISTLETOE

It’s always a pleasure to have Gemma Brocato, friend and Kensington/Lyrical Press sister author on my blog. Not only does she have a great post today about the ancient traditions of Christmas, and her new holiday release MISSION: MISTLETOE, but she’s also brought along a special treat.

Gemma’s novella A WINTER WEDDING is FREE today on Amazon! A continuation of her HEARTS IN HARMONY novel, it’s an ideal holiday read. Grab your copy, then make sure you come back to read Gemma’s post and get the deets on her other holiday romance!

A Winter Wedding Free

Saturnalia — An Ancient Introduction to Christmas
By Gemma Brocato

When I first thought about writing my holiday science fiction novel, I knew I didn’t want to make the story about Christmas per se. I wanted to detail a celebration that went much further back. I began researching the Winter Solstice and discovered Saturnalia, an ancient Roman celebration that laid the foundation for our present day Christmas celebrations. It seemed a perfect solution.

Originally a one-day festival, Saturnalia soon evolved to a full week of celebration due to its popularity. The Emperors Augustus and Caligula tried to reduce the number of days, but the mass populace resisted their efforts. The event was more than just fun, feasting and games. It was a festival to honor Saturn, the god of sowing and the harvest. During the banquet, an effigy of the god could be one of the honored guests.

The best part of the festival was the temporary reversal of roles between masters and their slaves. Masters served meals and slaves were granted luxuries such as gambling and lazing around the house for a change. Their style of dressing tended to be more relaxed during the event. Santa’s hat supposedly originated at this time, a peaked woolen cap that symbolized a freed slave. This is also the time the Lord of Misrule made his first appearance in history. A family member was appointed to serve as host for the celebration.

Many of the traditions of the festival are still visible today. Decorating outdoor trees, placing greenery over doorways, merry-making pranks and gift-giving.

particular tree bare of white poplar and shrubs in the branches of mistletoeMy novella, Mission: Mistletoe is set in the future, where religious celebrations have been outlawed, but a festival for the harvest was allowed. So I set the story on a space station in orbit around Saturn, in December. It’s a story about the medicinal properties of the parasitic plant which is one of the symbols our present day holiday celebrations. The plant thrives off the nutrients of its host, usually an oak or apple tree. Kissing under the mistletoe was first associated with Saturnalia. People revered the plant as the bestower of life and fertility. Ancient Celts worshipped the plant for its mystical powers. It was also believed that Loki used the plant to poison Balder, the god of the summer sun, plunging the world into winter. Balder’s mother, Frigga, goddess of love, wept for her son, and it is said that her tears became the sticky white berries of the plant. She managed to bring her son back to life and in gratitude, kissed everyone who passed beneath the tree on which mistletoe grew.

mistletoe isolated on a white backgroundNow, here’s the sad part. Generally, when you are researching Mistletoe, you’ll come up with sites that display pictures of holly. The holly plant features sharp, pointy leaves and red berries. Mistletoe has white (and sometimes red berries) but its leaves are smooth, elliptical-shaped. So don’t be fooled. Kissing under the holly might be fun, but under the mistletoe, it’s magical.

~ooOOoo~

MISSION:  MISTLETOE
Genre: Science Fiction romance
Publisher: Gemma Brocato
Date of Publication: Nov 19, 2014 
Number of pages:
120

Mission_Mistletoe_Cover_CompressedBook Description:
In her quest to find a cure for the disease that killed her father, Rhayne Drake accepts a position as a researcher on a remote space station. Once in orbit around Saturn, she uncovers the true intent of the study: the ruling political party plans to use her research to kill, instead of cure, anyone carrying the genetic marker for the disease. Including Rhayne herself. 

Griffin Cooper, the station’s recreation manager, is charmed when he meets Rhayne. First he saved her from death by cargo-mover. Now he’ll fight to save her from a worse fate.

Set against a Saturnalia, a winter holiday festival, Rhayne and Griffin must find a way to defeat the political Coalition’s sinister plot before it’s too late.

Excerpt:
Rhayne froze as the over-laden Airfloat bore down, her mouth opened in a silent scream. Holy Titan! She’d die on this transport without ever stepping foot on the space station, not to mention Saturn.

Her breath squeaked out in a rush as someone grabbed her around the waist and swung her out of the path of crushing death. Her body went one direction while her briefcase flew the other. The screeching sound of the airbrakes engaging on the cargo float rang in her ears. A cacophony of other sounds erupted—men roared warnings to watch out and glass broke as boxes crashed to the floor with the sudden stop.

Rhayne’s body came to rest between the solid wall behind her and a hard, man-sized body that covered her, protecting her from falling containers and shattering glass. The aroma of Cassini Ale tainted her olfactory cavities, bitter and astringent, as broken bottles released their contents onto the floor in front of them.

“Are you okay? What in Titan’s name are you doing in the cargo bay? This area is off limits.”

The deep voice was velvety smooth in her ear. Warm breath tickled her cheek, and she rubbed the spot as she nodded her head. The large man eased away enough to give Rhayne her first glimpse of his rugged features.

The flow of his face was mesmerizing. From the top of his perfectly-shaped and completely bald head to strong brows, poised over eyes the color of Earth’s sky just before leaving the atmosphere. A shiny gold earring winked on his earlobe, an oddity in a society that had ceased mutilating their bodies with piercings and tattoos generations ago. He was the kind of rebel she’d fantasized about while at university, where she’d been forced to conform to a regimented curriculum with no room for individuality. Sharp cheekbones and a square, stubbled jaw completed the look. This man was beautiful and dangerous. Rhayne’s breath caught. She cleared her throat attempting to appear less awestruck.

“I turned right when I should have turned left. I’m looking for the off-load bay.” Rhayne frowned at the raspy quality of her voice.

Suddenly aware of her rescuer’s body pressed intimately against hers, she put her hands on his chest and pushed. “You can back away now. The danger is past.”

Purchase MISSION: MISTLETOE from Amazon

Author, Gemma BrocatoAbout the Author:
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to ‘Dear Author’ were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue a vocation as a romance author.

Connect with Gemma at the following haunts:
Website and Blog 
Facebook
Twitter 

Goodreads 
Wattpad
Google+ 

Also By Gemma Brocato:
Cooking Up Love
Hearts In Harmony
Exposed To Passion
A Winter Wedding 

Mae Clair Presents: Gemma Brocato on Noodle Braining

I’m delighted to have Gemma Brocato as my guest blogger today. You’re going to love this post! Grated cheese, anyone?

~ooOOoo~

I have a noodle brain.

Years ago, I heard a comparison on the difference between a male brain and a female brain. Apparently, a man’s brain is set up as compartments, like a waffle. Each box has walls, and men function almost exclusively within those walls. A woman, on the other hand, has a brain like spaghetti, a lot of individual noodles that touch one another. I got to thinking about this comparison in terms of writers and the difference between a plotter, let’s call this writer a waffle brain, and a pantser, you guessed it, a noodle-noggin.

To me, a plotter lives in one compartment at a time, the focus on the action, goals, motivation and conflict. Each box has room for only one issue, and all the boxes march neatly to a conclusion. When a plotter is writing according to the outline they’ve developed, they are like guys. When they are at work, they are only focused on work, in the kitchen creating, that’s it. When a plotter is focused on a turning point, or the set-up, or whatever, their undivided attention is on the single item.

Let me just say, I have a spaghetti brain. Every noodle on the plate intersects in someway. I can switch from one noodle to the next without missing a beat (not quite Lady and the Tramp, but darn close. I’m a romance writer afterall). Every thought and issue in my story is connected to every other issue in some way. The story flows, without following a logical path.

Being a spaghetti brain allows me to multitask like nobody’s business. Whether it’s in the kitchen, where I can fix a meal, talk on the phone, make a shopping list, jot down a story idea and answer questions from the other occupants of my home, or in the worlds that exist in my mind. I can edit one story, leap over to the next to add words to the page, brainstorm a story concept and create promotional artwork within a very short span of time. And here is the most important part: Things don’t fall through the cracks, I keep the facts straight, and the stories move forward in a logical progression. In other words, the sauce sticks to the noodles. And I do all of this without an outline or storyboard or vision map.

The way I see it, there isn’t a wrong way to write a story. You just have to write it in a way that works for you. And I love spaghetti.

AUTHOR BIO:Gemma Brocato
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to ‘Dear Author’ were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

CONNECT WITH GEMMA AT THE FOLLOWING HAUNTS:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads 

Gemma Brocato is the author of the FIVE SENSES romance series.
COOKING UP LOVE and HEARTS IN HARMONY are available now, with EXPOSED TO PASSION (coming October 2014) available for pre-order

HIH Cover2HEARTS IN HARMONY BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Sometimes life’s most simple melodies become songs of love.

Pippa Sanders’ life is filled with songs of leaving, longing and loneliness. Since the death of her husband, her children have been her world. She’ll do anything to protect them, including encasing her heart in ice until they’re college age. She’s made a practice of shying away from any relationship that could break her heart when it ends. And it’s worked so far.

Clay Mathers has made a temporary move to Granite Pointe, Massachusetts to help with his mother’s Christmas tree farm while she recovers from a stroke. Although his long-range plans don’t include staying in the small town, a little female companionship during his short residency would be welcome. While on duty as sentry against protestors at a military funeral, he finds Pippa visiting her husband’s grave, and begins a campaign to make her into a friend–with benefits.

What starts as a simple affair evolves to something more, something that changes the soundtracks of both their lives…the beating of two hearts in harmony.

CONTENT WARNING: Contains strong language, hot sex and a spicy hero.

Purchase HEARTS IN HARMONY from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo

Mae Clair Presents: Feminist or goddess – why must women choose? by Cate Masters

Please welcome my guest blogger for the day, Cate Masters with her new release GODDESS, AWAKENED. In connection with her novel, she has an intriguing post to share about how women should be treated and how they view themselves. Check it out!

~ooOOoo~

Feminist or goddess – why must women choose?
by Cate Masters

A funny thing happened during the release party for Goddess, Awakened. At first, we were having fun, discussing mythological goddesses and favorite authors and books.

Then someone asked if my book promoted feminism. The question confused me at the time. Here was my answer:

“Not at all. The theme encourages women to empower themselves by accepting who they truly are and strengthening their unique talents. All things positive.”

Maybe I should explain why I began writing this series, The Goddess Connection, which will all be paranormals/fantasies based in mythology, all stand-alones, each based on a different goddess.

I love empowering women. Celebrating their uniqueness. Each of us have talents or skills we might view as quirks, and maybe we even dislike ourselves because of them. Or maybe we simply ignore them to fit into a more standardized life where we go through the motions but don’t really feel fulfilled.

In each of these books, the heroine will have lifelong quirks that she sees as detrimental, but by the end, she’ll learn that these quirks are actually strengths. They help define her as an individual, and that’s not a bad thing.

So it saddened me that, when I read the answers to one of the questions I posed at the party, “Do you think women should be treated like goddesses?” and some said no. Some argued women shouldn’t be put on a pedestal – and I agreed:

“that’s definitely not the message I want to send. As I mentioned above, the idea is *not* to put women on a pedestal or treat them as divas, but to value who they are in all their flaws, unique beauty, and talents. The theme of the Goddess Connection is for women to nurture that in themselves, too, and not let others devalue us. I hope that makes sense.”

And then I saw this article on HuffPost: “Women Against Feminism is a Thing. And We’re Confused.” http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/14/women-against-feminism-tumblr-facebook-_n_5585163.html

I’m definitely confused too. Obviously, these young women have the wrong idea about feminism. Maybe they picture a militant society where females are barely distinguishable from males, some sci-fi interpretation that skews the real meaning. To me, feminism honors the struggle and hardships women endured to receive basic rights that should be afforded any human. To vote. To have an education. To choose for themselves how to live their lives. To better themselves in whatever way that appeals to them.

Lately, I’ve been seeing the term thrown around pretty freely, and it’s disturbing. Another article claimed the Starz series based on Diana Gabaldon’s work was the “feminist” answer to Game of Thrones. Why do journalists feel the need to pit one show against another? One gender against another? (Yes, I know – to boost ratings)

The HuffPost article put the question about a feminist label for my books in perspective, and if someone asks again, I’ll have to better qualify my answer.

Yes, to be a goddess means to embrace your best self. The only way to do that is by freeing yourself from restraints, either from outside or originating in yourself.

In my mind, the same definition applies to feminism.

And if you’re interested in The Goddess Connection, the first book is now available from Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Press imprint. Here’s a bit more to tease your imagination:

Goddess-Awakened-MEDThe Goddess Connection Book 1
Goddess, Awakened
Blurb 

With a little help from a goddess, battling evil is a piece of cake for Jocelyn Gibson.

A descendant of the goddess Iris, Jocelyn Gibson may have forgotten about the realm of magic, but it hasn’t forgotten her. When Eric Hendricks is targeted by a demon, Joss must step in to battle the evil and save the town’s awkward, but endearing, vet…who also happens to be the man she loves.

Joss’s new inn, a culinary career specializing in cooking with lavender and a new love all make for a fine recipe of disaster. She needs to embrace her inner goddess and harness the powers she never knew she had before it’s too late.

Mini excerpt
In starting her life over, Joss had expected some resistance, even some trouble, but not this. The bedroom floor boards trembled beneath her golden-slippered feet. Tendrils of an unseen power curled upward from deep within the ground, tingling through her toes. She paused to steady herself, then continued to put the finishing touches on her costume. The tremors grew into rumbles and their hum seeped beneath her skin. When their tiny wisps twined through her mind, she clenched her hands. Enough. Go away.

Thick as starlight on a clear summer’s eve, sweet as the lavender blossoms she had yet to plant, energy whooshed up through the cracks of the worn wood and out into the October night.

She gripped the bureau until it passed, the vibrations rolling over her in lessening waves. Bubbly, effervescent waves. “Third time tonight, Taz.” Each departure took longer, and more of the essence remained.

When the dog whined, she stroked his fur. “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you.”

Even if tonight the waves were palpable enough to make her hairs stand on end. Oh, no, please.

Nothing could ruin tonight. More than a party, this event would determine her future. And after three years of grief, she’d never allow anything to trap her in its clutches again.

Goddess, Awakened
The Goddess Connection, Book 1
Fantasy/paranormal romance novel
About 89,700 words
Purchase from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks | Kensington 

About the Author
Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com  and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Connect with Cate Masters at the following haunts:
Website
Email: cate.masters@gmail.com
Facebook
Twitter:  @CateMasters

Book video Link 

Mae Clair Presents: Carmen Stefanescu and Paranormal Romanian Folklore

In the spirit of Mythical Monday, Carmen Stefanescu, my guest today, arrives with shiver-inducing tales of Romanian Folklore. Carmen is the author of SHADOWS OF THE PAST, a paranormal romance available now. I invited her to share some legends from her native Romania, where she resides and pens her stories. Please welcome Carmen to my blog.

~ooOOoo~

Paranormal Romanian Folklore
by Carmen Stefanescu

Though Dracula, the infamous vampire, comes from my country, there are other “spooky” things around here. I thank my host for the suggestion she made to me to write a guest post on paranormal folklore in Romania. An interesting topic indeed, especially that there is an abundance of beliefs and superstitions coming along generations, from the mist of times: Ielele (a kind of nymphs), The Living Fire (leaping flames coming out of the earth), The Fate Heralds, The Forest Shrew, The Gentles’ Easter are just a few that come to my mind. I’ll enlarge only on the first two I’ve mentioned above, as I don’t want to bore you.

Romanian folklore is dominated by a main theme regarding the magic, paranormal things happening on two nights: St. Andrew’s eve and Sanziene’s night. The sky’s gates open and witches are ready to get in touch with the spirits.

Ielele are considered as wicked/bad fairies. They have no flesh body and are seen as ghostly apparitions. They are always merry, mischievous and dance draped in white silk, wearing flower wreaths on their heads. The earth beneath their feet is burned and grass will rarely grow again. If it grows, it will have a dark color and cattle will not graze it. The only plant that grows, on the place these fairies dance on, is a mushroom called  “the fairies’ spoon”. People refer to the wicked fairies as deities who, if bothered during their dance, will harm the intruders turning them deaf or dumb. Wearing cloves of garlic at the belt may prevent such misfortunes to happen.

The living fire or the fire that comes out of the earth is said to be a sign that, beneath it, there’s a treasure. People speak of the Dacians’ gold, hidden in the underground. The flames do not harm the people and this mysterious fire can be seen on special nights, like the eve of St Andrew or on Sanziene’s night. (Sanziene is the only pagan celebration included in the Christian  Orthodox calendar and is always on 24th June. People say that the name Sanziene would come from the Roman goddess Diana. Sanziene are fairies who may help people find their soul mates, or get good crops all along the year. Others say the name Sanziene comes from a kind of yellow field flowers with a sweet fragrance.)

On these two nights, young men keep vigil on certain areas, where they noticed the fire before, and if they see the flames they mark the place and then, the following day, they come and dig. If they find the treasure, they must leave some coins of gold in that place, otherwise the curse put on the treasure will follow them.  The treasure finders must bring this offering to the Earth’s Dog, the one who is said to guard the treasure. Old people speak about reckless young folks who disobeyed the warning and, mastered by unexplained greed, took the whole treasure without leaving any offering. The curse soon affected them and they lost both the treasure and their life.

Well, I haven’t seen any of the above but I won’t say all these are just figments of people’s imagination. You know the saying: “Without a fire there’s no smoke.” I do believe in ghosts, reincarnation and karmic retribution too. You’ll find these in my paranormal romance Shadows of the Past, released by Wild Child Publishing.

I really appreciate being hosted on your blog today, Mae!

Author Carmen Stefanescu holding an open bookAUTHOR BIO
Carmen Stefanescu was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.

She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.

Connect with Carmen at the following haunts:
Website and Blog
Facebook
Twitter @Carmen_Books
Pinterest

shadowsofthepastbkSHADOWS OF THE PAST
Publish date
: 4th December 2012
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Genre: Paranormal/Light Romance/lLight Horror.

Anne’s relationship with her boyfriend Neil has disintegrated. After a two-year separation, they pack for a week vacation in hopes of reconciling. But fate has other plans for them.

The discovery of a bejeweled cross and ancient human bones opens a door to a new and frightening world–one where the ghost of a medieval nun named Genevieve will not let Anne rest. This new world threatens not only to ruin Anne and Neil’s vacation but to end all hopes of reconciliation as Anne feels compelled to help free Genevieve’s soul from its torment.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve find her eternal rest?

A touching, compelling story of tragedy, loss and the power of endless love and good magic.

The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love.

Purchase SHADOWS OF THE PAST from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Wild Child Publishing
All Romance Books

View the Book Trailer for SHADOWS OF THE PAST

Mae Clair Welcomes Guest Blogger Brooke Williams

I’m happy to turn my blog over today to author, Brooke Williams, who shares a post about writers and one book’s journey to publication:

Why I Write Anything I Write 

Guest blogger…Brooke Williams

I often tell people that to me, writing is like breathing. It is a necessary thing that I do because I have to in order to get through my day. I write because I am awake. I write because I am so inspired by an idea or thought that I simply can’t avoid it. It is something that I HAVE to write down.

The first time that happened to me…an itch to write that was so large I could no longer avoid it…”Someone Always Loved You” resulted.
Book cover for Someone Always Loved You by Brooke Williams depicting ambulance and a close-up of clasped hands

“Someone Always Loved You” is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. The idea came from my thoughts surrounding coma patients. My grandmother was in a coma on two separate occasions. As a child, I wondered if she could hear what was going on around her and what she might be thinking. When I grew up, I always wanted to write a book based around someone in a coma.

The basic idea festered in my head for many years and then, out of the blue, the scene for the prologue came to me. Without giving too much away, the scene included an ambulance driver who, on his very first day on the job, hits a pedestrian on her way into the hospital. That pedestrian is then thrown into a coma.

The novels stems from there and once I had the prologue written out, I really had no idea what would happen next. What DID happen next was as much a surprise to me as it is to the readers I have heard from who couldn’t believe the twists and turns the book takes.

People ask how I came up with this or that in the book…was any of it based on real life? The answer is yes and no. The book is a combination of things from my life as well as completely made up items. For example, there is a couple in the book that meets on the Internet. My husband and I met on the Internet. Some of the memories the character in a coma has are similar to things that happened to me. On the other side, there are characters that I have no connection with in the real world at all.

And that’s what makes fiction so great. It can be completely you and completely not you all at the same time. “Someone Always Loved You” is a book that is so close to my heart, I could never part with it. My husband eventually put it up on Amazon in kindle format and I went on to publish it in paperback, more for family and friends and fun than anything else.

But as the years went on and I began a real career in freelance writing and eventually as an author, I realized this book deserved to be read. It caught on a bit without my doing anything at all and people were buying it. I noticed when I started getting very small royalty payments from Amazon. Each month those payments rose and I was excited that people were enjoying the book.

My goal with this book is that those who read it enjoy it even half as much as I enjoyed writing it. If that happens, I am happy. I don’t expect it to pay my bills. I simply want it to do for others what it did for me.

“Someone Always Loved You” is a book that wrote itself using me as a vessel to get out! I am thankful for it in many ways. It showed me that I could write a full novel, which I have done numerous times since then. It showed me a range of emotions I didn’t know I had. And so much more.

BLURB:
His first day on the job, ambulance driver Jay has a horrible accident. The victim of the crash is thrown into a coma and Jay keeps vigil by her side. As their lives, past and present intertwine; a story of love through time unfolds. An intricate drama including adoption, love, suspense, and plenty of questions, Someone Always Loved You is a novel that keeps the mind churning and the soul alive.

Author Brooke WilliamsAUTHOR BIO:
Brooke Williams is a former radio announcer turned freelance writer and author. She has several books under contract including “Wrong Place, Right Time,” a romantic comedy due to be released December 9th; “Accept this Dandelion,” coming February 2015, and “Mamarazzi,” slated for release in August 2015. Brooke even has a children’s book on the horizon for February 2016. Brooke is the mother to two young girls, Kaelyn and Sadie, and she has been married to her husband Sean since 2002.

Connect with Brooke at the following haunts:
Facebook
Website
Email: Authorbrookewilliams@gmail.com

Purchase SOMEONE ALWAYS LOVED YOU from
Amazon 

Zelda Benjamin Dishes up Chocolate Bliss by Mae Clair

Today, I’m turning my blog over to guest blogger, Zelda Benjamin, who is sharing a thoroughly yummy post. And I do mean “yummy.” Who doesn’t like chocolate? How clever of Zelda to weave this sweet treat through her series of contemporary romance novels.

Whether you prefer milk, dark (my personal favorite) or white, grab some chocolate and enjoy!

~ooOOoo~

What I Learned From Chocolate

With my 5th and last book in my Love by Chocolate series coming out in June, I took a break and looked back at all the witty and interesting chocolate information I’ve collected. It’s been fun and very informative. Chocolate says a lot. Eating and preparing  chocolate is like any life experience. You have to be creative, daring, and adventurous.

Book cover for Chocolate Sensibility by Zelda Benjamin

Book cover for Chocolate Couture by Zelda BenjaminBook cover for Chocolate Muse by Zelda BenjaminBook cover for Chocolate Magic by Zelda Benjamin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book cover for Chocolate Secrets by Zelda Benjamin

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hero in Chocolate Secrets is a NYC firefighter who bakes decadent chocolate cakes. To preserve the honor of his firehouse, he’s searching for the best ingredients for his entry in the annual firefighters bake-off. An old family feud keeps my heroine from sharing a secret frosting recipe with this sexy firefighter.

Searching for the best chocolate cake recipe took some time and a lot of chocolate tasting. I realized that best means something different to everyone. Some bakers had no problem using a prepared cake mix. The frosting, filling, and decorations were what made the cake. Others said it was all about the cake.

While doing research for Chocolate Magic, I learned that chocolate produces the same chemical in the brain that’s released when you’re in love.  Chloe’s specialty hand made chocolate and hot cocoa thrill everyone. Everyone except, Ethan Behar who Chloe believes might be imbalanced for love.

In Chocolate Muse, Maddie is horrified when her signature torta di chocolate gets trashed by a reviewer she nearly poisoned. Out of fear of harming someone else, she backs away from her career and unknowingly into the life of the man responsible for her bad luck. As she regains her confidence, she learns to trust.

Did you know that the chocolate center or the shape of the candy you choose from a box of chocolate can tell a lot about your relationships, your strengths, and your weaknesses?

Rectangle chocolate lovers are loyal. If you prefer a swirl, you’re bursting with energy and attracted to challenges. How about a walnut filling? You’ve got a heart of gold. To find out more about what your chocolate passion means, checkout http://www.amazon.com/Chocolate-Therapy-Discover-Inner-Center/dp/1580081088/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401197342&sr=1-1&keywords=chocolate+therapy

In Chocolate Couture hearts melt and emotions sizzle when the Queen of Cakes clashes with the King of Burgers and Fries.

Chocolate speaks a universal language and brings the world together. Sharing chocolate elevates everyone’s mood and can make friends out of rivals.

My research for Chocolate & Sensibility took me in a different direction. Set in a tropical rainforest where all that wonderful chocolate originates, the facts increased my awareness of the delicate balance of the rainforest. It has made me more aware of the origins of the chocolate I eat. I learned the importance of buying sustainable chocolate. For more info go to http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/work/agriculture/cocoa

Did you know it takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate?

Switzerland, Austria, and Ireland are the top 3 consumers of chocolate. The US is #11.

Sadly I have to confess, I am not a from scratch baker. Semi-home made is more my style. I’d like to share one of the simple recipes I discovered. It was originally published in Better Homes and Gardens. To keep it simple, I use a ready mixed yellow cake mix and a 1/3 of a cup (you can use more or add sugar to make it sweeter) of any form of cocoa powder left over from a hot chocolate binge.

Cocoa Ripple Ring

Cocoa ring cakeLayer batter in thirds, alternating with cocoa mixture, into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, till toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan then turn out onto a plate,

Enjoy

 

 

7Author Bio
Zelda is an RN, author, and lover of everything chocolate. She writes sweet, but sensual contemporary romance. She loves to travel with her family. No destination is too far. From Brooklyn, NY to Auckland, NZ there are stories everywhere.

For more information about Zelda visit her website www.zeldabenjamin.com

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Tera Shanley on Friendship, Romance, and Westerns with An Unwilling Husband

I’m delighted to welcome my Lyrical Press/Kensington Books sister, Tera Shanely, back to my blog to share her newest release, AN UNWILLING HUSBAND. I love the idea behind this story and can’t wait to devour it from cover to cover. I’ve always had a soft spot for westerns. Today, I’m turning my blog over to Tera for a very cool guest post about friendship. Check it out!

~ooOOoo~

A Closer Look at the Importance of Companionship in the Wild West

Hello all! My name is Tera Shanley and I’m the author of the brand new Historic Western Romance release, An Unwilling Husband. First off, a huge thank you to Mae for letting the unruly Wild West come to visit today!

Have you ever read a book where a secondary character stands out to you long after you’ve flipped the last page? For An Unwilling Husband, Lenny is that character.

Originally, when I started writing the book, Lenny and her uncle, Cookie, were only supposed to be in the background. But as the story started taking place, and the characters spoke their wants louder and softer as is natural in a writer’s head, Lenny catapulted herself into this position of significant friendship for our dear Maggie, heroine of the book. She ended up playing a huge part in helping Maggie to find her strength in a world that was determined to bring her to her knees. Lenny never looked at her as a silly proper lady in the wrong place, or as a fragile woman incapable of big things. From years of friendship with Garret, Lenny knew the high durability a woman had to have to secure our reluctant hero’s affection, and determined, she pressed Maggie to grow stronger for him.

She comforts Maggie through tragedy, teaches her the ropes around the ranch, and when Maggie’s life is on the line, it’s Lenny who finds help. With Lenny’s unwavering aid, Maggie learns to cook, shoot, and run a ranch, and all without a single word between the women, because they don’t speak the same language. She is Comanche, you see. But through the story, Lenny proves that true friendship trumps a language barrier any day.

She was a blast to write and research, and I loved the challenge of giving her a voice without really using her voice.

I hope you’ll check out An Unwilling Husband and read for yourself why Maggie and Lenny’s friendship is hitting such a sweet chord with reviewers.

5 Huge Stars –

I loved Cookie and Lenny, especially Lenny, she’s amazing and beautiful and just perfect for Maggie to have as a friend.” – Nanee of Up All Night, Read All Day

AUH Blog Tour Cover

An Unwilling Husband
By Tera Shanley
Genre: Historic Western Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation/Imprint: Lyrical Press
Length: 310 pages

BLURB:
For adventurous Margaret Flemming, arrived from Boston to be with her father, the Old West town of her childhood is a far cry from the drawing rooms and balls of the high society life she’s used to. Her fancy gowns and proper manners have no place in the dusty, cruel land inhabited by Indians and rough cowboys. And her fiercely independent streak constantly gets her in trouble. When tragedy strikes, there’s only one person she can turn to–her childhood friend, Garret Shaw–but he’s disgusted with her Society ways.

With his ranch under attack from the land-grabbing Jennings, the last thing Garret needs is to be saddled with a high-falutin’ lady. Even if she is his friend’s daughter and her kind ways tug at his hardened heart. Duty to her father forces them to wed, but he knows sure as anything, when the chance comes along, she’ll go back to Boston. No matter how much he wants her, loving her is not a risk he can take.

Will Maggie choose a life of luxury and ease over struggle and hardship with an ill-mannered cowboy? Only her heart can answer.

author picAUTHOR BIO:
Tera Shanley writes in sub-genres that stretch from Paranormal Romance, to Historic Western Romance, to Apocalyptic (zombie) Romance. The common theme? She loves love! A self-proclaimed bookworm, she was raised in small town Texas and could often be found decorating a table at the local library. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and two young children and when she isn’t busy running around after her family, she’s writing a new story or devouring a good book. Any spare time is dedicated to chocolate licking, rifle slinging, friend hugging, and the great outdoors. For more information about Tera and her work, visit www.terashanley.com.

Connect with Tera and the following haunts:
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Purchase AN UNWILLING HUSBAND from:
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The Best Creative Writing Prompts from the Internet

Today, I am turning my blog over to Nikolas Baron of Grammarly with a post that should appeal to writers. Whether you’ve hit a dry spell or are just looking to flex your creative muscle, I think you’ll find Nikolas’ post intriguing.

The Best Creative Writing Prompts from the Internet

open binder with lined paper, a pen and eye glasses resting on topIn theater, the prompt saves millions of careers with just a few whispered words. A prompt is a person whose job it is to feed lines to actors when they forget. Without this individual, the actor might never remember the forgotten line, resulting in embarrassment for the theater company. Writers also need prompts. In the literary world, the term refers to written cues rather than to an individual. Prompts provide the inspiration, and writers can use the idea as a jumping off point for creativity. Do you need prompting? At Grammarly, the writers that I have come in contact with say that they need a spark from time to time to light the fire of creativity. I like to study the strategies and tools that writers use to be successful, so I decided that it was time to sift through the millions of writing prompt websites on the Web. Here are some of the best.

Creative Writing Prompts

Let’s start with sheer number. This website had 346 writing prompts. The prompt labeled #2 asks you to choose the fourteenth photograph from a photo album and write about how it makes you feel. I like this one because it forces you to randomize your selection. We naturally gravitate to certain photographs when we flip through our photo collection- standout events in our lives, good times, or smiling faces. However, who knows what is captured in mysterious photograph 14? Find out, and write about it!

1001 Story Ideas

This website wins my personal prize for best organized. Though the website features only science fiction prompts, the 1001 ideas are categorized into parts. There are 17 parts, so you are covered from the apocalypse to “Zombies, werewolves, vampires, and other monsters.” If 1001 isn’t enough, there are a few more worthy sci-fi writing prompts found here.

Writing Prompts App

If you like to have prompts available at all times, you might enjoy Writing.com’s Writing Prompts app for Android. You can use app to generate your own randomized prompts. I have not used it personally, but it may be worth a gamble at $1.99.

Ink quill, feather pen and an old journalUn-creative Writing Prompts

This set of cues is targeted to non-fiction writers. However, the prompts are so amusing that fiction writers often get a kick out of them. They are also adaptable. For example, one prompt published on the site encourages you to think about this question:

“What is [your product]’s drug of choice? Write about a night where something goes wrong with its dose and it’s dragged through the pits of its own internal hell, afraid to die but more afraid to be found out and branded for life.”

You could have fun answering this questions for the products in your own home, or simply replace “[your product]” with the name of one of your characters.

Droste effect

This is not a website about prompts. This is a picture within a picture within a picture….!

The reason that I included this photograph was to introduce a cool idea for a writing prompt. First, as an exercise you can generate several prompts. That’s right; the prompt is to write some prompts! After you do that, you can use the prompts that you wrote as writing prompts. It is a prompt within a prompt!

The Internet is a great source for all types of writing tools for writers. You can find online proof reading, dictionaries, writing clubs, and much more. Why not explore the Web today and see what you find? You can create a file of useful websites for future reference. Do not forget to create a file of writing prompts that are sure to bring you inspiration!

By Nikolas Baron

——————————————————//————————————————————-

BIO:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

Meet Christina Thompson and CHEMICAL REACTION #Giveaway

Today, I’m happy to share my blog with Christina Thompson, an author who is great at blending thriller-type suspense, mystery, and romance in her novels. I’m currently reading her latest release, CHEMICAL REACTION (isn’t the cover stunning?) and love the swift pacing she employs. It’s great to reconnect with so many of the same characters I loved from CHEMICAL ATTRACTION, her first novel in a series by the same name.

I hope you enjoy her guest post. It’s a wonderful look at attraction and love. Christina will also be awarding a PRINT copy of CHEMICAL ATTRACTION to one commenter, so be sure to include your email address when you comment so she can contact you. I can vouch that you are in for a fabulous read, complete with danger, mystery and…LeSigh!…romance!

Chemical Reaction Cover Art

Thank you, Mae, for hosting me as I promote my romantic thriller Chemical Reaction from The Chemical Attraction Series. I appreciate your support and I’m honored to be your guest blogger today.

Even before I started writing, relationships have fascinated me ─specifically the married ones. I love hearing the “How We Met” stories. Couples enjoy sharing their unique history. Some say, “I knew right away.” Others laugh and say, “I hated him at first.” A husband once told me that he chased after his wife for a year before convincing her he was “the one”. The stories may seem similar, but none are the same.

Whether you’ve just met or you’ve known each other for years, there’s that single defining moment when you realize you’re in love with this person. Your perspective suddenly changes, and you think, “Why didn’t I see that before?” Women have mentioned a small gesture from their one that fills them with pure joy. Warmth washes over you, goose bumps appear from a light touch, or your heart flutters with knowing.

My mom said she “knew” almost fifty years ago when my dad placed his hand at the small of her back as they walked along a busy sidewalk. At a dinner party, Kraig held my hand under the table as we ate … an intimate gesture in a crowded room while reassuring me with his smile and dreamy blue eyes. ((Sigh)) Oh, um, uh, what was I saying? Oh, yeah.

I think it’s one of the reasons romance novels are extremely popular. Who doesn’t want to feel that newness and excitement of meeting “the one”? It gives us hope that the unlimited possibilities are out there just waiting to happen to us.

In The Chemical Attraction Series, I wanted Joe and Madeline to feel an immediate attraction, then work well together from the start ─Them against the World. Joe and Madeline learn throughout the series that their scars make them who they are and what they love about each other. The healing power of Love is incredibly profound.

Matt and Eva Connor, another couple in the series, have been married for ten years and are still crazy about each other. I’ve shared a little of their backstory. Later in the series, I’ll show their unique history of love, sacrifice, and devotion from their beginning.

I truly believe there is nothing ordinary about any relationship. Do you remember that single moment in time that when you “knew” you found your “one”? Care to share? Or are you saving it for your own romance novel?

GIVEAWAY:
One commenter will win a print copy of CHEMICAL ATTRACTION, the first novel in Christina’s series. Be sure to include your email address when commenting so Christina can contact you!

CHEMICAL REACTION BLURB:
In Chemical Reaction, the sequel to Chemical Attraction, FBI Agent Joe Roberts and his fiancée, Dr. Madeline Pierce, must track down a rage-producing nano-drug before it devastates the nation.

Staying in Detroit with the FBI, Madeline works to develop an antidote from the confiscated journals. She clashes with the women from Joe’s past. In West Michigan, Joe hunts for the bio-weapon. With a history as a player, he’s worried his relationship with Madeline is at risk. Working apart, they attempt to focus on the threat.

Before Joe returns, agents are killed, Madeline is abducted, and the deadly nano-drug is put on the market. Without the journals, the mastermind needs Madeline to reproduce the drug.

While she plays a dangerous game of deceit, Joe struggles to put his fears of losing her aside to find the weapon first. Her life, their future, and the nation’s security are in jeopardy. Joe must now choose between his personal desire and his professional integrity. Can he live with the consequences?

Purchase CHEMICAL REACTION From:
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Add CHEMICAL REACTION to your Goodreads List

Christina press photo 2About the Author:
Christina Thompson, a retired acupuncturist, enjoys writing about the physical science, the emotional workings of our mind and heart, and the spiritual energy that taps into our passions. Her degree in biology from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo gave her a love of science and a background into the physical realm of the body. Her diploma in Traditional Chinese acupuncture from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine taught her that the mind and spirit affect the body in powerful ways.

She is the small business co-owner of Divine-ation Creations, which develops holistic products of self-discovery and universal awareness. She continues to teach on many topics including massage therapy, acupuncture, Feng Shui as well as other modalities of Chinese medicine. She currently resides with her husband, Kraig, in West Michigan.

Visit Christina at the following haunts:
Website
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A Pen Pal Welcome to Christina Cole

bigstock-Stacks-of-old-letters-on-woode-43415203I’m pleased to have guest blogger Christina Cole here today. Christina and I connected after I read her novel, HAPPILY EVER AFTER. How can you resist a title like that? Well, I couldn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t. Immediately after reading it, I contacted Christina and invited her to guest on my blog. She has a new release coming up in August called SUMMERTIME, so the “timing” was perfect.

Please welcome author Christina Cole as she takes control of my pen for the day! 🙂

~ooOOoo~

Summertime is  Coming!

Here in the midwest — I live in Missouri — it’s been a long and bitterly cold winter. I don’t like snow and ice, and unfortunately we had not inches of the cold stuff, but FEET of it this year.

We struggled through a horrible blizzard in December. Unfortunately I was away from home when it hit, and I had to drive forty miles in it. Truly, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Visibility was no more than a foot, and I was gripping the steering wheel so tight my knuckles were whiter than the huge flakes coming down. As soon as I reached home, I burst into tears and collapsed in my husband’s arms, so shaken up I couldn’t do anything but cry. I cried for hours afterward. To say it was a nerve-wracking experience would be quite an understatement.

Then, in February, two more blizzards hit. When the first one came, we were both safely home, warm and cozy. We weren’t so lucky a few days later when the next one came. Yes, we knew bad weather was on the way, but due to a family emergency we had no choice but to get out, head for the hospital, and pray we’d be able to make it back home later. We did…but barely. We had to “abandon ship” — well, abandon vehicle — about a block from the house. Two days later, we finally got the car shoveled out and safely home again.

We went through another blast of winter the following week. Things got better for a little while…just an inch or two of snow, here and there, now and then. Lots of frigid temperatures though. Oh, how I looked forward to March and the arrival of spring!

March came…but spring didn’t. The snow and ice and cold lingered on, right into April. We had several inches more snow toward mid-month, and winter wasn’t over yet. Although we did have a few warm, sunny days at the first of May, incredibly, the snow returned for one final wintry blast.

Yep. Snow. The month of May. Even though I’ve lived my entire life in the midwest and have seen a lot of weather extremes, I couldn’t wrap my brain around those words — together. For the record, yes, it has snowed here in May before. The weathermen quickly dug through the archives and informed us all that snow had fallen in Missouri in May of 1935.

Was winter finished with us then? Almost…but not quite. On Mother’s Day, it didn’t snow, but it did frost. Temperatures fell down to the upper 20s Farenheit.

Brrrr! What a long and miserable winter it was!

Throughout those long, cold, snowy days, I kept my thoughts focused on summertime. I imagined hot days with the sun burning down upon the earth.  I thought of brightly-colored sunflowers dancing in the breeze. I dreamed of fragrant summer nights with moonlight and stars, and I conjured up images of lush green fields, azure skies, and sunlight rippling over the surface of a lake.

All of these fanciful bits and pieces came together in my writing as I told a tale of love. Summertime became a season of  hopes and dreams, a season of passion. Could it also be a season of forgiveness?

Here’s a quick little peek at the story of
SUMMERTIME 
coming in August from
Secret Cravings Pubishing

Linn Sparks wanted all life had to offer. Fame, fortune, glamour and excitement. She found it as a star of the stage at the Crown Theater in San Francisco.

For Ed Ferguson, life was far less complicated. All he wanted was Linnie Mae, but she’d left him standing alone at the altar seven years before when she’d run off to pursue her dreams.

Now, it’s 1914, war is breaking out in Europe, and Linn Sparks has come home to Brookfield, Kansas.

But coming back means facing a lot of unpleasant realities: a strained relationship with a father who never wanted her,  a mother whose grasp on sanity is slipping away, and the feelings she still has for the love she left behind.

Ed still wants Linnie Mae, but he knows she won’t stay. How can he spend the summer being near her and not get his heart broken again?

Between them, passions flare in the heat of SUMMERTIME.

~~~~

For more on Christina’s historical romances, please visit her at

Time for Love  
Facebook: Christina Cole 
Twitter: @KCChristinaCole