It's New Year's Eve!
What are you all doing to celebrate the end of 2012 & the start of 2013? Are you making new goals for the coming year? Are you ringing in the new year with a party? Or staying home and snuggling up to your loved ones?

I actually slept in this morning for the first time in my 1 1/2 weeks of vacation. (Yes, sleeping in until 8 am is sleeping in for me!) So I feel awake and ready to take on the day. I hope to get a lot of writing done on my current project. I'd hoped to have it done by tomorrow but...it may not be quite there. There were a few more holiday get togethers this past week than I'd planned (and I loved every one of them!) so I may not get it done, but it'll be close. This little bit of vacation has given me a taste of what 2013 has in store when I leave my day job to write full time and I have to admit I can't wait!

In order to get ready for my new full time career, I know I need to make a plan. Organize my projects and plan promotions - but that's the subject for another blog post.

I'm going to finish out the year the way I expect the next one to continue, writing sexy emotional stories for readers to enjoy. Breathing life into characters for readers to fall in love with. And with only 8 more days at the day job, I'll be able to write more stories!

Bring on 2013!!


Oh, and I'm thrilled to see that Silken Canvas is on the best sellers list on the Samhain site! Not a bad way to finish out 2012! :)

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2013 brings amazing things to you all!

Natasha
Silken Canvas - available now
www.natashamoore.com
My Favorite Week Of The Year

The week between Christmas and New Year is my favorite week of the year. Not because it’s bookended by two holidays, but because nobody works. Even for those of us who do have to go into an office or punch a time clock during that week, little work actually gets done. Yes, despite the fact our bodies are there, we’re on a mental vacation.  (And getting paid for it!)

On the other hand, it can also be a pretty productive week. Without the pressure of work deadlines, we can get caught up on all that stuff that piles up day-after-day at the office or out in the field. We can also do this if we're at home that week. So it can be very beneficial from that perspective, too.

Whichever way you spend it, the week between Christmas and New Year, for me, at least, always seems to pass very slowly. Time crawls. Which is good. We all tend to rush through our days, anxious to get everything done, but like my yoga teacher says, the only moment you are alive is THIS moment. The past is past, and the future hasn’t happened yet. The only moment is NOW. Right now. So stop. Enjoy it. Live in the moment. Appreciate right now. Time is big when you think of it like that!
 
So this week, I give you the gift of time.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a Happy New year! 
 
See you in 2013,
Leigh
www.leighcourt.com
An Early Happy New Year
I hope this finds everyone enjoying a festive and wonderful holiday season. I missed the opportunity to post my greetings with my blogmates because my e-mail has been down due to the fact that I'm switching over to another computer. I love getting a new machine, as mine is slipping away at a rapid clip, but in the transfer process I've missed some communications that I wish I wouldn't have missed. The holiday wishes for this blog was one of them.

So, I'm being proactive, given that my next post will be in 2013--can you believe it?--and wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year's. Where did 2012 go? I mean, it seems like just yesterday that I was doing my last blog post of 2011, and here we are with 2013 looming. Is the earth spinning faster or something? Yeeeikes!

For me, 2012 has been a hectic, crazy, and challenging year, and I'm not sad to see it go. However, even for all the hard stuff I've had to overcome this year, there have been some real bright spots, some real accomplishments or good things that helped offset some of the difficult times. For example...

1. I finally found underwear that fit really, really well. I'd lost some weight, and my undies got baggy. I never thought much about it until I saw the wrinkles showing through my jeans one day. When I moved, it looked like my bottom had a mind of it's own and was doing some kind of hula dance with a snake. To find underwear that actually fits, because of my odd size, is a major accomplishment that makes for a little less worrisome morning when I'm trying to get ready for work.
2. I maintained my weight after losing about almost twenty pounds, although I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not right now. I feared that I'd gain my weight back, so it's good that I didn't, but I also wanted to lose just five more pounds. I actually had a going away party for those stubborn last few pounds of flab, but since food and drink were served, it sort of defeated the purpose.
3. I got to write a little more, but also I've found new homes for some of my older books. They'll be coming out in 2013, in hopefully new and improved versions, along with some brand new stuff. The process to get it done has been a real learning experience, and I've discovered you can teach an old dog new tricks. Woof!
4. This hasn't happened yet, but my DH is 100% supportive of creating sort of a home office for me, which will include my new computer (once I get the blasted thing set up) and a nice workspace in case I want to do a craft of some sort. We're negotiating, and I've had to use my feminine wiles to convince him to give up his computer chair. That and other kinds of "negotiations" like it have really been the true highlights of 2012 for me. :)

What about you? What great things happened for you in 2012? Or, what do you look forward to in 2013? Please do share. It's gonna be a great year!
Christmas Greetings From All of Us!



*****




Merry Christmas from Terry Spear and all her wolves and jaguars and Highlanders and fae and....

                                                                     *****



I hope all of you have a joyous Christmas with your families and friends! 
Love, Vonda

*****



 *****


Happy Holidays from my family to yours! And a little gift for all the ladies :) 
Natasha

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Happy Holidays from Nicole and her naughty elves! ;)

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 Sharing my favorite ornament – may your hearts all grow three sizes during this wonderful Holiday season!  Leigh Court

*****

Wishing you all something sparkling and bright this Christmas!  Best, Jenna
Silken Canvas releases Dec 25th!
It's a little difficult to have a release on Christmas Day. I mean, there's so many other things going on for a lot of people. Who has time to notice what new books are coming out?

My daughter, her hubby, and the new little guy are coming over early on Christmas morning to open gifts and have a some coffee and a little breakfast before they rush home and get ready for hubby's side of the family to descend about 2 o'clock. Son's girlfriend will be over a little later in the morning. Then we'll all spend most of the day over at daughter's house, eating and drinking and exchanging gifts and love and laughter. Who has time to think about a new release?

I've been promoting pre-order for Silken Canvas, hoping readers would like the idea of a gift for themselves appearing on their reader or computer Christmas morning. I love pre-order and am often pleasantly surprised when a book appears on my Kindle that I'd kinda forgotten about.

I also love gift cards. And after tomorrow, I'll be reminding readers of Silken Canvas's release and hope they might want to include it when they are deciding what to purchase with their gift cards.

I think I speak for most writers when I say I don't like having to worry about promoting. To have to keep pushing my books. Reminding readers about them. Hoping word of mouth and the occasional ad and tweet and Facebook update and blog post will peak their interest without turning them off.

But it's a part of the business.

So once again let me remind you that Silken Canvas releases tomorrow, December 25th. The book got 4 stars from RT magazine. "Moore has given readers of erotica something to enjoy. With sizzling characters and an actual plot she has crafted a story that both entertains and thrills."

You can still pre-order today:
Samhain
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

And tomorrow it will be available for purchase!

Here's wishing all our readers and their families a wonderful holiday! May 2013 bring amazing things to you all.

Natasha
Silken Canvas
- coming Dec 25th
www.natashamoore.com
Happy Winter Solstice!
Happy Winter Solstice, Fierce Romancers! Or, I guess you could say, "Happy We're Still Here Day!"

What does today mean for all of us? Well, I like to think of days like today as giving me a fresh, clean start for a new beginning. The first day of Winter brings with it the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere, which translates into us also having the longest night. For the next three days, the sun will stand still at its lowest point in the southern sky. Culturally, socially and astrologically, the Winter Solstice holds quite a bit of significance. But for us in here in the Northern Hemisphere, we mainly hold a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays and gatherings.


Christmas is just around the corner, then it's on to New Year's. I, for one, will be closing a major chapter in my life with the end of the 2012 and starting a brand new one with the beginning of 2013. Onward and upward, I say. My wish is for the brightest and happiest of times in the coming new year, and that is a wish I hold for all of us.

Peace and light, my friends, to us all.

Kristin
www.kristindaniels.com
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Romantical Things
Even though I've yet to begin Christmas shopping, I'm rather in the holiday spirit and enjoying the lights and the music and the general feeling of merriment and hope circulating about. It's been quite a long year, one that's been filled with some ups and downs for our family, and so I'm looking forward to a nice holiday. I'm already in the mode, planning my time off with my DH, and that's got me thinking about romance. Okay, everything gets me to thinking about romance, but lately I've been thinking about the tiniest things that really keep romance alive for me. Are any of these familiar?

1. One of the most romantic things my DH does is something he's not even aware of. We have date nights, and when we get ready to go out, he leaves the bedroom light on for when we return. He's a stickler for turning off lights in every room to save money and energy, but for some reason, he leaves our bedroom light on and it's so romantic to me to have it beckoning to us when we return from a nice evening out. Most of the time we just come home and snuggle up and go to sleep, and that light is a reminder that we've built a home together, a place where we can get cozy after a night of fun. So sweetly romantic!
2. Another romantic thing is that my DH seems to really enjoy Christmas shopping for me. He seems to look forward to it, to getting me something he thinks I'll like or that will surprise me, and that makes me feel cherished. I try to do the same, and even if we don't get each other much, it truly is the thought that counts.
3. We cook together, and that goes double for the holiday season. I love cooking and so does my DH, and when I get a day off, we get creative in the kitchen. It's real teamwork, and there's nothing more romantic than sharing an activity that you love with someone who loves it as much as you do. Plus, we make a pretty good team, and that just adds to the contentment.
4. My DH gets excited when I get time off from work for the holidays and tells me so. I don't get much--maybe a couple of days--but those days are precious, and we get to wake up together. Special moments like these are ones that I cherish even more than the date nights, well, except for the bedroom light being on. :)

So what about you? What little things keep the romance alive in your relationship? Please do share!
It wouldn't be Christmas...
So we are less than a week from Christmas, and I can sadly admit that I'm not done shopping yet. I do have my kids done, which is really all that matters. The rest will have to wait for the weekend.

Tomorrow we are going to walk through McAdenville, which is known as Christmas Town USA. There is a reason for that. It's an entire little town that every house puts up these spectacular lights. The town of McAdenville actually waves the power bill for December so everyone can participate, which I think is pretty awesome. People come from all over to drive or walk through the lights. I've done both, but I prefer to walk. It's a completely difference atmosphere. More magical. The kids love it, heck I love it. It wouldn't be Christmas without McAdenville.

In the last few days, we've put the tree up, had hot chocolate, watched Christmas movies and listened to Christmas music. My favorite part of all that is hot chocolate. Yeah, I know I can get it all year round, but it's not the same. Something about being snuggled up on the couch, sipping on cocoa while the Christmas tree twinkles in the background, yeah...it wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't take a moment to enjoy the tree and a hellava good cup of cocoa. 

I'm plotting what craft I'm going to have the kids make for the pawpaw and nana. I'm starting to stress as I watch the time slip by. I have no clues this year. None. Searched the web for pretty unique awesome ideas..nada. It wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't sprout a few more gray hairs.

Then this weekend, it's off to my mom and dads. Do you know that I am 35 years old and I have always woke up in my childhood home for Christmas morning? I've never missed a year. Not even after I got married, or after I had my own kids. I have always woke up in my parent's home on Christmas morning.

It just wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't.

So what's your "It wouldn't be Christmas?"

Happy Holidays!
Abby
Heaven Sent by Sarah Hoss

Q: Welcome, Sarah! Please tell us about your latest release, Heaven Sent.
A: When forgiveness heals the soul, love heals the heart.

Flight nurse Tenlee Hawkins is used to making quick decisions, but one decision she made the Christmas day her mother died haunts her. Wrestling with the past, she spirals into depression—until the day she finds a man unconscious in her woods and saves his life.

When Sam awakens in the hospital with a concussion and no memory, Tenlee rescues him again. She takes him into her home and her life. But as Sam recovers and remembers who he is, he's torn. A guardian angel isn't supposed to fall in love.

As the promise of true love grows, Tenlee realizes that Sam has helped her much more than she ever helped him. But Sam is filled with guilt knowing he must soon leave. Will it take a Christmas miracle to find the life with Tenlee he’s always wanted?

 Q: Sounds wonderful! What inspired this story?
A:  Since I had to choose a Christmas theme, I knew I wanted to have a miracle happen. This story came strictly from my mind. I just sat and thought forever on what to write about.
Q: What is the story behind the story?
A: My critique partner, Lizzie Walker, found a contest on line. We had to write a novella length story with a Christmas theme.
Q: Why do you write romance?
A:  I love the thought of people loving each other. The struggles and challenges we go through to make it work between each other. Love is powerful and if it’s true love, then nothing can break the bond.
Q: Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A: Being in the woods, it was easier to hide the hero and have the heroine stumble across him. I liked getting her away from the fast pace of her job and giving her a place to relax.
Q: Which of your characters is most like you?
A: The mother because I would also do anything for my kids.
Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I find the names of my characters in many places.  T.V., web, books, or hearing it called out from someone in the mall as they are getting the attention of someone.  Tenlee was the name of a man from one of the Bachelor episodes.
Q: Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A:  I chose the title and it just came to me when I was talking to my husband about the characters.
Q: Where is your favorite place in the world?
A:  Scotland
Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A:  That’s hard! It’s like choosing between your kids. I don’t know if I can.
Q: Which element of story creation is your favorite?
A:  The setting is beautiful and I love Tenlee’s job.
Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A:  Trying to give hints about the hero and not give anything away.
Q: Please tell us about your other books.
A:  I have a novel coming out with Soul Mate Publishing. It is a historical paranormal titled, DREAMS OF THE HIGHLANDER.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
A:  About 6 years ago after reading the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I love her books and the world she created. I knew I wanted to try and do it too.
Q: What is your writing process or method?
A:  I write in the morning when everyone has left for the day. I like to have Twizzlers. They help me think.
Q: Please describe your journey to publication.
A:  It was a four year journey because in the beginning I was doing everything by myself. I didn’t know about critique partners, on line class, and groups like Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. All of these things helped me to become a better writer. They also taught me how to navigate the publishing world.
Q: What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?
A: To accept the fact that I may have done something wrong and it can be fixed. Thank goodness for editors.
Q: Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
A: Persistence. Patience.  Faith. If you want to do this, don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way. It may take time, but it will happen.
Q: What’s next for you?
A:  I am working on more books. The hero in Dreams of the Highlander has two brothers and they are getting their own books.
Q: Would you like to ask readers a question?
A: What is a favorite characteristic in your hero and heroines?
Excerpt:
He glided across the ground purposefully toward
the building. Having been summoned by Malachi, Sam
knew it was important, and when the Archangel of
Heaven called upon his people there was no time to
waste.

The door closed without a sound behind him, and he
let his hand fall to his side. Waiting to be acknowledged,
he stood stoically, staring straight ahead.
He knew this room well from his many visits. To
the left, golden rays of sunlight poured in through a tall
vaulted window. In front of him sat Malachi with his
head bowed, writing steadfastly, lost in thought.
Malachi glanced up and smiled at him. “Thank you
for coming.”

“You’re welcome,” Sam said with a slight nod of
his head.

Malachi stood and strode around his desk. Stopping
half way, he motioned for Sam to join him.
The wall to Sam’s right was bare to the naked eye.
Malachai waved his right hand in a slow arc and a
diaphanous screen appeared. It reminded Sam of a veil a
woman might wear on her wedding day and his hand
ached to reach out and touch it. Sometimes he missed
simple things like that.

“I’ve summoned you here because you are to
receive your next assignment.”

Please visit Sarah online:
Heart of Romance blog www.heart-of-romance.blogspot.com 
The Wild Rose Press www.thewildrosepress.com

Countdown to...

The first countdown I'm keeping track of is for the release of Silken Canvas, my sexy romance about Brendan the erotic artist and his muse, Ashley - only 8 days until its release on December 25th. It's available for pre-order now, which I think is great this busy time of year. You can order it now and have it show up automatically on Christmas morning. How great is that?

This also means it is 8 days until Christmas Day. The tree is up. The cards are signed and addressed and will go in the mail tomorrow. The gifts I have so far are wrapped but... Have you all finished your Christmas shopping? I'd planned to finish this past weekend but unfortunately, I still have a few more presents to buy.

The countdown to early retirement, when I will leave the stressful day job and write full-time, is 3 weeks and 4 days. It's coming up quickly and I have to admit it doesn't seem real yet. It probably won't sink in until a couple weeks after, when it will no longer feel like just a vacation. I can't wait until I can get up in the morning (without the alarm clock!) and write while my eyes and brain are fresh.

Finally, the countdown to my son's wedding is 9 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. It sounds far away right now, but I know the time will go quickly. Hmmm, I wonder how much time I should plan to find the perfect mother-of-the-groom dress?

Here's a quick little excerpt from Silken Canvas, coming Dec 25th from Samhain:

Brendan kept losing his focus as he shot pictures of the snakes slithering around Ashley’s body. He knew he should be seeing the whole picture. The lighting. The composition. The images he wanted to capture. The art he was creating.

Instead, he kept seeing the woman.

It could have had something to do with his tight jeans. He was so hard, it was damned uncomfortable to crouch down and get a good shot of the greedy snake trying for her center. He’d like to have his tongue there right now. He shifted to try to ease the pressure. Didn’t work.

He rose to his feet and zoomed in on her luscious lips. He swallowed, his mouth dry. He should be able to turn off his attraction to Ashley. Hell, he’d been attracted to most of his models. He’d even had sex with some of them despite what he’d told her. But when he had the camera in his hands, it had always been all about the art. The models ceased to be women and became his canvas.

So why did he find himself focusing on the pulse point at the base of Ashley’s pale throat? All he could think about was the way he’d pressed his lips there in the past and felt her pulse leap in response. He’d eagerly licked that tender spot, right there, where the green and gold snake appeared to slide over her body. He zoomed in on her throat, capturing the way the snake collared her.

“Lift your hair up. That’s right, stretch your arms high but keep your elbows back so I can get a clear shot of your throat. Can you feel the snake wrapped around your neck? Is his skin smooth or rough? Does his body ripple as he slithers along your throat? Does he nibble on your ear while he whispers those words of temptation you don’t want to hear?”

“Brendan…”

No, he didn’t want to hear her musical voice, the one he still heard in his sleep. “Shhh. I’ll be done soon. You can drop your arms. Clasp your hands behind your back.” He could tell she was tiring. He’d worked her hard and she’d complained very little. But he had to shake off this unsettling lack of concentration and finish the shoot.



Natasha
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th
www.natashamoore.com

Oh Christmas Tree...Falling Down on Me

Our goal for the Christmas tree is to have it stand up straight, be beautiful and festive. Its goal is to fall over dead.

Our first tree fell down in the middle of the night. The good news is it fell over on the night of Christmas Day, so we'd already had the gift opening on Christmas morning. The bad news is that it fell onto a hardwood floor. We lost many fragile, sentimentally valuable ornaments. The scary news is that it keeled over in the middle of the night, breaking said ornaments, and no one heard a thing. We woke up the next day to find it lying on its side in the midst of brightly colored, shattered glass.

We thought that was an isolated happening. But the next tree that fell over did so before Christmas Day. Luckily, we'd placed this tree on a carpet so the ornament damage was minimal.

The third tree fell over Friday night, minutes after we finished decorating it. We were all sitting there enjoying it. It really is a beautiful tree. When, slowly and majestically, it fell to the ground. We had a brand new tree stand. A big one. It stuck with the tree all right. And all the water that had been in the stand spilled onto the carpet.  Luckily, we keep a big plastic tarp under the tree but it did spill onto the red felt tree skirt that I keep on top of the plastic.

The first comment was from my husband. "At least we're here to deal with it," he said. "That was good luck."

"Nothing says luck like the Christmas tree falling over," said kid #2.
 
So dh pulled the tree up and I held it while hollering for someone to get towels to mop up the water before the red felt stained everything.

Kid #3 retreated to the corner to be upset. Kid #2 raced out of the room toward the stairs. DD #1, bless her, went for towels to wipe up the mess. When #2 returned, I said, "Where did you go?"

"I had to post an update on Facebook," she answered. What, it's not real until it's on Facebook?

Youngest dd had been taking pictures of the tree trimming for her photography class. After the tree was upright again, one of the kids said, "You should have taken a picture of the tree on the floor."

"That's all right," she responded. "I'll get it next time."

 Well, we had a few broken lights and ornaments, but it wasn't too bad. We had a few laughs.

So then dh wired it to the wall (which he'd said he would do earlier and has done before).

It's still a beautiful tree. Merry Christmas to all.
 
 
Also in December, I released the third short story in my Love Charm series.
 
Love Charm for Carlotta: Carlotta doesn't believe in love charms. Especially not when the bad boy hockey player from her past suddenly re-appears in her life. Has the love charm brought him back to her? She doesn't intend to find out. But, in the small town island atmosphere of Martha's Vineyard, it's hard to escape your past. Do people change, or will she be courting heartbreak again if she succumbs once more to her high school sweetheart?
Romance authors’ real-life romances

Ever wonder how some of your favorite romance authors found their own happily-ever-after?  

You can find out in the new book How I Met My Husband. I'm thrilled to be one of two dozen romance authors featured in the *free* Kindle edition, in which authors tell the stories of how we met our spouses, and include excerpts from our latest books.  If you want a fun read, check it out: http://tinyurl.com/8nv3nyc. Authors include Brenda Hiatt, Michele Stegman, Athena Grayson, Nikki Duncan, and lots more!


But I won’t keep you in suspense.  I’ll share my own happily-ever-after account, which I affectionately dub Only An Englishman Would Do… 

When I was 11-years-old, my 8-year-old cousin and I used to sit around my bedroom like typical young girls and daydream about what our future husbands would be like. She vowed to marry a well-known singer when she grew up, but I always insisted that I was going to marry an Englishman. The accent always seemed so dashing and sophisticated to me. 

Fast forward about a dozen years: I was 22, living far from home in New York City and working at a network TV job I loved, when one Saturday night I walked into a bar with two of my girlfriends and met this handsome Englishman! I’m not so shallow as to say he had me at ‘hello,’ but the minute he and I started talking, it was like we’d known each other forever. We married two years later, and I’m happy to say we’re still crazy in love. To this day, my cousin still teases me about my childhood prediction! And no, she did not marry that famous pop star.

What about you?  What was your first idealistic vision of the man you wanted to marry? Did it come true?
 
Jenna
Snow White And Her Seven Lovers -- available at amazon.com
 
I Saw Mommy Kissing James Bond
Last week was the anniversary of the beginning my romance writing career, and so I treated myself to a little decadent pleasure. I downloaded Skyfall by Adele, the theme song from the latest James Bond movie, from ITunes. Actually, I have to admit that it was more than a treat--I HAD to have it because I couldn't get the crazy song out of my head.

I know this has happened to you at some point in your life. You get a song stuck in your head and can't get it out and it drives you a little bonkers until it finally goes away. Usually, it's a jingle that gets caught in my mental machinery, but that wasn't the case this time. Mainly what annoyed me was not the song--I do really like it--but I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get it off my mind. What is it about this song that won't let me let it go?

As a matter of fact, what is it about the movie, Skyfall, that sort of haunts me? It's a James Bond movie, for Pete's sake, an action adventure where the super sexy secret agent is supposed to save the world, get the girl, and do it with witty aplomb that makes Cary Grant look like a fumbling school boy. It wasn't Pan's Labyrinth or Atonement or some other very literary piece of cinema...or was it?

Yeah, I just wrote that. It just might be possible that Skyfall, the latest in the Bond franchise meant to entertain and delight not through story but through babes and bullets, possesses a literary element that is oddly, refreshingly captivating. I've had to think about this. I love the Bond movies but until this one I never saw the symbolism or even the metaphor (watch the movie and then think about the words in the theme and you'll see what I mean). What in the world is going on with me that this movie enthralled me so? That the relationships between Bond and the other characters seemed so meaningful?

I think I found the answer in my past. I grew up the child of a single mother, and being a single mother back then was, just as it is now, terribly difficult. Being single in general wasn't easy, but being a divorcee with a child held its own brand of misery because of gender stereotypes. A doctor once told my mother she wasn't physically sick (she was), she was just depressed because she was single with a child to raise. Men often thought divorcees were easy marks because they had been married before and were desperate to marry again to have someone provide for them and therefore would be more likely to do anything to keep a man. My mother faced this as gracefully as she could, but sometimes she needed an escape, and that escape was the movies, particularly the Bond movies.

We'd go see them together, of course, bonding over Bond, and I think she liked him not because he was single, sexy, and suave, but because he represented what so many single women like my mother wanted in a man--someone who could and would protect them and make them feel like a beautiful woman without being a complete jerk. Plus, there were all those foreign locations and it seemed so metropolitan and exciting. Needless to say, when I think of Bond, I think of my mother. I remember how we faced the world together, just us two, back then, and taking a stand is sort of theme in the movie. A lyric from Adele's song says it all:

"Put your hand in my hand and we'll stand..." 

Besides that, there is a distinctly maternal vibe coursing through the movie as well. I will say no more because I don't want to spoil it, so I recommend you see it for yourself if you're into spy movies. Maybe it's just me because the Bond movies were a part of my growing up years, but perhaps there is something deeper there, something with as much intrigue as the spy life itself. Hmm...

So do you have a movie that you can't stop thinking about? A song that won't leave you alone? Please do share!
Sick Day!
Got a baby home sick today. I was worried it was the flu. I don't know what it's like in your area, but around here the flu is everywhere. We are getting daily message calls from the school reminding parents to keep their kids home until they haven't had a fever for 24 hours. The doctor said today they keep running out of the flu tests, and they've went through so many that the company they order them from is even out. It's bad out there.

Luckily, the girl only has a really bad sinus infection. I'll take that over the flu. But it did mean she got a sick day home. So we've cuddled in bed for most of the morning. It's been really nice. She is feeling better now though. She's bored, lol. So it's back to school tomorrow.

I've had a pretty decent writing week. After a nerve-wracking episode of writer's block, I finally figured out how to fix my issues and the words are starting to flow. I was able to write 2,500 words on Monday and 3,500 yesterday. I was on a roll yesterday and didn't want to stop, but mommy duties called. I have the weekend off, so I'm looking forward to spending two straight days writing. I'm hoping to knock out 10k in those two days. I'm so far behind on this story and I've really got to catch up. Christmas break is right around the corner and then I won't get any writing done. :)

Happy Writing Everyone!
Abby
My Lady Has a Foul Mouth By Eliza Knight + Book Giveaway!

My Lady Has a Foul Mouth

By Eliza Knight

As always in my books, I like to have my heroines defy society somewhat. In my latest release, THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY (Book 3: The Stolen Bride Series), I’ve done just that—given Myra Munro a foul mouth. She curses quite a bit, mostly in private.

Here’s the blurb for the book…

A Highlander tamed…

Laird Daniel Murray seeks adventure, battle and freedom for his countrymen. Putting off his duties as laird—with a promise to his clan he’ll return come spring—Daniel sets off with his men to fight alongside William Wallace and the Bruce. But soon he stumbles across an enchanting lady in need. She tantalizes him with an offer he simply can’t refuse and a desire he attempts to dismiss.

A lady’s passion ignited…

Escaping near death at the treacherous hands of a nearby clan, Lady Myra must find the Bruce and relay the news of an enemy within his own camp. Alone in a world full of danger and the future of her clan at stake, she must trust the handsome, charismatic Highland laird who promises to keep her safe on her journey—and sets her heart to pounding.

Together, Daniel and Myra will risk not only their lives, but their hearts while discovering the true meaning of hope and love in a world fraught with unrest.

Now, a little on curse words… ′Twas impolite for a lady to use foul language, but all the same, Myra has grown up listening in on various conversations as she traversed the hidden passageways of her castle. She learned to like using those words, especially when angry. What are some of the words she uses?

Zounds, ballocks (and a few variations thereof), hell, shite (medieval form of sh*t), damn, and she nearly uses the f-bomb, which despite popular belief, was alive and well back in the day.

Why did I choose for her to have a potty mouth? ′Tis simple, dear readers—a writer puts a little bit of themselves in every character, and this is one flaw I have, which I’ve tried to rectify, but instead I end up saying like like, “No f-ing way.” Or “Shizzle” and “Da----narit!” It’s in my blood. I come from a long line of sailors, and even the non-sailors cuss with certain aplomb. So there you have it, Myra has one of my faults. And I thought it was rather humorous.

Do you have a potty mouth? What’s your favorite? (Please use * in the place of vowels!)

I’d love to give away an ecopy today of THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY to one commenter!

Want a little taste of Myra’s mouth? In this excerpt, Lady Myra is all alone on a treacherous journey to see through, the mission her dying brother gave her.

Byron wouldn’t have tasked her with the impossible. She had to tell herself that again and again. He had to have believed she could make it. He’d taught her well to defend herself—although she lacked for weapons. If he believed in her, then she needed to believe too.
Myra closed her eyes and sent up a prayer to the heavens, to God, to her brother, to see her safely to Eilean Donan.
Promised to speak and think more like a lady—no more curse words.
The horse’s feet clopped on the ground, kicking up tufts of grass where the earth was moist from the water. As much as she wanted to stay near the water, Myra was aware that Coney’s lone footprints would lead an assailant straight toward her. A lone rider was ripe for the picking—a female even more so.
She veered away from the burn and stopped. Satan’s ballocks! A group of haggard looking horsemen came out of the trees to her left their gazes directed at her. Evil grins curled their nasty lips, showing rotten teeth and a few vulgar tongues waggled in her direction. Myra only looked at them for a moment before kicking Coney into a gallop. Not today. She would not be a victim.
Barely a day had gone by since leaving Rose and already she was done for. Nay, she’d not let them take her.
“Go!” she shouted to her horse, leaning low over his mane, and hanging on for dear life. Coney raced along the burn, his hooves digging deep into the moist earth and flinging rocks, grass and mud with them.
The men gave chase, shouting indiscernible threats behind her.
Myra had no idea where she was, or where she should go. There was bound to be a village or hut or something along the length of the burn. Where there was a stream, there was bound to be someone nearby.
“Help!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “Help me!”
There were no answering calls besides the barbs behind her. No one rushed to her aid, not even God struck down those who would see her removed from her task of saving Robert the Bruce. Ballocks! Ballocks! Ballocks! A lot of good her promise of using more ladylike words in exchange for protection did.
There was no one to help her, she was sure of it, and she was probably only gaining the attention of more vagrants who would see her for their supper.
If it came down to it, she would fight these men with every last breath she had. If they were going to take her, at least one of them was going down with her.

Want to read more? THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY is available from the following e-tailers…

 Kindle (Print and Ebook)/ Barnes and Noble / Smashwords (all e-formats)

Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog History Undressed: www.historyundressed.com

Sweet Sadness
When I was working on edits for Silken Canvas, my Dec 25th release from Samhain, my editor pushed me to dig deeper and try harder. I didn’t mind because I know it makes for a better book. But when she said she didn’t quite buy my heroine’s motivation for agreeing to spend time with a man she knew was no good for her, she suggested that maybe Ashley was an emotional masochist. Maybe she agreed to spend the weekend with her ex-lover because she craved the pain she would feel when it was over.

Ok, so I had a little problem with that at first. Silken Canvas does have a BDSM thread running through it, but don’t even people who love the pleasure/pain of nipple clamps and spankings, avoid emotional pain at all costs? I know I do. How can someone want to feel sad? How can someone seek out those feelings?

As I was pondering this, the song "Tomorrow" by Chris Young came up on my iPod. I love this song. I can listen to it over and over. It’s heart breaking. It’s gut wrenching. Every time I listen to it, my stomach clenches and I get that sweet little ache behind my breastbone. And I hit replay.

And then I got it.

Sad songs. Sad movies. Dark moments in my favorite romance novels. Though I would never want it in my real life, I love feeling that anguish in my books, my songs, my movies. I’m sure psychologists can explain it with words like catharsis and vicarious and release. I don’t really need to know the explanation. I just need to know that we can hug that powerful emotion close, and even though it’s not really ours, we can empathize and experience that exquisite sadness.

I finally understood how my heroine would feel and why she might actually crave the pain, and with that understanding, this is how her realization came out on the page:

She turned around to see him standing in the doorway, looking her over with his heated gaze. He was dressed casually today, in a white T-shirt and jeans that were ragged at the hem. His feet were bare, his hair once again a wild mass of curls. Damn, but she wanted to tangle her fingers in the silky strands. She backed away from temptation, but found herself up against the balcony railing. His lips lifted in a slow smile. She shivered.

A delicious ache spread through her as she looked at Brendan.

She’d told herself it was curiosity that had her packing her bag and driving here this morning. She told herself it was the money she’d make. But it wasn’t either of those things. It was the promise of this sweet pain that had her agreeing to spend the weekend with a man who was no good for her. It was the knowledge that it was going to hurt even more when she left.

And she would leave. She was strong enough. Even while she was crazy enough to crave the pain her time with him would bring.


If you’ve never heard Tomorrow by Chris Young, you can experience it here.

And if you want to pre-order Silken Canvas, you can do it here.

Natasha
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th
www.natashamoore.com

I Have a Release Date!
It's officially official! The Awakening: Aidan will release on January 7th, 2013 with Entangled Publishing's Covet line. It's going to be a long month wait, lol.

I'm working on the third book of the series right now, which I'll admit is slow going. I mean sloooow. I'm going to have to pick up the pace, but I've been dealing with some writers block.

Some? Ha. I wish.

Let me retract that one. A LOT of writers block. I've dug out my hand-dandy notebook and pen and have started brainstorming, trying to get around the problem I've created.

I think I'm trying to make it too big. But for the life of me I can't seem to simplify it. When I try another issue pops up that makes it complicated again. I guess somewhere in my jotting I'll finally find the solution to my problems. But I hate when this happens. It stresses me out.

I know. It's part of being a writer. But it still sucks :)

Anyway, keep a look out! I'll hopefully be sharing a blurb and cover soon!!

Abby


Stirling Castle, Scotland, Part 4: Prince's Tower, Elphinstone Tower & The Battle of Stirling Bridge

Today we continue our tour of Stirling Castle. If you missed my previous posts, you can see them by clicking on the links: Part 1, the front, Part 2, The Palace and Stirling Heads, Part 3, Inside the Palace.

Stirling Castle was one of the most important castles in Scotland’s history for centuries because of its location and high position, overlooking the whole of the surrounding area. Edinburgh is to the south and the Highlands are to the north. Stirling overlooks the River Forth and therefore controlled who was allowed to cross it. Now, there are several routes north through Scotland. Hundreds of years ago, however, travel was much more challenging. Wide rivers were difficult to cross and bridges were few. Scotland also has many lochs and mountains that would’ve stood in the way of travelers back when there were very few roads.

Stirling’s strategic location was why so many monarchs lived here and made improvements to the castle over the centuries.




Prince's Tower attached to the Palace and Prince's Walk above the Queen Anne Garden.


The front portion of the curtain wall, built around 1500, would’ve reached from Prince’s Tower to Elphinstone Tower. Prince’s Tower is still almost as tall as it was when originally constructed as part of King James IV’s Forework, but Elphinstone Tower is now only a stub. James V had Prince’s Tower incorporated into the design of the Palace.


The fireplace inside the Prince's Tower
 Prince’s Tower, Cradle of the crown. In this room a sign is posted which says, “This tower, built as part of the Forework in about 1500, was traditionally the nursery of Scotland’s monarchs. James VI was taught here by the celebrated Protestant scholar George Buchanan. When James was an infant his mother Mary Queen of Scots complained that Stirling Castle was ‘incommodious, because, the situation being damp and cold, he was in danger of catching rheumatism.’ Scotland suffered repeated spells of uncertainty as seven successive monarchs, from James I onwards, started their reigns as children. Many were raised within the safety of Stirling Castle while noblemen jostled for power.”

Looking out the window in Prince’s Tower onto the Prince’s Walk and Queen Anne Garden. Tree ring dating of the timbers in the Prince's Tower confirmed the early 1500s construction. The tower was refurbished in 1593 by James VI in preparation for the birth of his first son, Prince Henry.




“Scratched into a window recess in the Prince’s Tower is what seems to be royal graffiti. James VI had the tower refitted for his son Henry, who may have scrawled: ‘God made Man and [Wom]an God made Man James 6’.

View from Prince's Walk. These massive stone vaults known as casemates were built to house troops in the event of a siege. The Castle Exhibition is housed here now. It is a museum with tons of information about how the castle was changed and improved by the various monarchs. Also the view to the south is impressive.


Elphinstone Tower: (Onsite information.) “This was home to the constable, who looked after the castle when the royal family was elsewhere. His kitchen was probably in the basement, where you can see volcanic dolerite jutting through the floor. The tower was shortened when converted into an artillery battery in 1689.”


Originally, this tower was just as tall as the Prince's Tower shown at the top, but now only the cellars remain. I must admit is it a slightly creepy place but I love visiting and exploring incredible old rooms.


Elphinstone Tower is said to be haunted and those who work at the castle prefer to avoid it. Strange events have been reported there, maybe because of the tragic history of the castle and the tower. Some believe the tower may have been used to imprison and torture people.


When we emerged from the cellars of the tower, this is the magnificent view we had.  It looks out over the area where The Battle of Stirling Bridge took place in 1297.
Click on the above photo to enlarge. 

When Alexander III, King of Scotland, died in 1286, this ended the peace between Scotland and England. Alexnder’s young granddaughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway, was his obvious successor but she died in 1290 leaving no heir or successor. This left the throne open and many wanted to claim it. Edward I of England was supposed to sit in and decide who would be the best king for Scotland. He stayed at Stirling Castle in 1291, and decided John Balliol, Lord of Galloway, would be the best king for Scotland. Of course, he was someone Edward could easily control. Balliol was made king the next year. But in 1295, his followers signed a treaty with France against England. This infuriated Edward I and the Wars of Independence began, lasting for decades. In 1296, Edward attacked, removed John Balliol from power and took Stirling Castle. This was when Edward I earned the nickname ‘Hammer of the Scots.’


Another view from the Grand Battery.
But the Scots were determined to regain Stirling since it was the seat of power and this led to the Battle of Stirling Bridge the next year.  The Earl of Surrey was leading a large English force camped beneath Stirling Castle, still in English hands at that point. They soon discovered a large force of Scots led by William Wallace and Andrew Murray waiting on the other side of the river, at Abbey Craig (the rock cliff you can see in the photo next to the Wallace Monument.) When the English army crossed the bridge to engage them in battle, the Scots attacked. The English cavalry caught on the bridge were slain. Those who had already crossed the bridge were also trapped in a loop of the River Forth. Surrey abandoned the trapped soldiers and ordered that the timber bridge be destroyed. The Scots were victorious in this battle. But many more years of battles and sieges were to come, Stirling Castle switching hands multiple times.

The Wallace Monument. It sits on Abbey Craig, the forested cliff area where the Scots rushed down and attacked the English on the bridge.

Photo by Brenda B Taylor. Click to enlarge the photo.
Above is the view from the Wallace Monument toward Stirling Castle. A huge thanks to Brenda for sending it to me! The beige building is the great hall, which I'll talk about next time. If you look to the left of it, you will see the Grand Battery, along the crenelated wall, where I was standing when I took these photos.


Click on the above photo to enlarge it so you can read it.

Click on the above photo to enlarge it.

Cannons on the Grand Battery poised to blast anyone who dares attack.

Click on the above photo to enlarge it.

Stirling Old Bridge

Stirling Old Bridge was constructed around the year 1500. And it is downstream from where the earlier timber bridge was. (The one destroyed during the Battle of Stirling Bridge.) Evidence of that bridge was found in 1955 when a drought caused the river’s water level to drop. The stone piers could easily be seen at that point, but generally aren’t visible. This current bridge sits at what was the lowest bridging point over the River Forth for almost four centuries. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, the Southernmost arch was blown up by General Blackney to prevent the Highlanders from crossing. Another bridge, called Stirling New Bridge, was opened in 1833, just downstream. This one was designed by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Stirling Castle and the area. I'm still not finished! I have more to show you next time. :)

Thanks!!
Vonda
Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn't who everyone thinks he is. He's Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time?

Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother's order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety.

Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man's bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.
---
Excerpt:

Scotland, November 1618

Dirk MacKay urged his horse into a gallop along the narrow, muddy road that led from Draughon Castle toward Perth. Praying he wouldn't be too late to see his father alive one last time, he squinted against the cool, misty rain stinging his eyes.
The meager light of dawn hidden behind thick, leaden clouds provided little illumination. Greenish-brown hills dotted with grazing sheep and rolling beige grain fields sped by on either side of the road. Tulloch carried him closer to the thatched-roof stone crofters' cottages situated before a small wood of bare-limbed trees. A faint white mist hung over the massive River Tay, hidden amongst the bushes in the distance.
Dirk hoped he'd slipped away before his two friends knew what he was about. They would insist on going with him and he couldn't allow them to make such a sacrifice.
Lachlan was recently married and a newly titled earl and chief. He would be daft to accompany Dirk on a dangerous trek through the snowy Highlands to the edge of the earth, leaving his wife and clan to fend for themselves.
Although Robert "Rebbie" MacInnis, Earl of Rebbinglen, was a Highlander with naught to tie him down, Dirk wouldn't put his life in danger, either.
It wasn't simply the severe cold weather of the north that made Dirk worry over his friends' safety. A murderer lurked amongst his clansmen… a murderer who wanted Dirk dead, and wouldn't bat an eye at killing one of his friends, as well. He shook his head. Nay, he'd done the right thing by not asking Lachlan or Rebbie to risk their lives by traveling with him to Durness.
The three of them had been near inseparable for the past few years, but Dirk needed to handle this on his own. He'd been living in limbo for twelve years, and now it was time to return to his real life… to follow his destiny.
Behind him, quick, rhythmic hoof-beats pounded the road and spattered through puddles. A sharp whistle pierced the chill, wet air. Dirk glanced back to find a dark-haired, black-cloaked man following him.
Rebbie.
"Damnation." How had he known? Dirk slowed his horse, then halted and turned to face his approaching friend. Tulloch, snorting at the interruption to his gleeful run, danced about beneath him. "Whoa, lad," Dirk said, trying to calm the horse.
When Rebbie drew up and stopped beside him, Dirk asked, "Where are you going?"
"A better question is where are you going? You left without a word. Luckily, I heard the floorboards creaking as you slipped past my chamber this morn. Does it have aught to do with that missive you received last evening?"
"I'm in no need of help," Dirk said, skirting the disconcerting question.
Rebbie's black brows lowered. "Even if you did need help, you're likely too proud to ask for it. What's happened to cause you to slip away..."
My Brave Highlander,  Vonda Sinclair
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