Happy New Year...

from all of us at Fierce Romance!



So long 2013 - Hello 2014
This is the time of year when we tend to look back on the past 12 months and see what we've accomplished, what we wish we had, and how we want to carry on in the new year.

2013 was a year of big change for me. I left the day job to write full time. And as well as contracting two stories to Samhain and one to Ellora's Cave, I also took a big step into indie publishing with a contemporary royalty romance, Her Royal Masquerade.

And watched the little guy grow from an infant into a toddler with a personality and a mind of his own.

Looking ahead to 2014, I have book #2 in my Her Royal Romance series - Her Royal Bodyguard - ready to go and am planning on writing several more in the series this year. I have two releases from Samhain scheduled. Playing for Real will be released Feb 4th and is availabe for pre-order now. The Cottage Next Door will be out in September. Only Playing for Real was even imagined when 2013 started, so I can't wait to see what 2014 brings.

Here's hoping 2013 was a great year for you and that 2014 brings even more wonderful things for you. And I'll finish off this post with a few pics of the little guy because I just can't resist :)



Happy New Year!
Natasha
www.natashamoore.com

Happy New Year!!!
Happy New Year a little early!




Between a whole lot of teddy bear orders, 5 are ready to ship to Australia, and another 2 as soon as I receive payment, they are a lot of fun, and a lot of work, I'm working on book deadlines.
 Best Friends Purple Sweater Bear

But to me, they're like writing. Each has her/his own personality! She looks like she needs a hug.

In the past, I've looked at the future as kind of like a blank slate. But this year and last, I've scheduled WAY too many things. So I'm going to a Chicago writers conference (1st time), Authors After Dark, Romantic Times (1st time ever, and I'm going to be helping to host a pirate wench party!), RWA Nationals, and two trips for research, Scotland, and Minnesota to a wolf park and whatever else my fan and friend can get me involved in up there. So really looking forward to it. And have to see family.

But I have deadlines too! And somehow I've got to accomplish those also. So my New Year's goal is to not schedule so much for 2015. LOL :)

My fans sent me some cool gifts too! My wolves, to keep me on track.

 

Supernatural to remind me to take some time out for me.



And a doll to tell all my frustrations to, especially when it comes to edits!



I am ready for it! Only it means lots of deadlines, trips, and fun! :)

What about you?

Terry
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male!"
www.terryspear.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 fun 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. So that week can be very valuable from that perspective.

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 2014,

Leigh
www.leighcourt.com
A Sense of Duty

http://www.amazon.com/Sense-Duty-Arleigh-Bish-ebook/dp/B00HGX296C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1388069354&sr=1-1

I hope you all have had a wonderful week so far, including a fantastic Christmas if you celebrate it. I, personally, can't believe that we are almost to the end of 2013--how did that happen? Time flies so quickly these days!

This will be my last post of 2013 as next week rings in the new year, so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful and wonderful 2014.

I'm excited that the new year will bring more re-releases of my books and even a new book or two. Right now, my latest release, a romance that just came out on December 21st, is A Sense of Duty, written under another pen name of mine, Arleigh Bish. It has just a bit of spice to it as well as some comedy. It was first released as You're All I Want for Christmas, but my current publisher decided to change the name back to the original, and I'm glad. It speaks to a quality that both main characters share, one that draws them together, as the description below shows:

Struggling single mom Heidi Gentry and ex-soldier Rick Goodall are two people who always try to do the right thing, even at their own expense. When Wendy, Heidi’s best friend since high school, asks her to start writing her older brother Rick while he serves in Afghanistan, Heidi is stunned to find herself falling for a man she barely remembers, especially one who’s married. She immediately decides she is still on the rebound from her divorce and cuts off communication. However, Christmas often brings surprises, and a chance encounter at the local mall convinces Rick, back from Afghanistan and divorced, he has to find out where he stands with the woman who captured his heart with her very first e-mail. With his sister's help, they devise a wacky plan to help everyone get what they want for Christmas this year, even if he has to go undercover to do it.

Happy New Year to everyone here at Fierce Romance and to all our readers. I hope 2014 brings dreams that come true and health and happiness for all. Happy, happy reading!




Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! Hope you are enjoying your holiday festivities! A couple of weeks ago, I went to Biltmore House with a friend. I wanted to share some of the pics with you. We had a great lunch at the Stable Cafe, then shopped and took a tour of the house interior to see all the beautiful Christmas trees and decorations. Unfortunately no photos are allowed inside. But later we went to the conservatory.


Gargoyles on the roof. Not Christmas-y but interesting! LOL

I'm laughing at something LOL

Closeup of the exterior of the staircase.


The conservatory is spruced up with lots of poinsettias.

Amaryllis 





Looking up at the roof of the conservatory.




Hope you enjoyed these!!

I have an announcement. My Fierce Highlander is on sale for .99 for the holidays!


Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans--her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her--give up her son or the man she loves.

On sale at Amazon.

Have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!!!
Merry Christmas!!
Vonda


Happy Holiday from Natasha
Christmas Eve is tomorrow. All the snow that had piled up in the last month is completely gone, rain and temps in the high 50s took care of that. But even if we don't have a white Christmas, we'll have friends and family, good food and plenty of drink, music and gifts and lots of laughter. Lots of love.



So whether you celebrate Christmas or not, my wish for you is the same. Have a wonderful week full of love and good cheer. Hug those you care about and give them a gift, even if it's just a bright smile.

Love,
Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
More Bear Orders!

Mohair Bears–15″





Beige thick Mohair from England, tapestry paws, fully jointed.


$49 + $8 shipping


Photo: Working on bear orders and puppy sitting. What a wonderful way to spend the day. :)  This is new born twin baby's Isla... :)

Goldie Bear for a special order.


Photo: Twin baby brother, Thomas! :)


Tanner bear for a special order. These are for Australian twins--a boy and girl.
 

Rogue for new baby.


Luke for another new boy baby.

They must be wolf shifters. More boys born than girls!

Merry Christmas!

From Santa and Terry!
Cameo's Guide to Gift Buying-NOT


I wish that I could say I love the holidays, but that would only be semi-truthful. I definitely love the idea of the holidays—the decorations, family get-togethers, the snowy evenings filled with hot cocoa and romps in the snow, etc.—as long as someone else is doing the decorating, the preparation, and the romping. One thing I do love to do is cook treats, like cookies and other nifty stuff, but I’ve been put on a short leash on that one because of buzzkills who watch their weight and think one little cookie…or maybe two or three…a day…will ruin their diet plan. Pshaw!

I also like to buy gifts for family, friends, and those in need. I discovered something this year, though, that is quite unsettling: I’m incredibly bad at buying gifts for our grandkids. Like any good grandma, however, I’m choosing not to take the blame for this. Instead, I blame my son. It’s all his fault, and here’s why:

1.      He is terrible about giving me ideas for what our grandkids like. Living far away from them means we don’t get to see them as often as we want, and even though we keep up on the major life changes—like from Fischer Price to full throttle Mattel—the minor adjustments in their tastes in toys and such, for example when they move from Mickey Mouse to Miley Cyrus, often slip past us with nary a whimper. And when we directly ask our son what to get so we won’t look like out-of-it slacker grandparents or thoughtless scrooges, he just says things like, “Oh, you know. Boy stuff.” Which leads me to my next reason for blaming our son…
2.      He had boys. They are dear and sweet and wonderful and I wouldn’t trade them for the world or even a Klondike Bar, but because of my son’s apparent inability to pass along one lousy X chromosome once in a while, they are of the gender for whom my shopping intuition does not apply, and due to my husband's current workload, I'm the one doing the shopping. My little dears are like Kryptonite to my grandma shopping superpowers. Even if I do find that one item that my son managed to verbalize to me, I can’t find it in the right age range or color or it won’t be the right character. I can search for hours in the superhero section until I’m dazed and drooling and never find one damn G. I. Joe. However, I can turn around and face the other aisle—the GIRL aisle—and I become the Martha Stewart of girl toys. I know just what fashion doll to get for every young cousin or the best baby doll for every friend’s kid. I can tell you which dollhouse to buy for a 40-year-old empty-nester. I can point you to the right makeup kit for your thirteen year old or the least expensive but most appealing kiddie kitchenette for that budding Betty Crocker. But stick me in the aisle with model airplanes and super blaster water guns, and I’m at a loss.
3.      You might wonder how I could have raised a boy and yet still can’t buy toys for boys. Well, that’s my son’s fault, too. He was an unusual lad, one that skipped from splashing in mud puddles to building bridges over them or little sailboats to sail across them before the diaper came off. Yep, he’s an engineer, and when he was very young, my husband and I divided up the toy shopping thusly: He shopped for the boys and I shopped for the girls. It was simple and fast and I always figured that I’d have time to eventually buy something for my little da Vinci before he moved from Marvel comics to the marvels of constructing the coolest treehouse in Ithaca. I didn’t. When most of our neighbors’ kids were still struggling with trying to figure out where their poop came from, my little angel was disassembling his potty chair to see where the poop went after it plopped out. An amazing boy, but such a disappointment in terms of helping me train for grandkid gift buying.

So here I am, a week before Christmas, trying to find the right thing so on Christmas morning my grandsons won’t open their gifts and bleat a collective “Eeeewww!” so loud I’ll be able to hear it all the way across the country. I’m tempted to do the Revenge of the Grandparent thing, where we buy the kids a drum set or a play electric guitar. Or even worse, one of those recorders every kid learns to play—if you can call it that—in 5th grade. Maybe I’ll do the chemistry set thing, so that my dear son can see the error of his ways brightly lit as his little scientist in the making whips up something slightly flammable but oh so colorful. Then there’s the Slime and Playdoh options, also known as “Your Carpet Will Never, Ever Be the Same” options.

You know, I think I’m inspired. I need to post this so I can go shopping. I saw a karaoke machine at Target with enough Disney tunes on it to make my point to my son loud and clear, or put him in a coma from all the buzzy tunes, and I think it’s on sale. Yes, that, and maybe a set of bongos, will make nice presents this year.

What about you? Experiencing any shopping woes? Highs? Got any advice? Please do share, and in the meantime, may you enjoy a very happy holiday season filled with peace, joy, and love. :)
Balnakeil Bay, Scotland
Balnakeil Bay. Click photo to enlarge. Those are black rocks in the foreground.
Balnakeil Bay in Durness, Scotland isn't too far from SangoBay, which I did a post about last week. The first time I visited Balnakeil Bay was two years ago. We'd just driven all day from Loch Ness north to Durness (stopping to visit one castle along the way).


After checking into the B&B we drove over to Balnakeil Bay at sunset. It was a cold, windy day in May, but the sunset was so beautiful. You will see it here on my cover, too, in the background.




Old Watermill near the beach

Balnakeil House and Balnakeil Church ruin
I love the reflections in the wet sand and the tempestuous sky.

A nearby resident
A day or two later we visited again. Still cold, cloudy and windy. It felt like January in the States. LOL We bundled up and walked on the beach, and had it mostly to ourselves. While we were out there, a bride, groom and photographer showed up. They took photos at Balnakeil Church and on the beach. We could easily tell they were Scots, because they seemed perfectly fine and warm, him in a kilt and her in a sleeveless wedding gown. I would have been an icicle if I'd dressed like that.

Bride and groom with photographers. Balnakeil Church in the background.




To get to Balnakeil Bay, take the single track road from the town of Durness. It's a little over a mile.
Balnakeil House above a field of yellow flowers

Balnakeil Beach in July.
 Our next visit to Balnakeil Bay was this past July. It was a very different day. So sunny and warm. We loved walking on the beach. No bundling up required. A couple of people were swimming. The above photo shows the freshwater stream that runs across the beach into the sea. The most distant cliff is Faraid Head.


One of the reasons I wanted to check out Balnakeil Bay was that I have several scenes set here in my latest book, My Notorious Highlander. Most of My Brave Highlander is set here also, but in winter.

Massive sand dunes behind the beach
 It's an interesting place. The sand blows up from the beach and creates huge sand dunes behind it, most of them covered with marram grass. These dunes lead out toward Faraid Head, a headland or small peninsula with high sea cliffs. I have an important scene set out there, too.


 Balnakeil Bay features prominently in my last three books because I've situated the MacKay clan's castle there, where Balnakeil House sits now. Centuries ago, the palace of the Bishop of Caithness stood on the site and the MacKays used it during the 1600s. (I named mine Castle Dunnakeil.) Lady Barbara MacKay lived here in the mid-1600s. Later the bishop's palace was torn down and on its foundation they built Balnakeil House between 1720 and 1744. This house has a very gothic look, siting forlornly above the windswept beach with the nearby cliffs and the ruin of Balnakeil Church nearby. I'll do a future post about Balnakeil Church.


 The beach is wide and a white to sandy blond color.

A trail between the dunes
 It is a haunting and beautiful place that stays with me. Maybe because I have been there so many times in my mind with my characters, especially with Torrin and Jessie in My Notorious Highlander.


Thank you for visiting Balnakeil Bay with me!

I received a fantastic review from My Book Addiction Reviews!
"If you enjoy fast paced, action packed Highland adventure than “My Notorious Highlander” is definitely the read for you. The characters are engaging, charismatic, and fierce. The storyline is intriguing, dangerous and will have you turning pages faster than you can say Highlander.... A deliciously sexy story of love,family, revenge, and forgiveness. For action, thrills, and passion pick up “My Notorious Highlander”.  I loved it! Well done, indeed!" AprilR RATING: 4.5  HEAT RATING: HOT

Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is? 

The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him. 

Excerpt: Here is a scene between Torrin and Jessie which takes place on Balnakeil Beach


"I could go back and get my bow and a few arrows, then we could walk along the beach that way." He pointed toward the right. "And I could teach you archery. If I don't behave myself, you can shoot me or use one of your hidden blades on me."
She sent a confused frown his way. "Why are you so determined to teach me how to shoot a bow?"
He shrugged. "I think you would be good at it. You're tall; you have long arms. You remind me of a warrior princess."
She gave him a narrow-eyed look as if he were daft. "Living in a make-believe world, are we, MacLeod?"
He smirked. When it came to her, he likely did, but he couldn't stop himself. "Well, you're always threatening me with those hidden knives you carry on your person at all times. I would truly love to see if you ken how to use them like a warrior."
Lifting an auburn brow, she sent him a challenging look. "You don't believe I can use them?"
"I have no inkling. I've never seen you in action. By the time I came upon you and MacBain, you were already trussed up like a—" He clamped his lips closed.
"Like a what? A boar?"
"Nay, like a tall, elegant stag."
She snorted and leapt up. "Come. I'll show you. We'll go to the end of the beach, near the cliffs where your guards upon the ramparts cannot help you."
He laughed. "Saints! You must indeed be deadly."
"I've hurt a few men but never killed anyone."
"'Tis a great comfort to me," he said in a dry tone and stood, smiling at her cocky attitude. "I'm up for the challenge, m'lady. But surely we aren't going to fight with sharpened blades. I don't wish to hurt you either."
She chuckled and headed along the beach.
Using long, quick strides, he caught up with her. "Are you certain you don't wish me to go back for the bow and arrows?"
"Thinking you'll need an extra weapon to defeat me?" she asked.
"Ha. Not likely."
She gave a confident smile, and he was glad he'd been able to turn her mood from gloomy to merry. He hoped this would be only a wrestling match, where she ended up pinning him to the ground—he'd let her do that. Aye, indeed. His body went on high alert, for he'd long imagined what her slight weight might feel like upon him. Like a dream come true.
"We'll have to use sticks instead of real knives," he said, trying to focus on the issue at hand and not his growing arousal.
"You fear me?"
"Aye, indeed," he said in a wry tone.
She laughed.
He'd love to know where on her body she had the rest of those hidden knives secured. He wanted to take them off her naked body, one by one. How delicious that would be.
"I often see red deer coming from that direction." She pointed toward the grassy sand dunes to their right.
Unexpectedly, Torrin tripped over something, and someone shoved him from the back at the same time. His face plowed into the sand. "What the hell?" The words blasted from his mouth. Spitting out the salty sand, he quickly rolled to his back and grabbed the dirk from the scabbard on his belt. He froze when he didn't see a band of attacking outlaws. Only Jessie stood above him, grinning like a banshee. Of course, he'd known she was the only one near, but he couldn't believe she'd gotten the best of him like that. Damned if she wasn't strong. His warrior skills were slipping, or mayhap he'd simply been distracted with his fantasies of stripping her naked.
"You tripped me!" he accused.
"You mean, I tricked you." Her smug smile was clear, even with the blinding sunlight behind her.
He narrowed his eyes. "Proud of yourself, are you?"
She shrugged, and he pushed to his feet. He'd have to be more careful around her. She was more wily than he'd anticipated. He glanced back at the castle, hoping Iain nor any of his men had witnessed that. He'd never live it down.
"You don't fight fair," he muttered.
"Most Highlanders don't. We're too canny. Fighting fair will get you killed, you ken?"
He laughed, then faced her with his arms down at his sides. "Are you ready to try it again, then, lady warrior?"
"Nay. I prefer surprise attacks." She backed away from him, moving further along the beach.
He knew what he had to do and 'twas naught more than she'd asked for, knocking him to the ground like that. He ran toward her, his body hunched low.
She screamed and bolted like a deer, flying over the sand. He quickened his pace, caught up to her and grabbed her. With one arm wrapped around her waist, he lifted her off her feet.
Kicking and elbowing, she fought him. He grasped her right hand so she wouldn't grab one of those knives. He hoped she wouldn't stab him, given the opportunity, but he didn't know for certain. She was a hellion… and he loved that about her.
She hooked her heel behind his knee. Losing his balance, he dropped to the sand, taking most of the impact with his shoulder and hip, but he didn't let go. Having captured both her wrists in one hand, he pinned her to the ground, half on her side and half on her stomach.
"Aha," he said against her ear. "Now we're even."
"Don't be so sure, MacLeod," she said through clenched teeth.
Something slammed painfully into his arse. Glancing around, he saw she'd kicked him hard with her bare heel.
He grabbed her ankle and pinned it close to him with his leg, then he tickled her foot with his free hand. She shrieked and squirmed about. With a sudden hard shove backward with her whole body, she flipped him onto his back. He tightened his grip on her wrists.
"Bastard!" she growled like a she-wolf and tried to untangle herself from him.
He laughed but feared she might get the best of him if he gave in to the amusement. He rolled her beneath him again.
She giggled but tried to scream at the same time. Squirming, she twisted and contorted her body, trying to wrest herself free. All she accomplished was turning to face him a bit more.
Her face was flushed pink, her eyes a glaring flash of blue, while her lips were scrunched with determination.
Damnation, how he wanted to kiss her. But she might break his nose if he did. He chuckled, amazed at how the thought of a violent woman aroused him. He had always thought he wanted a sweet, biddable wife. Now he knew he wanted one who would knock him to the ground unexpectedly.
"Admit defeat, warrior woman."
"Never!" One of her sharp elbows speared him in the stomach.
My Notorious Highlander Vonda Sinclair


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