Fur Babies

Gosh, guys. Sorry about the late post today. Drama has been going on in the Bishop house today in the form of a dead car. Doesn’t that suck? You’re walking out to your car, ready to go to the bank, turn the key and…nothing. Somewhere between 8 pm when I got home from work and noon the next day, my starter decided it was going to give me the big ole finger. Thanks, starter. You made my week.

Can we talk cats?

I love mine. I do. I have two precious kittens that adore me. Out of everyone that lives in this house, those cats would live on my lap if I would let them. No one else’s. What drives me crazy is they want to live on my lap. LOL.

I spend a majority of my time, just picking them up and dropping them off the couch. I love them, cuddle them, but come on! Every second I’m in this house?

I have had cats in the past, but oh my God these two beat anything I’ve ever seen with their need for human attention. I call them the attention whores. LOL.

Do any of you have a furry baby that demands your undivided attention?


Guest: Dale Mayer and the Vampire in Denial Book Giveaway

Please welcome Dale Mayer, our special guest for today!

Dale Mayer is a prolific multi-published writer. She's best known for Tuesday's Child, her romantic suspense novel that was one of the final four in the Kensington Brava/Romantic Times contest this last year. Besides her romantic suspense/thrillers, Dale also writes paranormal romance and crossover young adult books in several different genres.  To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series in ebook format.

Q: Welcome Dale! Please tell us about your YA book, Vampire in Denial. And do you have a review you could share with us?

A: Vampire in Denial: Blood doesn't just make her who she is...it also makes her what she is.

Like being a sixteen-year-old vampire isn't hard enough, Tessa's throwback human genes make her an outcast among her relatives. But try as she might, she can't get a handle on the vampire lifestyle and all the...blood.

Turning her back on the vamp world, she embraces the human teenage lifestyle—high school, peer pressure and finding a boyfriend. Jared manages to stir something in her blood. He's smart and fun and oh, so cute. But Tessa's dream of a having the perfect boyfriend turns into a nightmare when vampires attack the movie theatre and kidnap her date.

Once again, Tessa finds herself torn between the human world and the vampire one. Will blood own out? Can she make peace with who she is as well as what?

This book isn't my latest release but it's one of the books of my heart.  It's done very well in terms of reviews.

Here are a couple of links to reviews: 

Q: What inspired this story?
A: Watching my 13 year old daughter grow up in today's world, trying to fit in and feeling like that was a lost cause.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing Young Adult?
A: Writing YAs are just plain fun for me.  I write in many genres for adults and children.  However my adult books are very convoluted plots with crazy twists all throughout.  So writing YA is a refreshing change.  The issues facing teenage characters are not so different than what adults face, but they problem solve differently.  I really enjoy writing for that age group.

Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: Tessa is my favorite character in this book, followed by Cody.  Tessa is a gawky 16 year old on a journey to finding who she is.  She reminds me of my daughter and of course there are little bits of me in there.

Q: Which element of this story is your favorite?
A: I love the skills that Tessa finds, some accidentally, some through learning to embrace her heritage.  She truly finds out what she can and she can't do in this book.

Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: The hardest thing about this story was the ending.  I could NOT do anything but leave the cliffhanger ending on this book.  I tried to change it several times, but my muse refused.  It had to stay as is.

Q: What is your writing process or method?
A: I'm a diehard pantser.  An idea twigs, I sit down to a blank page and I start typing.  Usually after I've done one or two scenes I have an idea for what comes next.  After about 30 pages I can see the next couple of turning points.  I don't plot and I don't outline. The endings ALWAYS surprise me.
Very interesting! Thanks for joining us today, Dale!
Everyone, please remember to leave a comment to be entered to win Dale's book. Also leave an email address or a way to contact you. Thanks!


Tessa hunkered down low to the ground, hidden by the long line of poplars edging the property as Cody went in for a closer look. She’d protested being left behind until Cody pulled the mom card on her. That he’d never be able to explain to her mom why he’d let her accompany him. She’d couldn't argue that.
The longer she’d studied the house, the stronger her sense of knowing grew. Jared was here. Somewhere on the property. Looking around, she realized the easy answer was to check out the sheds and outbuilding first.
Silently, she slipped inside the first outbuilding. Empty. She circled it anyway and looked for stairs, hidden doors, or rooms. Then she moved onto the next building. This one appeared to be a storage unit. Boxes and containers filled every square inch or so it appeared. She studied the level of dust and the jammed boxes. Everything appeared deserted and forgotten for decades. Empty. She couldn’t sense anything bigger than a mouse.
Back out in the night, the dogs still slept and Cody had yet to return. What if he couldn’t?
No, Cody had some serious skills, at least according to David he did. It would take a lot for someone to get the drop on him.
He just didn’t have much class. Turning around, Tessa watched Cody land in front of her. "There’s no sign of anything unusual going on."
"No, of course not. Why would there be? It’s not like they’re going to advertise that they've kidnapped humans." She studied the huge stone mansion. "The captives are most likely to be downstairs."
"You’re not going into the house. If you’re determined to take this further, we go back to our parents and let them take it to the council. They will determine the best course of action."
Tessa stared at him in disbelief. Everything about the night had taken on a surreal appearance. She was here, where Jared was being held, with someone who could actually help her and he wanted to go for their parents. No knight riding to the rescue here.
Then he'd been raised by the old belief that vampires don't go against vampires – without just cause. She didn’t think she could come up with enough evidence to prove her case.
"We have to at least see if they are here."
"No. No way." He pulled away and turned prepared to leave.
"No Tessa." He shook his head, his vampire eyes glowing with terrible heat. "That’s enough. This isn’t a kid’s game. This is vampire business."
"And who’s going to believe me? No one. I’m not like you. My word doesn’t mean anything to the others. If you don’t see that Jared’s been taken and kept as a captive yourself, you won’t be able to convince them either."
He shook his head.
Fine. She'd go in alone. Turning away, she headed to the back of the house. "Go back home. I don’t need you."
"What the…" He raced behind her. "Tessa stop. You can’t go inside there. You’re not allowed."
"And they’re allowed to take humans?" She snorted. "I don’t think so." The moon slid out from behind the clouds highlighting the lower level of the house. Off to the left, a set of stairs cut down to a narrow wooden door. Probably the cellar. Perfect. She picked up the pace reaching for the knob in seconds. She bolted though the unlocked door, before Cody could drag her back out. Down a narrow hallway, she fled through another door that led to a wide open space. Empty space. Damn it. Could the prisoners have been moved already? How?
"There, are you satisfied now?"
She spun around at the sound of Cody’s voice. "No." She walked the perimeter of the room. At the far end, the room curved down and around. This place was huge. At the far end, her nostrils flared. Animal. Death. Fear. Pain.
This area had been used as housing for animals during the cold winter months. Horses, most likely. Ancient farm smells permeated the air. Hay. Manure. Blood.
"What’s the matter?" Cody whispered.
She looked at him. "Can’t you smell it?"
"Smell what?"
"Death. Pain. And an overwhelming fear."
"I can’t sense any of that. What are you talking about?"
Tessa looked at him strangely. "Not even with your vampire senses?"
He turned and lifted his nose in the smelled the air. After a moment, he shook his head and laughed. "You don’t have a clue, do you? There’s nothing there." He dropped the smile. "The fun’s over. Let’s go home."
Tessa turned her back on him. Moving closer to the one side, Tessa concentrated harder. There. Jared. Relief washed over her. He was alive. "Jared’s in there."
But Cody was talking to empty space.


Tessa darted ahead of him. Half smooth walking talking vamp and half wholesome innocent human. He shook his head. What happened to David’s kid sister? He’d always been protective of her and Cody had naturally picked that up. She was different from the rest of them. Seth didn’t treat her with the same patience. And her Dad, well, he didn’t know what patience was. If it wasn’t for her mom, her life would have been much different.
On the outside she looked vampire. Hell, she looked hot. He hadn’t believed his eyes when he’d seen her tonight. He knew most of the gorgeous females in their area and she hadn’t been one of them. He'd followed her for that reason initially.
She’d smelled familiar. Then she’d turned and he caught a glimpse of Tessa in that wicked outfit. But she’d given him the rebuff. Confused, he’d withdrawn and kept a close watch. When she’d disappeared out back, he’d followed and couldn’t believe it when he’d seen her in the moonlight. He still wasn’t sure until she’d jumped. Jumped. Vampires did a lot of things, like flew, floated and even raced, but everything they did, they did with grace.
Not her. Awkward, disjointed movements, hard landings and gawky take offs. Little Tessie had somehow morphed into one hot Tessa.
His curiosity and doubt had turned to horror. She’d only ever been allowed at vampire meetings with a chaperone and sure as hell not in that ‘come hither and get laid’ outfit.
Christ, she’d looked good. And vampirish. Good enough to fool everyone there. But if her family found out, well that would be the end of life as she knew it.
Buy Vampire in Denial at:

To find out more about Dale and her books, visit her at http://www.dalemayer.com. Or connect with her online with Twitter at www.twitter.com/dalemayerand on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dalemayer.author

Love Is The Answer - Guest Roz Lee

Love is the Answer

Family – any group of related things or beings.

Okay, so this isn’t the most common definition of family, but I like it better than any of the others. Perhaps that’s because some of my relatives fit under the ‘things’ category more than the ‘beings’ category. Shhhh! Don’t tell them I said that! I’m sure some of them think the same thing about me, so we’re even.

For the most part, we don’t get to pick our family – they’re given to us by birth, or they marry into the family – usually without asking the rest of us if we’re in agreement. I’ve sometimes wondered if it wouldn’t be more reasonable to vote on letting new people into the family. Say, your cousin wants to marry. Everyone would get a chance to meet the prospective bride, and then cast his or her vote. It’s a practical system, don’t you agree? That way, we’d have some say as to whom we’re related to.

If this had been the case in my family, I can think of a few who never would have made the cut. No one but the person they married liked them, and even that didn’t last. They should have just asked us, we could have told them they were wasting their time. We could have saved them a lot of heartache, and alimony too. But of course, that’s not the way it works. Larry McMurtry said it very well in Leaving Cheyenne - “…a woman’s love is like the morning dew, it’s just as apt to fall on a horse turd as it is on a rose.”

That’s a pretty cynical look at love, especially coming from a hopeless romantic, like me. But I’ve seen the truth in the statement, and I’m sure you have too. There isn’t any accounting for taste. So, when I was writing Four of Hearts, I kept coming back to one thing that bothered me the most. Why would anyone want more than one spouse? Marriage is hard enough when it only involves two people, so what would possess happily married people to enter into a committed relationship with someone else?

The answer is love. We have little choice in where our heart leads us. Yes, we can guide it with logic and common sense, sometimes. But just as often, our heart opens and lets someone in, against our better judgment. No amount of rational thinking will dissuade us from following a course of action that is sure to bring challenges. It’s how we handle those challenges that make the difference. We can choose to hide from them, or we can face them head-on.

My characters in Four of Hearts find themselves in uncharted waters, loving beyond their traditional marriages. Finding the right path for them is difficult – the road littered with challenges they couldn’t begin to conceive at the beginning of the relationship. There are no easy answers, and a wrong choice could destroy everything if they aren’t careful. In the end, believing in their love is the key.

Here’s a bit more about Four of Hearts. I hope you’ll enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Blurb –

Marriage hasn’t tamed Candace Callahan’s sexual curiosity, something her husband Ryan is grateful for, but when she asks him to tie her up for her anniversary present, he knows he’s going to need the help of their friends, Richard Wolfe and his wife, Fallon.

Dr. Fallon Enright is the resident sex therapist aboard the Lothario - the cruise ship co-owned by her husband and Ryan Callahan. When Ryan asks to participate in one of their couple’s rope bondage classes, Richard isn’t sure it’s a good idea, but Fallon assures him all will be well.

What begins as innocent curiosity, blossoms into a polyamorous relationship none of them could have expected, but they are powerless to ignore. When the tabloids expose their new lifestyle, the foursome must choose between the love they feel for each other, or accepting society’s moral constraints.

Excerpt –

Candace was through trying to understand him. After their first sexual encounter with Richard and Fallon, Ryan had retreated into his shell, and it had taken her a week to coax him back out. This time was different. This time he wouldn’t leave her alone. On some level, she knew it was a good problem to have, an attentive husband, but on another level, she wanted some time alone.

For two weeks, Ryan had dogged her steps like he was attached to her by an invisible cord. She couldn’t shower without him in the shower with her, or standing guard in the bathroom. The one time he left the island to check on the resort construction project, he’d insisted she go along. He was beginning to remind her of gum on the bottom of her shoe.

“Ryan, go away.”

“I’m okay here. Don’t mind me.”

“How can I not mind you? You’re making me nervous.” She waved the knife she was using to cut up the fruit for their lunch. “Go to the beach. Come back in half an hour. Lunch will be ready then.”

“I like watching you.”

Candace slammed the knife down on the counter. “I love you. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you get back. I promise.”

The man was beyond exasperating. He slumped in the kitchen chair and crossed his
ankles and his arms. “I don’t want to go to the beach. I want to stay here.”

Candace walked around the kitchen island, pulled out another chair and sat. “Ryan, tell me what’s going on. Richard is emailing every day wondering when you’re going to do the Employee Performance Reviews. You follow me around like you’re stuck to my shoe. I’m not complaining about you being an attentive husband, but really, Ryan, is it necessary to be with me every second? What’s going on?”

“Nothing. I just feel uneasy about being away from you.”

She gentled her voice and leaned in close. “I’m not going anywhere.” His eyes were hard, distant. “There’s something else going on. I can see it in your eyes. What are you afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid of anything. It’s…I don’t know. I can’t shake this feeling that our lives are changing and…I…I don’t want it to change.”

“Is this about the time we spent with Richard and Fallon? Are you afraid that changed things between you and me?”

“No. If anything, I love you even more than I did before, but yeah, this started then. I can’t explain it.”

“That was a special time, for all of us. Our relationship with them is different now because of it, but not in a bad way. I love you, Ryan. I love you more than I ever thought possible, but a part of me loves Richard and Fallon too. I wish we could all find a way to be together, but…”

“Don’t go there. We aren’t going there. I made promises to you, and I’m going to keep them.”

“Is that what this is about? Are you afraid your feelings for Richard and Fallon are the same as breaking your promises to me?” His silence confirmed her analysis. “Don’t you see? The promises we made to each other are still valid. Nothing in those promises prohibited us from loving beyond just you and me. I know you won’t act on your feelings without my consent, and you know in your heart, I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do. That’s how strong our love is. I’ll do anything to keep you, even deny my love to expand to include Richard and Fallon.”

“I don’t want you to deny your feelings. I want you to have everything. I’m trying to wrap my head around this, but our lives are changing in a way I don’t understand. I can’t lose you. I can’t.”

Candace sank to her knees between his, and took his hands in her own. His hard eyes pleaded with her to understand. “You’ll never lose me. I would give up anything, but you. You are non-negotiable.” She flashed her wedding band at him. “I have a no-trade agreement. You’re stuck with me.”

He pulled her to his lap and held her tight. “Same goes. No-trade.”

Author Bio –

Roz Lee has been married to her best friend, and high school sweetheart, for over three decades. These days she splits her time between their home in rural New Jersey, and Southern California, where her husband works. Even though she’s lived on both coasts, her heart lies in between, in Texas. A Texan by birth, she can trace her family back to the Republic of Texas. With roots that deep, she says, “You can’t ever really leave.”

Roz and her husband have two grown daughters they couldn’t be more proud of, and are currently raising a eleven-year-old Labrador Retriever, Betty Boop, who isn’t aware of her canine heritage.

When Roz isn’t writing, she’s reading, or traipsing around the country on one adventure or another. No trip is too small, no tourist trap too cheesy, and no road unworthy of traveling.

Find Roz –


Buy links –

Red Sage
Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks

Great Review for Leap of Faith!

The first review for Leap of Faith is in! Yay! It's always a little nerve-wracking to see the link for a review for something you've written pop up in your inbox. Will they love it? Will they hate it? Aggghhh, the suspense! I'm happy to report, however, that this was a GREAT review. Let me share it with you :)


When her grandmother bequeaths her a black pearl choker, Mia’s intrigued. Even more mysterious is the note accompanying the gift, telling Mia her heart will know when she should wear the necklace. And it does. As she dresses to attend a company party, Mia somehow knows it’s time to don the choker.

When Mia meets Logan at the party, their mutual lust is instantaneous. Only after the man gives her an unexpected, mind-blowing orgasm under the full moon does Mia learn Logan is vying for the same promotion she’s worked so hard to win. Despite that, their smoldering attraction remains, urging them to indulge in further pleasures of the flesh. Then they discover the small charm hanging from the choker’s clasp—a charm engraved with a love spell.

Are their sizzling desires nothing more than a magical push from her grandmother? Mia will have to take a leap of faith to discover if Logan is The One.

Reviewed by Donna at You Gotta Read Reviews

Do you believe in magic?  Love at first sight?  Is there even a difference between the two?  Mia has just met the man of her dreams, literally, and experiences an inexplicable mutual attraction that draws them together almost against their will.  Neither Logan nor Mia have ever felt anything so powerful as the pull that makes them completely unable to resist each other.  Ms. Daniels has woven a story with enough scorchingly hot sex to label it an erotica, enough romance to label it a love story and just enough magic to make me want to read more!  I didn't want to put this book down.  The only thing that could have made it any better would have been to make it a little longer, but for a novella, this was an excellent read.

Yay, right? Yes, very yay! The review made my day. Big, huge thanks to Donna for her kind words. And now, along with all the other crazies out there, I can go get some Black Friday shopping done -- I need to start chiseling away at all those Christmas lists.

Have a great weekend!


A Little Thanksgiving Romantic Fiction

For this holiday, I put together a little romantic fiction for you. Created between shopping trips and pre-meal preparation, it hasn't been revised. I hope you enjoy it anyway. Have a great holiday everyone!

The Thanksgiving Treat
An familiar smell filled the air in his kitchen and Eric frowned. He inhaled deeply, recognizing the delicious aroma wafting from next door. Peanut butter cookies.
Not good. Not good at all.
This was the third Saturday in a row that his gorgeous next door neighbor, Evie Walters, baked some kind of delectable treat as opposed to the comfort foods she usually prepared after a Friday night foray into the dating scene. Over the last several months, her pattern hadn’t changed.
A so-so date netted some kind of chicken or potato dish, while a bad date meant a casserole of some kind. A horrible date translated into a pasta dish with which Evie could enjoy a relaxing and somewhat analgesic glass of her favorite port. Good dates, which had been few and far between to Eric’s secret relief, meant the neighborhood kids would enjoy cupcakes or cookies or fudge, and so would he. The good dates never got past one Saturday treat, so three meant Evie was serious about someone, and it wasn’t him. His gut tightened.
His cell buzzed, drawing away from his misery. He checked the caller and sighed.
“Hey sis. What’s up?” he asked, knowing this conversation wasn’t going to make him feel any better.
“You’re an idiot,” his sister Jessa stated. Great, just what he needed. He tried not to let his irritation show, but as the essence of the peanut buttery treat engulfed him, he snapped.
“And why is that?”
“You haven’t asked her out yet, have you? And you’ve got a perfect excuse. You need a date for Thanksgiving next week or the entire family is going to roll their eyes at you for being such a weenie.”
“How’s that? None of them know about Evie except…”
“I told them. I told them you’ve been waiting for her to get over her divorce before asking her out. For over a year. They laughed, and they’ll laugh at you if you show up alone next week.”
Eric rubbed his hand over his face. He loved his family dearly, but Jessa was right. Most of them served with distinction in the military, including Jessa, who made a much better sergeant than a confidante. They’d think, even after his service in Iraq and his heading his own security firm, that his situation qualified as hilarious.
How could he tell his sister that he’d waited too long and now Evie found some other guy to give her goodies to? He pictured her curves and her smile and her long brown hair and her sparkling eyes. Damn it! Jessa was right. He was an idiot.
Her voice brought him back to reality.
“What’s she cooking today?”
“Peanut butter cookies. The third Saturday in a row she’s baked treats,” he answered glumly, mentally kicking himself. He should have gone over and stopped this madness after the chocolate cupcakes last week. With the marshmallow icing. How could he have not seen this coming?
It’s not like he and Evie weren’t friends already. It’s not like they didn’t get along well and sometimes even went grocery shopping together. It’s not like they hadn’t sat on his porch sipping wine a couple of times.
“Those are your favorite. Stop being such a dork and ask her for one.” With that command and a click, Jessa ended their conversation.
If Eric hadn’t already decided to follow Jessa’s firm advice, the sight of Dirk the Jerk, the neighborhood lothario, strutting up to Evie’s door would have convinced him to do what he should have done months ago. He stormed out the door, his mission set.
By the time he made it to Evie’s walkway, Dirk the Jerk, smirking and hands full with a tray of pastries he probably coaxed her into creating for one of his half-baked schemes, swaggered toward his car parked at the curb. He winked at Eric.
“Nice goodies, huh, Eric? They love ‘em at the bingo parlor,” he said, his emphasis on “bingo parlor” making it clear he’d made it up to get a chance at Evie.
Eric resisted the urge to pummel the scumball and stalked toward Evie’s porch. She stood in her doorway, rocking a day dress and apron combo that hugged her figure and made Eric’s heart pound. She smiled, and every part of him tightened. He opened his mouth, but words failed him. Evie stared, her expression expectant.
“I-May I have a peanut butter cookie?” Eric stammered, and Evie grinned.
“Thought you’d never ask,” she said, her perfect pouty lips suddenly more inviting than ever.
“They’re you’re favorite, aren’t they? Figured so. I’ve been watching what you put in your shopping cart. I've cooked all your favorites--chicken, potatoes, every casserole I can think of, pasta... I thought I'd never get you over here."
Eric grinned and stepped closer, plucking a peanut butter delight from the plate in Evie’s hand. This Thanksgiving was going to be much better than he thought.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Traditions

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of the less stressful holidays for me, and one I really look forward to each year. One, I can’t wait for my mom’s dinner. Her stuffing rocks!

Anyway, we have a very odd family tradition, but it works for us. Today, I will pack up my kids and my nephew and head to my mom and dad’s house. I plan to get there early, because I have a full day to spend with the kids. Usually, we will take them to do something fun. There is an awesome place in my hometown that is so much cooler than Chuck E Cheese that I love to take the kids to when we are in town, and I play just as hard as the kids do. Video games, bumper cars, and laser tag. Yes!

Afterwards, we’ll come home where we have dinner. This isn’t Thanksgiving dinner, this is all the goodies we love dinner. This year is hot dogs, bacon and breakfast crescents. Yes, you read the right. I wanted hot dogs (my mom’s slaw rocks!) and my sister wanted bacon and the breakfast crescents. Then we’ll all gather around the dining room table and play games and the adults will have a couple of drinks.

Every year for as far back as I can remember, we wake up bright and early and go to the annual Flea Market held on Thanksgiving morning. Unfortunately, flea markets aren’t as cool as they used to be. Back when I was younger, flea markets were more like a huge yard sale and you could find all kind of treasures. Nowadays, it’s a bunch of junk. Really. You can buy deodorant, or if it really tickles your fancy, Hamburger Helper. I’m not joking. But even with the change in the flea market, not going would just feel wrong.

When we get back, football comes on and then we eat dinner. Then everyone gathers around the living room and promptly falls asleep. Do you know how funny it is to walk into a room and every sofa and chair has someone in it asleep?

So what are your Thanksgiving traditions?



Scotland Travel Tips + Calendar Contest

I love visiting Scotland! It’s my favorite vacation destination. But it’s far different from heading to the beach here in the Southern US, although I love that too. For those planning to travel to Scotland for the first time, I hope these travel tips will help. I learned some of these the hard way. :)

If you’re jetlagged or weren’t able to sleep on the plane, give yourself a day or two to rest up. Most flights from the US to Scotland are at night. And you lose five hours in the transatlantic flight. Going for 36+ hours with no sleep is exhausting and makes it difficult to enjoy sightseeing the first day. But if you CAN sleep on the plane, you’ll have fewer problems. Allow a few days to get fully adjusted to the time change and be aware that in summer there’s very little darkness.

Any time you visit Scotland, especially the Highlands, from spring to fall, you should probably dress for late fall/ early spring in the US. Forget the sandals, shorts, Capri pants or any other type of summer clothing, unless you’re staying in Southern Scotland. I’ve heard of some people having to buy a whole new wardrobe once they arrived because they misjudged the weather. The further north you go, especially into the Highlands and Islands, the colder it gets. The weather in Scotland is unpredictable and can change in five minutes. It rains A LOT and the wind is usually cold and brisk, even in summer. In certain areas, it can snow any month of the year, although this is probably rare in July and August. But I have seen snow in June. I’ve found it easiest to layers of sweaters and jackets that I can add to or remove depending on the temperature. A good rain jacket or rain coat with a hood is a must. Not only does it protect you from the driving rain you might be caught out in, but it also acts as a windbreaker. Umbrellas are useless most of the time because of the wind. Ski hats can even be worn in June. Sure, the Scots might laugh at you, but you will be warm. LOL Some especially cold and windy places are coastlines and the tops of mountains.

For your first visit to the UK or any country where they drive on the opposite side of the road, it’s probably best to let someone else drive you around until you learn the flow of traffic. Once you’re ready to tackle driving on the left, go online and learn British road signs. These signs might be on posts or they may be painted on the road. Online, you can learn how traffic circles or roundabouts work, if you’re unfamiliar with them. There are tons of them in the UK. Watching videos at YouTube can help you get used to both roundabouts and driving on the left.

While driving in Scotland, watch for red deer, which could be on the road.
Ditto for the sheep.

Making use of a pull off or passing place.

Unless you like driving 80 MPH on narrow, curvy roads, on the wrong side of the road, cars will likely ride your bumper. It’s probably best to pull over into the pull-off or passing spots, marked with a sign--a “P” on a blue background. Or a different sign that says "Passing Place." The Scots will appreciate this and show it by honking their horns briefly.

If you’re going anywhere away from the large cities of Scotland, remember to take food and water with you. In some of the smaller towns and villages, you should be able to find restaurants open at reasonable hours from mid-spring to mid-fall. But if it’s after hours or mid-fall to mid-spring, don’t expect many restaurants to be open. Your options may be limited. This is a good thing. It simply makes you appreciate the food you find that much more. LOL One night we had planned to eat at a pub, the only restaurant in the area, but there was a power outage. Good thing we had snacks.

You want to have phone service here.
Unless you already have an international calling plan, the most economical and easiest way to call back to the US is to buy an inexpensive mobile phone in Scotland at Tesco or similar store. This will be around 20 GBP. And then you can top-up the minutes 10 or 20 GBP at a time, depending on how much you plan to call and how long you’re staying. The per-minute charge is low (around 7 cents per minute when I was there) and each top-up is good for a month. You can buy top-ups at most stores, even gas/petrol stations. If you’re traveling in the Highlands or in rural areas mostly, Vodafone will give you the most reliable service. Some of the other carriers work fine in the cities but rarely in the Highlands or even a few miles outside the cities.

Scotland’s superstores or supercenters are Tesco and ASDA. They’re similar to Wal-Mart in that they sell food, clothing and a lot of other necessities at low prices. You may find you need an extra jacket, batteries, a phone, food or something to drink and these would be a good place to find things like that without breaking the bank. They rarely sell souvenirs or cool things made in Scotland. Go to smaller shops for that. Scotland also has Coops which are similar to superstores in that they sell a wide variety of things, but they’re smaller and will be found in the smaller towns that don’t have superstores.
No superstores out here.
If you’re driving yourself around, it’s easiest to plan out beforehand the sites you want to visit and directions for getting there or the location so you don’t waste time getting lost and trying to find your way around. You can use Google Maps online for planning. This will also give you information about driving time. For me, using a GPS with the UK card was the best way to do this. I’ve found mine to be accurate most of the time. Before you leave home, you can type in the addresses or postal codes of the hotels, B&Bs, castles and other sites you want to visit. Of course you’ll also want to allow for some free time to rest, or for spur of the moment exploring. If you're anything like me, you'll need to figure extra time into driving time because of stopping a lot and taking pictures. :)
Kilt Rock. Definitely a place to stop for photos.

If you’re going with your spouse or significant other, be aware that most Scottish beds for two people are double, which to me is way too small. Queen-sized or king-sized beds are difficult to find unless the hotel or B&B has been recently renovated. Single beds are also plentiful.

I’ve found National Car Rental to be the most economical for car rental or car hire. We were able to get an automatic for around 400 GBP for two weeks. Automatics are hard to come by in the UK so if you can drive a manual, shifting with your left hand, the cost should be even less. If possible, reserve one ahead of time, but this doesn’t guarantee your car will be there when you show up. Don’t you just love surprises like that? :)

Gas or Petrol in the UK is more expensive than it is in the US but most of their cars get far better gas mileage. The last one we rented (see photo above) got 50 miles per gallon.

Some people like to look for B&Bs or hotel rooms wherever they happen to be that day. I don’t like the uncertainty of this. I like to book rooms ahead of time so I’ll be sure and have a bed for the night in a place that has received good reviews. In summer, or high season, (or in popular tourist areas like Isle of Skye) rooms could potentially all be booked by the time you arrive. There are many ways to book rooms. If you have a phone plan that allows you to call the UK, this will be the easiest way. If not, you can book some hotels and B&Bs online, either through emailing the owner direct, or booking online via a form and secure credit card payment. Not many Scottish businesses accept Paypal, but you will find a few that will.

Do you have any Scotland travel tips to add to my list? I'm still learning so I'll take all the tips I can get.

CONTEST: each person who comments will be entered into a drawing for a 2012 Scotland calendar made with my photos. You can either leave a travel tip, a suggestion for a must see site, or the place you most want to visit in Scotland. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you. This contest is open until Dec. 1 and the winner will be drawn at random.

Thanks for checking out my post!!


Word of Mouth?

How do you find books to read?

Do you browse the bookstore shelves or the online recommendations? Do you stick with authors you know? Publishers you know? Are you drawn to a sexy cover? An intriguing blurb? Do you depend on reviews?

Or do you rely on word of mouth?

Authors are readers first. I'm always looking for good books to read. I consider recommendations the best way to discover new books to enjoy. That doesn't always mean face to face conversations because most of my friends and co-workers don't read what I like, although I have tried some new authors/genres and discovered some favorites that way.

I've discovered some great new, or new-to-me, authors from Twitter. But not from author promo. From readers mentioning a great book they just read. I love reading several tweets about the same book from excited readers. I always check them out.

It's also a reminder for me, for all of us, to let others know when we've read a book we love. Not just because you want to talk about the story with someone else (although that may often be the reason with my face to face friends) But it can be simply because you want others to get the same enjoyment you did. And because you want to support your favorite authors and let them know you loved what they wrote. And because of that, they'll write even more stories for you to love.

And it's all from word of mouth.

For those of you who like to read reviews, I'm thrilled with the one I just received for RISK IT, my newest release. Marika from Harlie's Book Blog starts by saying:

"Natasha Moore has written a book that should be on everyone's list to read and discuss with their partner, married or not. Its thought provoking, sexy and is written with a intimate knowledge of when a marriage is on the edge of unraveling." You can read the rest of the review here.

How do you find books to read? And do you have any recommendations for me??

FLAUNT IT - Paolo's Playhouse #1
RISK IT - Paolo's Playhouse #2

Why I Broke Up with My Gynecologist

No, this is not some gimmick to hype a new book, although a book with a gynecologist hero would be kind of fun to write. :) I really will be writing about why my doctor and I parted ways. I realize this is sort of an odd spot to be talking about this, but if I can post on here to vent about nude peep-toes, I figure paddling down a tributary from that tangent probably isn't such a stretch, especially if that post might contain information that could possibly help someone on the health front. The saying, "If you have your health, you have everything," is absolutely, in my opinion, true.

Some years ago, my gynecologist, a wonderfully patient-focused and talented physician, retired. Happy for him but kind of bummed for me, I decided the best course of action was to become a patient of his replacement and see how things went. Certainly the new doctor couldn't be that bad...


My first visit was my last. I am a patient and trusting individual who respects medical doctors and their expertise, but a number of red flags went up before and after the exam. Normally, like many people, I would just shrug these off and tell myself anyone can make mistakes. But this wasn't anyone; this was someone I could, in the future, be trusting my life with, and these were my girl parts we were dealing with, not my fingernails or eyelashes or something that I can get at the local drugstore if I broke one. Last I checked, they don't sell ovaries by the box at the local pharmacy. I went to my appointment optimistic, but that soon was replaced with a feeling of anxiety.

First, I noticed the container they would use to send my pap sample away had the wrong last name on it. Sitting there, freezing, on the exam table, I made a mental note to mention it and hope it would be corrected before being sent out. Not a terrible thing, but a notable mistake.

The next red flag is one that may not bother other people, but it drives me nuts. I'm sitting there, trying to think happy thoughts, which is useless at the gyn's office because the exams always end up with something called a specula being used. That, along with the terrible fear that I will sneeze and shoot the blasted implement right into the doctor's forehead, injuring her irreparibly while she's got me in a completely vulnerable position, puts my nerves into overdrive. Suddenly, though, I found a way to take the pressure off me--I tuned into the nurse making phone calls right outside the office door. One of the nurses was contacting patients, and I could hear every word. I learned an awful lot about the health of the woman on the other end of the line, including her name and other identifying information that should have been kept confidential. Perhaps the nurse didn't realize she could be heard, but still, it made me uneasy. Most doctors' offices have a room for patient consultations, and I know my doctor did at one time. Had they removed it? If so, when they called me, who would be listening to private details about my health?

Finally, my new doctor came rushing in. Unlike her predecessor, she didn't ask many questions and when I volunteered health history, she shook her head and said that family health history didn't matter. Huh? She got straight to work and told me I had what I will call Issue XYZ. Many women have this, she said, and explained little else because she planned to give me some pamphlets on Issue XYZ. Guess what happened? Yep, I never did get the pamphlets. A later Web search provided some information, but the Web is not supposed to be my gynecologist, and it's certainly not paid to be. I had questions and no one to go to for answers. Grrrrr.

When it was over, I got dressed and left the exam room, pondering what to do. I mean, after all, what happened--the mistake with the name, the abrupt bedside manner, the lack of confidentiality, the promise of information that never materialized--they could all happen at any doctor's office, couldn't they? Was I just being a fussy, demanding patient? The kind doctors hate?

No, I hadn't been. I'd been nice, and that niceness had pretty much been met with indifference. I couldn't get the nagging idea out of my head that as someone paying a lot of money to take care of my health, I deserved better. I shouldn't be left feeling like a child who'd asked for some attention and gotten a scolding for it.

So, when I made my next appointment, I told the nurse I wanted to switch to another doctor in the group about whom I'd heard really good comments, and she switched me. I wish I could say that was the happy ending I'd wished for, but it wasn't right away. They were fine with switching me, except to keep my yearly appointment, I would have to go to the nurse practioner due to the doctor's busy schedule.

No problem, right? Right, except that if you allow it, some offices will keep scheduling you with a nurse practitioner forever. This would probably have been fine except that this particular nurse practitioner, a person who was supposed to be my health advocate, always seemed too fatiqued to talk with me more than one minute about any of my concerns, including Issue XYZ. I always try to not take too much time or ask too many questions, but this woman acted like I should realize that at 4 PM in the afternoon, her job was to stick in the specula, complete the standard checklist, and go home.

After my second appointment where I left feeling like I should have just gone in, spread 'em, and left, I told the office rep that I wanted to see the actual doctor.

"It'll will take an extra month to fit you in. He's pretty busy," she replied, poised to put me down again for the NP.
"I'll wait," I said, returning her smug smile.

And that is where the happy ending came in. At my next appointment, the doctor told me that a visit with the NP is just a stopgap measure and that he was glad I decided to wait to see him. I've never seen anyone since, and I won't. He knows what he's doing, and he takes time to explain what needs to be explained, including Issue XYZ. I try not to take much of his time, and he appreciates it, but he also makes sure I leave his office fully informed.

Why am I writing this post? Because our health is an incredible gift, and the people we trust it to should be worthy of that trust. Too often patients ignore red flags that later turn out to have been signs that something was terribly wrong. Would the first gynecologist ever have put me at real risk? Who knows? I wasn't about to hang around and find out. I've come to learn that if I feel uneasy about something, there's probably a good reason for it.

In short, if you feel the wind from a red flag whipping in the breeze, don't ignore it. It's much better to make a needed change than to look back thinking, "I should've have known when..."

Have a great Thursday!

Favorite Quotes

I’m feeling motivational today. I wanted to share some favorite quotes I hold dear to my heart. I think each of us has that one quote we use to help keep how we want to live our lives in perspective, even during the bad times. Heck, I don’t know about ya’ll but these quotes really help me power through the bad times.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”--Nietzsche

I think this applies to each and every one of us.

“…those who do not believe in magic will never find it.”-- Roald Dahl

Pretty powerful words, huh? Which also leads me to another quote said by Howard to Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory: “Believe in magic, you muggle.”

“Nothing is “impossible.” The word itself says “I’m possible.”--Audrey Hepburn

Love this one.

And here are a few new to me quotes that really hit home:

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”--Mae West

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”--Henry Ford

“Never tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon”--Author Unknown (I absolutely adore this one.)

“Do it big or stay in bed.”--Larry Kelly

Share your quote with me. I’d love to add some new ones to my list.



Pitching A Story by Guest Blogger Qwillia Rain

Writing is difficult. Very difficult. I'm not going to lie and say that anyone can write a book. They can't. To write a book you have to be willing to work hard. Very HARD. You have to be willing to take vicious criticism and write and rewrite and re-rewrite ad nauseum until the idea in your head is clear on the page. That kind of perseverance isn't easily cultivated. And it doesn't come naturally to many people.

How does this apply to pitching? The same perseverance needed for writing comes in handy when dealing with writing blurbs and pitches. If you aren't familiar with "pitching" I'm not talking about the skillful throwing of a baseball or softball across home plate in an effort to strike out another team's batter.

Pitching for an author is the presentation of a book idea to an editor, agent, or publisher. Most of the time and in many ways, it can be considered a verbalized query.  In my opinion though, every time a person skims the description of a book, either on-line or in a bookstore, they are reading a pitch. By creating a compelling "pitch", an author can pique the curiosity of another person and, with luck, make a potential sale.

So, how can you create a pitch?

Now, everyone does it differently, but this is my method.

You start with an interesting story. Not that all stories aren't interesting, but some are better than others. Once you have the story, then you can start paring it down. I know, I know, you're probably thinking, "but I just finished the darned thing!" It's okay, you don't have to cut anything out of the story. What you have to do is something I personally find more difficult than writing or editing the book — write the synopsis.

Yup, take those beautiful 100K (100,000) words and reduce it down to a 1,000 word summary of all the high points. Some authors write this before the story, some write it during, some write it after. Me, I'm an "after" if I really, really have to do it. If you know your story, it shouldn't take too long.
Here's where the pitching comes in. With the synopsis done, you now have to take that 1,000 words and reduce it down to 200.

Yes, I said 200 words. You're creating your long blurb. That neat description on the back of the book that makes the reader go "Hmmm? This sounds interesting." Just enough of a teaser to get the person reading it to want to know more. To ask why? And who is she? Or how did he know that?

Here's an example of a long blurb for my book, An Invitation: Ariel's Pet.
Ariel Valerian knew cooking techniques and recipes, but a Dominant like Dane Reese had her more hot and bothered than a dozen hours slaving in a steamy kitchen. And 'slaving' is just what she intends to teach her blond-haired, blue-eyed, oh so yummy surfer boy. He might be helping at the family café as a favor to her sister, but there was no way she was giving him an opportunity to play Dom with her.
For Dane Reese, Ariel Valerian is a full-figured pixie -- a life-size, blue-haired Tinkerbell in a chef's coat surrounded by the scent of chocolate and cinnamon and an aura of mind-blowing, sweaty sex. Too bad she's driving him insane with her determination to order him around. As a Dominant and half-owner of A Master's Gift, Dane has seen his share of Dommes and submissives, and, no matter how she might deny it, Ariel is destined to call him Master.
Two powerful personalities; a contest to determine who is more adept at control; and less than thirty days to discover if Ariel will bow to Dane's commands, or if Dane will become Ariel's Pet.
This long blurb is only 188 words. It gives the gist of the conflict in the story and the disposition of the hero and heroine. From these 188 words I made the short blurb.

The short blurb is best described as your elevator pitch. A quick two or three sentence description of the story that can initiate conversation. The short blurb is 200 characters — yes, I said characters and not words. What I mean by characters is letters, spaces, and punctuation marks.

This means you are going to really use your words wisely for this blurb. The short blurb is what is used on the publisher's website to give the reader a hint of what the story is about. It compels readers to click on the link to read the summary of the story.

Try not to repeat words or character names if you don't have to. Here's the short blurb for An Invitation: Ariel's Pet.
She knows flans, soufflés, and pastries; he has mastered ball-gags, floggers, and bondage. Ariel won't back down and Dane won't submit. Will she go to her knees for him, or will he become Ariel's Pet?
This short blurb was only 200 characters (including spaces) long. Note it doesn't go into detail, only presents the key conflict in the story — namely, the struggle for control between the main characters.
So, how can this help other authors?

As you work on your blurbs keep in mind the purpose of them. Blurbs or pitches are something you will always have to develop with each of your stories if you intend to pursue writing as a career. Remember, pitches and blurbs need to be as polished as the novels they represent. You need to know your story and characters so well that the pitch is an extension of the story and rolls off your tongue in conversation as easily as your own name.

Bouncing ideas off your critique partners or someone who's read your book is a great way to get help in condensing your story to 200 words or characters. Ironically, the 200 character elevator pitch is a snap once you have the 200 word pitch.

Personally, I like working on pitches/blurbs. It's like doing a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle or a crossword puzzle in pen. A challenge worth meeting.

If anyone has a pitch that's not quite to the 200 words stage, feel free to post it and I'll see if I can help with it. Then we can get it down to 200 characters so you're ready just in case you find yourself in an elevator with an agent, editor, or publisher.

Have a great day!

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Qwillia! Everyone, please check out Qwillia's new release, In a Lover's Silence!

Alaskan bill-collector Wynne Smith has a problem. Actually, she has two. The first is sexy, six-foot, Deputy US Marshal, Seth Vassar, fresh off the plane from Dallas, Texas and looking for answers to a five year old murder investigation. The by-the-book marshal doesn't take no for an answer any more than Wynne likes to let a puzzle go unsolved. 

Which leads to her second problem. A serial killer intent on making Wynne pay for destroying his next work of art.

Now Wynne has to guard her heart against a man she knows is going to leave her while she tries to keep one step ahead of a maniac.

In a game this deadly, her only hope lies In A Lover's Silence.

RISK IT Contest

RISK IT, the second story in my Paolo's Playhouse series releases tomorrow, November 15th, from Samhain. I'm so excited. I love this series and I'm holding a contest here at Fierce Romance to celebrate!

On the outside, Amy has the American dream. Two busy kids, a job she loves, a big house thanks to her husband’s climb up the corporate ladder. What she hasn’t had in a long time…is sex. Sure, she’s too exhausted at night to think about it, but maybe Will’s long hours at work aren’t the real reason he rarely touches her anymore.

Feeling her marriage teetering on the edge, she rents the voyeur room at Paolo’s Playhouse. Maybe bringing back the memory of the one wicked thing they used to do together will relight the sparks.

Will loves his wife, but she’s never been one to take chances—except for the time before kids, when they’d camp out in a club’s back booth, getting all worked up watching the dirty dancers. Their careers have seriously cut into their “us” time, and if she’s booked them a sexual playroom, it sounds like she’s serious about solving the problem.

When Will shows up way, way late, Amy wonders why she bothered, and if her plan to relight the flame has only made it painfully clear that it’s too late to try.

While Amy is getting ready for her erotic evening with her husband, she stops and picks up some new underwear to help make her feel sexy. I don't mention where she bought the new bra and panty set, but in my mind, it was Victoria's Secret.

Once she’d reserved the room, Amy had spent the last few hours in eager anticipation and careful preparation, showering and shaving, buffing and slathering on the scented lotion Will had given her for Christmas. She’d blow-dried her hair into a fluffier, sexier version of her no-nonsense bob and went a little more dramatic on the makeup. Would Will even notice?

She rarely took the time—rarely had the time—to spend on herself. She worked a full-time job, in addition to being a mom and a cook and housecleaner and a wife. Troy and Eva always needed help with homework and rides to dance and soccer practice. Then there was laundry and dishes and all the other household chores. Who had time to be a sexy woman anymore? But unfamiliar excitement had tingled in her stomach as she put on the lacy bra and panties she’d picked up after she dropped off the kids at her parents for the night.

Amy finally got tired of waiting in her car, listening to the drumbeat of the rain on the roof. This was supposed to have been an erotic rendezvous, dammit. The thrills of anticipation she’d felt driving over there were slowly morphing into sparks of anger.

She stepped out of the car and cold rain trickled down her neck before she could duck under her umbrella. She slammed the door as hard as she could and made a mad dash across the well-lit parking lot.

She shook out her umbrella after stepping into the small foyer. The elevator ride up to the third floor was quick and smooth. There was a coat closet just inside the waiting room. Amy left her coat and umbrella there and then turned to look around the small room. It was quite elegant, not sleazy at all. The deep beautiful colors were probably supposed to be sensual and decadent, but they just seemed dark and oppressive to her. Or was that what her marriage had become?

Tears prickled at her eyes, but Amy refused to let them fall. He wasn’t really late yet. She glanced at her watch. Yes, dammit, he was.

I have a pretty pink bag from Victoria's Secret that just might have a few surprises tucked inside. I'll send it to one lucky commenter. Because I can't afford to break the budget, I'll have to limit this contest to US residents only. Be sure to check back tomorrow to find out the name of the winner.

And remember you can still pre-order RISK IT at a sale price today.

FLAUNT IT - Available now
RISK IT - Coming Nov 15th
BIRTHDAY GIRL - Coming Feb 2012
PLAYTHING - Coming May 2012