Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ambition and Absinthe at RWA National

Last night, after a terrific turnout at the Literacy signing (a special hello to fan girl Gabriela, who insisted on taking a photo with me, which totally made my night!), the Dunes & Dreamers (a term coined by our own Bertrice Small) finally settled down from the day's business at 10 pm for dinner. Afterwards, we scanned the dessert and after-dinner drinks menu. I, naturally, caught "absinthe" on the menu. Three of the five of us there immediately decided this was an opportunity not-to-be-missed and ordered glasses of the Green Fairy. Ummm...it's not quite as green as I thought. And it tastes like green Nyquil. Only stronger. And we didn't get little sipping glasses of the stuff either. These were rocks glasses! Okay, so Debora couldn't finish hers so Trisha and I had to empty her glass for her. But it was nothing to write home about. Still it's something I can check off my bucket list. If...I had a bucket list.

This afternoon, the one and only divine Nora Roberts inspired the writers, editors, agents, and industry professionals gathered in Orlando with an amazing keynote speech regarding what it takes to succeed in the romance publishing business. To sum up, she told us all to stop thinking about the good old days when it was "so much easier" to get a publishing contract and "ride the hard." Because as hard as it is now, it was just as hard ten years ago, ten years earlier than that, and it'll still be just as hard ten years from now.

What changes are the types of hurdles. But the writers who spend their energy complaining about the height of the hurdles will never surpass those who grit their teeth and jump the hurdles instead. As my son used to say when he was a toddler, "I've got my running and jumping shoes on." How about you?
 
Stay tuned for more as news develops! With pictures, I hope!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program...

Book II of the Kismet Series by Katherine Brandon, Kismet's Revenge, is now available in paperback from The Wild Rose Press.

The blurb: Marisa Alvarez looks forward to a day she'll remember the rest of her life. Instead of the marriage proposal and happily ever after she expects, however, she becomes one of only a handful of survivors of one of the bloodiest Indian uprisings in American history, the attack on Fort Mims.

Lucien St. Clair has been sent to Pensacola to learn the identity of a clever saboteur who calls himself "La Venganza." As he pursues the enigmatic figure, he is inexplicably drawn to Marisa, a treacherous woman whose beautiful face may hide deadly secrets.

But when acts of revenge escalate to kidnapping, Lucien will have to find a way to gain Marisa's trust, not only to save her life, but to win her heart!

An excerpt:

“Pandemonium, the high capital of Satan and his peers.” - John Milton (Paradise Lost)

PROLOGUE



Fort Mims, Mississippi Territory



August 30, 1813





Marisa Álvarez would remember this day the rest of her life. The day the man she loved asked her to be his wife. Last evening, he confessed he had something of great importance to discuss with her. What else could he mean but a marriage proposal?

Excitement danced in her veins, and she forced her feet to root in the dirt floor while she chopped vegetables for this evening’s chicken burgoo. Still her mind serenaded her with songs of a golden future. She and Tomás would have a wonderful life together. They’d already chosen the plot of land where they’d build their home, El Castillo de Cielo, the Castle of Heaven. An idyllic place, with plenty of pasture for the horses they’d raise.

The daydream mesmerized her so completely she flinched when a broad arm snaked her waist. The knife fell with a clatter on the cutting board. She whirled.

Her brother's amused face leaned over hers. "There's a strange look to you today, Montesita. Do you think, perhaps, Tomás is finally ready to ask for your hand?"

Happiness burst from her in sparks. "I hope so, ‘Lando."

“‘Tis long past time.” He squeezed her middle tighter than an overlaced corset. “You've been walking out for more than a year now."

"Bah!" her father grumbled from his place at the head of the long dining table. "There'll be no marriage until this cursed war is ended."

Struggling from her brother’s embrace, Marisa stamped a foot. "But Papa--"

Papa’s glower cut off her argument more cleanly than her knife cut the turnips. "I won't have my daughter a widow before she's scarcely a wife. If Tomás intends to wed you, he must agree to wait until there is peace in this land again."

Resentment bubbled, and she chopped the vegetables with renewed vigor. "Then I'll never marry. Tomás will tire of waiting and wed another."

Mama, stirring the large black pot on the open hearth, clucked her tongue. "Tomás will wait, mi hija. In the meantime, you must practice patience."

"Patience." Orlando snorted. "Asking our montesita to practice patience is akin to asking the Red Sticks to practice forgiveness.”

Laughter erupted from the family, and Marisa’s face burned. “Fine for you to say, ‘Lando. You didn’t have to wait to wed Juanita.” Waving the knife, she gestured at her heavily pregnant sister-in-law who sat near the crackling fire, embroidering yellow flowers on a tiny white gown.

Her mother strode to her side, shooing ‘Lando while his finger poised over a carrot slice. “Surely you don’t wish to wed in this makeshift fort, querida, when you might have a much grander affair at home with all your friends and family in attendance.”

“No,” she admitted, eyes downcast. “But it is so hard to wait.”

“Well.” Mama kissed her head. “Since Tomás has not asked you yet, I fear you must continue to wait a bit longer.”

A rhythmic knock on their cabin door sent her heart into spasms.

“I believe her waiting has come to an end,” Orlando quipped and pulled the apron over her head. "Go. Capture your suitor's heart. Juanita and I will help Mama finish the meal."

Suddenly breathless, Marisa stole a glance at Juanita and caught her nod. "Of course we will. Go. And return to us a betrothed lady."

Her delight erupting in a squeal, she hugged her brother, and then raced to open the door. As she expected, Tomás Marquez stood on the other side, looking resplendent in his military uniform. Her heart fluttered. Oh, he was so handsome!

"Buenos días, Marisa." He stooped to duck his head inside the low doorway and greeted the other occupants.

"Why, Tomás," Juanita said with a sly grin. "What a surprise to see you today."

Ruddy color filled the sharp angles of his cheeks. “I thought Marisa would like to walk with me before the noon meal.”

Marisa turned pleading eyes to her father. Don Carlos waved his hand. “Go, but don’t tarry. There’s work to be done.”

Stifling another squeal, she ran to her father’s side and kissed his roughly whiskered cheek. “Gracias, Papa.”

De nada, Montesita.” He placed a gentle kiss behind her lobe. “May God grant you happiness.”

Hand-in-hand with Tomás, she stepped outside the dark house and waited for her eyes to adjust to the bright sunshine. Around her, a normal day at Fort Mims unfolded. Laughing children skirted cabins near fields that once grew tall stalks of golden corn. Their mamas, hanging wet laundry on ropes strung from wall to wall, kept watch.

Tomás led her through the opened gate into the woods. In perfect silence, they walked along the edge of Tensaw Lake. Senses heightened to record every moment of today’s events, she drank in the heat of a summer afternoon, the tinge of chimney smoke stinging her nostrils. Songbirds scampered over the branches, chirping love calls to their mates. Through the leafy canopy, sunlight dappled the water. The same sparkle glistened in her veins, and a smile rode high on her face as they strode over mossy ground. Tomás’s hand, large and strong, fit so perfectly around her smaller dainty fingers.

At last, he stopped and, bowing, he indicated she sit on a large, flat rock at the lake’s edge.

Eyes intense with liquid fire, he knelt, clasping her fingers in his. Pulses jumped through her, and she tensed in excitement. “Montesita, you know I adore you. I’m not a wealthy man, but if you’d be my wife, I’d be richer than all the kings in this world. Will you be mine, querida?”

Marisa opened her mouth but a warning drum roll boomed over her answer. She had no time to speak again. Hundreds of savages streamed from the woods, brandishing red-painted clubs and whooping. Red Stick Indians!
 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Excerpt: A Little Slice of Heaven

Yup. It's Excerpt Time again here at Flights of Fancy. Today's excerpt comes from A Little Slice of Heaven, my Cinderella-in-a-pizzeria story, available now from The Wild Rose Press.

Sometimes, Hayley could be so dense. Living rent-free in her mother’s beach house, she had no idea how other people juggled their finances for big-ticket items like cars or daycare centers. “What choice do I have?” Gianna demanded.


“Well, there has to be another option.”

“Yeah, sure. I could marry a wealthy man, and have him buy the school for me.”

Hayley rolled her eyes with all the impatience of a teenager. “Can the sarcasm, okay, Gi? I’m only trying to help.”

“If you really wanna help, drop the subject.”

“Fine.” She lifted the napkins to check the spreading stain and frowned at the results. “How’d the shopping trip go?”

Gianna sighed. “Honest to God, you’d think he’d never seen the inside of a mall before.”

“Well, maybe he hasn’t.” Her index finger bobbed toward Gianna’s nose. “You said yourself Kyle’s probably never really worked a day in his life. And trust me. A man who has enough money to afford a place on Central Park West does not buy his clothes off the rack.”

Again, Gianna sought answers in the coffee cup. She found none. Instead, she noticed the brew ate away the waxy interior and left translucent curls atop the black surface. Her stomach flip-flopped. “I guess you’re right.”

“What about you? Did you find something to wear to the wedding?”

Her head jerked up, nearly snapping her neck. “Who had time? Appeasing Kyle and his, ‘these cuffs are too wide,’ ‘this stitching is deplorable,’ ‘where on earth did you get such shoddy fabric?’ mentality ate up two hours of good shopping time. And in the end, do you know what he bought?”

Hayley’s grin grew wider than the shoreline at low tide. “A pair of socks?”

Oh my God. “How did you know?” Had she followed them?

“What?” Hayley shrugged. “You think your Kyle’s different than any other man?”

“He’s not my Kyle—”

“Yeah, yeah. Listen, kiddo. When the topic is shopping, there are two kinds of men.” Leaning back, she studied her French manicure as if reading answers in the pink polish. “The first kind hates to shop and will buy anything in order to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Those are the ones you see at restaurants wearing plaid pants, floral shirts, and striped ties.” With a hiss of inhaled breath, she shivered.

Shaking her head, Gianna grinned. No doubt Hayley referred to her coworker at the real estate office. Ryan McKnight, a nice enough guy who always looked like he dressed in the dark.

“Now, the second kind claims he hates to shop,” Hayley continued, “then spends hours looking for the right garment. If the buttons on a dress shirt are spaced an eighth of an inch too far apart, he’ll complain to the salesman. The salesman will convince him to try the shirt on anyway. He’ll walk around the store in it for three-quarters of an hour, asking you every five minutes what you think. And regardless of what you say, he won’t buy the damned shirt because of the abominable spacing of the buttons. Your Kyle sounds like the second kind of male shopper.”

Theories aired, Hayley relaxed and folded her arms over her chest. Your Honor, I rest my case.

“Did I hear my name?”

Gianna whirled to see Kyle standing in the doorway. Fire consumed her neck and cheeks. How long had he been there? Had he overheard their conversation? No, a ridiculous thought. Hayley would have said something earlier.

She whipped around again to take note of any guilt in her best friend’s face. Judging by the sparkle in Hayley’s eyes, he’d only appeared in the doorway a moment ago.

“Good morning,” Hayley purred in a smoky, come-hither voice Gianna didn’t recognize.

Great. A good-looking man walks into the restaurant and suddenly I’m sitting with Scarlett Johansson.

“You must be Kyle.” The new voice floated through the air, wafting like heavy perfume on a spring breeze. In one fluid motion, Hayley rose and extended a hand. “I’m Hayley. Hayley Jeffords.”

“Kyle Hayden,” he replied, shaking her hand.

Still burning with humiliation, Gianna felt a new emotion tighten her face. Envy. With her peaches and cream complexion, thick honey blond hair, baby blue eyes, and luscious curves—all packaged in a five-foot-three-inch frame—Hayley had a way with men. Everything about her suggested she was a helpless female in dire need of a big, strong, handsome man to carry her off to a faraway kingdom and make love to her for hours on end. Hayley was a human candy box, for God’s sake.

When near her, Gianna always felt like a clumsy stork. Too tall for most men, long-legged and gangly, hair usually unkempt, blotchy skin with a smattering of freckles over her nose.

Hayley flashed a wink. “This one’s perfect for the wedding, Gi. You couldn’t have obtained a better specimen if you’d sent a detailed description to Santa Claus.”

Ears buzzing with the full impact of Hayley’s remark, Gianna dropped her head to the table to hide her face in the crook of her arm. If only she could bury herself deep in the earth, far from Hayley’s smirk and Kyle’s curious stare.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's Your Best Christmas Memory?

Since it's Christmas in July, we may as well talk about Christmas, right? So, share with me. What's your favorite Christmas memory? Here's mine:

I was in my early teens--junior high school age. In the best of years, there wasn't a lot of money in my parents' household. Seven kids, three bedroom/one bath house. Yeah, it was tight to say the least.

This particular year, my father lost his job right around Thanksgiving. When Christmas rolled around, there was still no job, little money, and lots of people expecting gifts under the tree. With my newly learned sewing skills, thanks to my home ec course in school, I helped my mother make nightgowns for my sisters. In secret, I made Mom an apron. On Christmas morning, our stockings were stuffed with fruit and nuts--no toys.

One thing my parents had a lot of was pride. No one knew how dire our financial straits were. Or...at least, that's what we all thought. Until our neighbors and friends knocked on our door two nights before the holiday. They came inside with a gigantic basket filled with all the makings of a perfect Christmas dinner.

I talk about that particular Christmas a lot. Why? Because it was a year when the true meaning of the holiday became apparent to a sullen, miserable teenager (me). And each year, I try to repay the generosity of our neighbors by making someone else's holiday a little brighter.

Your turn. What's your favorite Christmas memory?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How About a Recipe?

Since this is Christmas in July, I'm trying to blog every day of the month until I leave for RWA's National Conference on the 27th. But...I gotta tell ya. I'm just not that interesting.

So, today, I thought about skipping a post. Until my daughter, recovering from having all four wisdom teeth extracted and zonked on painkillers, asked me to bake. Okay...despite the rain, it's still 90 degrees so I'm not about to turn the oven on. But I do happen to have an Oreo cookie crust in the pantry and with a little imagination and basic staples in my fridge, came up with the following Raspberry Truffle Pie. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 Oreo cookie pie crust
1/4 c seedless raspberry All-Fruit, heated until liquid
1-1/2 c chocolate chips
1 c heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp butter

Pour melted raspberry All-Fruit into bottom of cookie crust. Combine remaining ingredients in bowl or saucepan. Heat until melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over raspberry layer. Chill about 4 hours in refrigerator.

Serve with whipped cream.

NOTE: I'd imagine any flavor All-Fruit would do, but since in this household we're allergic to strawberries and have a love affair with all things "razz," there was only one option for us.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Time for Another Excerpt: Kismet's Revenge

Kismet's Revenge is the second installment of the Kismet series and will be available from The Wild Rose Press next month. Meet Lucien St. Clair, a major in General Andrew Jackson's Tennessee Volunteers, and Marisa Alvarez, a Pensacola innkeeper who hides some a tragic past and vengeful secrets:

The lady neared their table, two tankards in hand. Ramon beckoned her with the crook of a gnarled finger.


Poisoned honey, Lucien thought. For all her sweetness in face and form, a lady as immoral as this one could destroy a man if she crept into his veins. But, oh, how she tempted! Her hair draped her face in silver mist. Apple green eyes danced with amusement. She wore a plain cotton gown spotted with colorful stains of various shapes and sizes. Regardless of her shabby apparel, she walked with the carriage of royalty. She smiled, warm and indulgent, and Lucien’s groin sat up to take notice.


“What are you about now, Ramon?” Her soft, lyrical voice only enhanced her ethereal qualities.


In truth, she had the features and stature of a delicate fairy. Yet, if he believed Ramon, this charming sprite spent her nights as mistress to a villain.


Ramon drew her forward, one hand cradling her slender waist. “Señores, may I present Señorita Marisa Álvarez, the proprietor of El Castillo de Plata?”


She placed the tankards on the table with an echoed thud. “Buenos días, señores. Bienvenido al Castillo de Plata.”


Swallowing his distaste, Lucien rose. He bent only enough to show manners, but no approval. “Muchas gracias.”


Ethan’s chair crashed to the floor as he scrambled to rise and take her hand. “I’m Ethan Greene, dear lady.” He kissed her fingertips. Hooded eyes simpered over her knuckles. “I do hope you speak English since I’m completely ignorant of your lovely tongue.”


The goddess exchanged a glance of impatience with Ramon, who shrugged. “And you, sir?” she asked Lucien in English.


“Lucien St. Clair.” Each barbed syllable stung his lips.


“The gentlemen have come from New Orleans on business,” Ramon said.


Her gaze settled on Lucien. “You’ll need rooms?”


“Yes.” In order to break the spell cast by her sultry eyes, he lifted a tankard and sipped cool ale. “If you have any available.”


“Of course.” She turned to a brawny bald man behind the counter. “Santos, ven aquí!”


On a series of eager nods, the brute strode around the bar. His heavy footfalls shook the tables and sloshed ale before he came to a halt beside her. “?”


Lucien bit back a smile at the contrast. The giant and the diminutive fairy.


“Would you show these gentlemen two rooms upstairs?”


“Marisa!” a drunken voice slurred. “Come be my good luck charm.”


“Excuse me.” She flashed an indulgent smile at a circle of soldiers dicing in the nearest corner and floated away as gracefully as she’d appeared.


“I leave you in capable hands, señores.” Ramon rose stiffly. “Santos will take care of your needs and see you’re made comfortable.” With one last smirk, he added, “La Venganza is a very lucky man, is he not?”


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gina is Writing!


That's been the status on my Yahoo account for the last forty-one weeks. Yes, kids. 41 weeks. What does this say? Well...either I don't use Yahoo a heckuva lot or I write a heckuva lot. Or maybe both?

The truth is Option 2. I write a heckuva lot. Like, every day. When I'm not writing, I'm editing, critiquing, or researching. I craft workshops and articles for my chapter mates at Dunes & Dreams. I troll bookstores and libraries to see what's selling, what's getting shelf space, and what's been sitting neglected for weeks.

I talk about writing, dream about writing, and apparently, blog about writing. So if you check my status on Yahoo periodically, I don't imagine it will change any time soon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Does Your Body Say About You?

Tonight, I'll be speaking to members of Dunes & Dreams (and guests!) at the Patchogue-Medford Library on the secrets of body language experts. Most of our facial expressions, gestures, and postures are involuntary--automatic. And each one tells a little something about the person.

Knowledge of basic body language, also known as kinesics, is imperative for anyone who intends to write about relationships. You and your mate can talk, but how do you know if the words truly reflect what (s)he feels?

At tonight's workshop, I'll take you from head to toe through the basics of body language and end up with a few details regarding romance (naturally) and male/female relationships.

Come on down, if you can. If you can't, contact me for info on booking this workshop near you!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy (Healthy) Anniversary!

Last year at this time, I had been suffering from a major sinus infection for seven months. Consultations with ENT specialists met with nothing more than new antibiotics, lots of scans, and no relief. I was facing major surgery, which would require a long recuperation period and lots of blood in my nose and throat. (Yummy.) Finally, Kismet intervened on my behalf.

While sitting in a doctor's waiting room before another CT scan, I saw an ad for the upcoming evening news. On the "health" feature, they planned to showcase a new procedure for sinus sufferers. I raced home before five o'clock to see this particular news program (a program I normally never watch!)

The procedure was called a balloon sinuplasty. Basically, a deflated balloon is inserted into the nasal passage and slowly inflated to break up the infection blocking the sinus cavity. At the time, only a handful of doctors were familiar with the procedure. Unlike normal sinus surgery, the procedure wasn't as invasive, had a much shorter recuperation period and patients had reported terrific results even five years after the surgery.

Sign me up! I started doing some online research, found two doctors in my area who could do the procedure. Doctor #1 scheduled an appointment for me in September. Oy. When I called Doctor #2's office, the receptionist said, "We had a cancellation this afternoon. Do you want that appointment?" Oh, boy, did I. I grabbed it, brought copies of my test results and CT scans with me and met the doctor that day. After telling me my CT scans were amazing (not in a good way), he assured me I was a candidate for the procedure. Within minutes of his exam, I had an appointment for surgery six days later, right before the 4th of July weekend, so I could take advantage of the extra days off for recuperation.

I came home the day of the surgery with a little packing in my nose to help stop the flow of blood. Two days later, I'd stopped repacking the area. On the third day, I was back to work and never looked back.

It's been a year since I had that balloon sinuplasty. And I haven't suffered from the chronic, debilitating headaches. I haven't had a cold. My allergies aren't bothering me this year. And I'd like to take today to thank everyone who intervened on my behalf. Best spur-of-the-moment decision I ever made!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Excerpt: The Bonds of Matri-money

BLURB: Renata Moon and Connell MacAllister lost more than a frivolous lawsuit in a Manhattan courtroom. Paying the settlement will probably force them to close their non-profit business. That is, until
they learn about a new survivalist game show set in exotic Bali. Grand prize: one million dollars. The catch? The show is for newlyweds.

Nothing that a quickie marriage--in name only--can't fix. But Renata and Connell didn't anticipate they'd be linked by handcuffs the entire time they're competing! Soon, spending days and nights with only a few inches of chain between them begins to stir feelings they never knew existed.

Before the competition ends, Renata and Connell will be forced to decide which means more to them: love or money.


Immediately upon reaching their destination, Bart Meadows announced the first challenge. “Each couple must pitch a tent for shelter. All tools required for the task are in the backpacks the men carry. You’ll have thirty minutes. Those who do not have a suitable structure erected in that time will be disqualified and sent to Home Base at the Summerhouse Hotel.” Holding a stopwatch in the air, he announced, “Ready? Set. Go.”


Renata turned to Connell, nervousness blending with perspiration to drip down her back. “Do you know how to pitch a tent?”

“Simple enough. I was a Boy Scout for years. First, we have to look around a bit. We need to find the right location.”

“How about over there?” She pointed to a nice, wide, flat piece of land beneath a low-hanging banyan tree. “Lots of shade and soft moss…”


“Nope. The ground is too flat.”

“I thought we wanted flat ground.” She tried to raise her hands to her hips, but the handcuff stopped her, and she settled for sarcasm to get her point across. “Or do you expect me to sleep on rocks for the next four weeks?”

“Forgive me, Princess. But ground that flat has been forced down from water. If it rains, we’ll be lying in the middle of a huge puddle. We need a place with a small crown.”

“Okay, sorry.” Whipping her head from side to side, she scanned the area as if she knew what to look for, and then finally gave up. “Um, Connell? What’s a crown?”


He shook his head and sighed. “You’ve never camped before, have you?”


“Up ‘til now, my idea of roughing it has been staying at a three star hotel instead of a four.”

His eyes moved from her apologetic shrug to the canopy of trees above them. “Fabulous. Just follow my lead, okay?”

“You got it.”

Within minutes, she regretted her acquiescence. He scanned the area like a dog sniffing out a convict, dragging her through two streams, over a hill and back before he found what he claimed was the perfect spot.

The tents provided by the television crew were standard camping issue, military green canvas attached to the ground with long stakes. It should have been easy for a carpenter with Connell’s golden reputation to erect a shelter in no time. After taking the stakes and a mallet out of his backpack, he pulled her down to her knees beside him and handed her an iron peg.


“Here.”

She turned it over, looking at it from several different angles before asking, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

With his free hand, he poked a hole in the soft ground. “Place the pointy end here and hold it tight. I’ll do the rest.”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m an idiot, okay?”

“Sorry.” His tone sounded remorseful, but the bemused grin he flashed said otherwise.

Biting her tongue, she stuck the pointy end of the stake into the hole and held it steady. Connell, with the mallet in his right hand as high as he could reach while on his knees, swung downward. Right smack dab on his left thumb.

“Dammit!”

“That’s what you get for acting so smug,” she told him, stifling a giggle.

“It isn’t funny, Renata. Look at this.” The nail hung from the side of his finger and bright red blood seeped through an open wound. Instantly, her nursing instincts took over.

“Take a break, Daniel Boone.” She plopped the stake on the ground. “We’ve gotta get that fixed right away.”

“I want to get the tent up first, Florence Nightingale,” he retorted. “If you don’t mind. It’s just a small cut, for God’s sake. It looks worse than it is.”

“Well, I do mind. And I’m not holding a single tent stake or doing anything else to help until you let me treat that thumb. In this part of the world you run the risk of infection, gangrene, or God-knows-what else if you’re not careful. How good a carpenter will you be with less than ten fingers?”

“Fine. Do that voodoo you do so well, but hurry up. I don’t want to lose the first challenge and wind up back at Home Base.”

Cupping her free hand to her mouth, she called, “I need the first aid kit over here!”

With a rustle of leaves, a skinny, dark-haired production assistant came bounding through the thick foliage carrying a little white case with a Red Cross emblazoned on its side. “Here you go.”

Renata took the case, her eyes never leaving Connell’s wound. “Thank you.” She opened the latch and pulled out a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, several cotton balls, and an adhesive bandage.

On second glance, the injury didn’t look as serious as she’d originally thought, but she’d never give him the satisfaction of admitting he was right. Instead she fussed as if it were life-threatening, taking care to only use a few drops of peroxide at a time and ignoring his hiss of breath as the liquid bubbled around the open cut. After blowing a bit of air through pursed lips, she dabbed the area with the cotton until the bleeding stopped, then placed the bandage around the injured digit. When she finished, she held it up, grinning with pride at her magnificent example of the healing arts. “There.”

“Done?” He held the thumb in front of his face, pushing his lips into a full pout and knitting his eyebrows to form a childish expression. “No kiss to make it all better?”

“No,” she said, yanking them to their feet and signaling the production assistant to remove the kit. “We have a tent to put up.”

“You think you can help now?”

“I’m going to have to.” She lifted her handcuffed wrist in the air, his naturally following suit. “Like it or not, you’re stuck with me for the next month.”

Connell picked up the mallet again, his cheeks heating. He liked being “stuck with” her. He liked it too much. He’d slammed his thumb because he’d been too distracted by her nearness, the smell of her, the sound of her voice, the thought that she stood no more than six inches from him and would probably remain there for the next thirty days.

Renata set the stake back in the ground as he raised the mallet above his shoulders.

“You ready?” he asked.

When he received her nod, he brought it down directly on the head of the stake. Sheer luck this time. Regardless of how hard he tried, his eyes strayed over her perfection, as if committing her to memory. Before lifting the mallet again, he took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow with his bare arm. How could he ever hope to survive the next four weeks handcuffed to her?

Good God, this coming month would kill him. Why couldn’t he be drawn to a woman who was drawn to him?


Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's Christmas in July!


Throughout this month, the author members (including moi) over at Romance Books R Us are participating in a special Christmas in July event. Stop over to check it out and you could be the proud owner of a brand spankin' new Sony E-Reader!

Join the Yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancebooksrus/ for your chance to win.

But...wait! There's more! Several authors (including moi) will be running our own contests to coincide with this special event.

For my lucky readers, I'll be giving away several prizes. Each time you comment on one of my blog posts this month, your name will be placed in a drawing for one of my books! (Limit: One entry per day please.) Books available will be: The Bonds of Matri-money, A Little Slice of Heaven, A Run for the Money, Kismet's Angel, and the not-yet-released Kismet's Revenge.

Or...

Suggest a song for my Music to Write By segment each week. One lucky winner will receive a pair of lovely pearl earrings.


Winners for my contests will be announced August 2, 2010, after my return from the RWA National Conference in Orlando.

Ho!Ho!Ho!