Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holi Hai!

Today is the festival of Holi in India.
Here's a little background that comes from my first historical romance and the first of the Kismet Series, Kismet's Angel:

“Do you know anything about Holi?”
“Daya told me it’s the Hindi festival of fire.”
“‘Tis true. Holi is based on the legend of Holika. The king of the demons, Hiranyakashipu, had a son named Prahlad. Despite his father’s evil bent, Prahlad was devoted to Vishnu and could not be swayed in his loyalties, even under the threat of death. Several times his father attempted to kill him, but Prahlad always survived through some miracle. Finally the demon king called upon his sister, Holika, for help. Holika suggested Prahlad sit on her lap in the center of a pyre. She would be protected from the fire by a magic shawl that rendered the wearer impervious to flame. Prahlad agreed to his father’s command but prayed to Vishnu for salvation. The moment the pyre was lit, the shawl flew from Holika to settle about Prahlad. Holika died in the fire, but Prahlad remained untouched. At Holi, we celebrate Holika’s death.”

...He turned, and a hard poof hit his chest. Red blossomed across his shirtfront. Glancing up from the stain, he discovered Uthman, color-streaked hands holding a mound of colored powder.
Bura na mano, Darian. Holi hai!”
Attempting to brush the powder away only spread the stain farther. “If those words mean anything besides ‘I’m sorry,’ I’m not interested in hearing them.”
Poof! The second red bomb hit with the same dusty explosion. The colorful artillery cut through the last vestige of fog in Darian’s head.
“Actually,” Uthman said with a grin wider than his girth, “it means, ‘Do not mind. Today is Holi.’”

For the briefest moment, Darian toyed with the idea of tossing Uthman overboard. Would the old salt mind a sudden bath in the bay?
As if following the trail of Darian’s thoughts, Ahmed leaned to whisper, “On Holi, all pranks are welcome if they are done in the spirit of fun.”

Holi is actually a celebration of good over evil. So is Kismet's Angel, a story about two extraordinary mortals, one determined goddess, and a destiny that only true love can fulfill. 

Kismet's Angel is available for $2.99 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or The Wild Rose Press.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

SHEroes Part III: Ruth Handler

Love her or hate her, there isn't a girl (or guy, for that matter) who doesn't know Barbie. Ruth Handler, creator of the iconic doll, came up with the idea while watching her daughter and friends playing with paper dolls. She noticed they didn't focus on the childish nature of the dolls, but on more adult themes of home and career. Ruth decided to design a grown up doll to help them visualize those themes. After the 1959 Toy Fair, Barbie and Mattel Toys became household names. 

Over the decades, despite her unattainable figure, Barbie has inspired girls to pursue their dreams, no matter if those dreams take young women into the corporate world or outer space.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

SHEroes Part II: Hedy Lamarr

And no, that's not "Hedley."

Next time you pick up your cell phone to make a call or access Google, you can thank this silent film star and sex symbol of the '30s and '40s for making the technology possible. 

As history tells the tale, Hedy's marriage to an Austrian weapons manufacturer, Fritz Mandl, hit the skids with lots of animosity built up between them. During their years together, she'd sat in on lots of business meetings where Fritz the Fascist attempted to devise ways to eavesdrop on or jam American radio signals for the Nazis' benefit. 

Not just a pretty face, Hedy had absorbed a lot of information during those dull meetings. So much so that she figured out if radio signals "hopped" or rapidly changed through a predetermined pattern known only to the sender and receiver, enemy spies could not figure out the message or intercept it.

Together with her friend, composer George Antheil, she filed a patent for her hopping radio frequency spectrum (which used player piano rolls to set up the patterns, hence her friend's expertise!). For years, the U.S. military ignored her recommendations, but after a decade or two, with the invention of transistors, they adapted its use with great success. 

Nowadays, that same frequency-hopping technology is used to enable cell phones, GPS, and WiFi. Hedy died in the year 2000, never really seeing the broad use of her genius and with the patent expired so that her estate received little or no monetary reward.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Feature: The Bonds of Matri-money

Love reality shows? How about a book that ties Survivor with The Newlywed Game and adds the challenge of handcuffed contestants? That's the idea behind my very first Avalon Books release, The Bonds of Matri-money, now re-released by Montlake Romance.

Check out the 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.

Here's a sample: A young dark-haired assistant handed Renata two small pieces of yellow cloth. “You’ll need these for this morning’s challenge, ma’am. You’re to change your clothing, and be at the lagoon in fifteen minutes. Understand?”
     “Yes, of course,” she murmured.
     With a nod, the assistant turned away from the tent.
     “What is it?” Connell asked her.
     She stared at the two scraps in her hand, then at the retreating back of the assistant, then back at her hand again. “I think it’s a bikini. They want me to wear a bikini now?”
     “It’s for a million dollars,” he reminded her quickly.
     She shook her head in dismay. “Am I that transparent?”
     “You are to me. But then again, I’d do anything short of murder to see you in that getup. Something tells me you’re gonna look fantastic.”
He gave her a wolfish smile, indicative of their teammate Roger’s antics, and she laughed despite her discomfort. His attitude always lightened her mood when problems cropped up in this game. She wondered if he handled concerns in the real world with the same aplomb and skewed bit of humor he used here. His was a refreshing change from her old worry wart behavior. But she refused to pursue that avenue at the moment.
“So? You gonna put it on, or are we giving up already?”
She twirled a finger at him. “Turn around. Just because you gained my quick cooperation in wearing this dental floss doesn’t mean you get a sneak preview.”
“Hot dog! She’s gonna put it on.”
He clapped his hands as he spun around. The minute his back faced her, she stripped off her shorts and panties. As she knelt to pull them off her ankles, he instinctively followed her movements without turning around. She then slid into the tiny string bikini bottoms and tugged them up, Connell’s movements mirroring her own.
She never feared he might peek at her while she was vulnerable and exposed. He was too much of a gentleman for that, and she knew it. Strange how constant proximity had given them a newfound respect for one another. Thinking of how far they’d come in such a short time filled her with pride, and she smiled before turning her attention to the bikini top.
She managed to untie the halter, but tying the bra with only one hand proved too much for her to handle. “Um, Connell?”
     “I know,” he said, still facing the canvas walls around them. “You turn around, and I’ll tie you up.”
She giggled. “Sorry. It just sounds so ridiculous.”
“Never mind,” he growled. “Turn around.”
She did so. When his hands grasped at the strings of the bra, she released her hold and lifted her hand to scoop her hair off her neck. The strings tightened around her nape first, then the middle of her back. His fingertips brushed against her flesh like feathers, light and ticklish, and she shuddered.
“Don’t tell me you’re cold.”
“God, no! In this heat? Why on earth would you think that?”
His warm breath danced across her bare shoulder, converging with her own flush of embarrassment. Instant and overpowering fire flooded her from head to toe. The humid weather must have caused her reaction. If she stayed here a year, she’d never become accustomed to the tropical heat. It crushed her inch by inch, leaving her gasping for every breath she took.
“All done,” he announced. “Are you okay? I thought I felt you shiver.”
Dropping her hair down, she took a step away from him, as far as the handcuffs would allow.  “Well, you didn’t.” She couldn’t look at him when she told the lie. 

The Bonds of Matri-money is available at Amazon.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SHEroes Part I: Dolley Madison

March is Women's History Month. So let's talk SHEroes. Not heroines, like in romance novels and cozy mysteries. SHEroes. Women who have changed history, gone toe-to-toe with greatness, and made the world a better place simply by using their strengths for the greater good. Over the next few weeks, I'll introduce you to historical ladies I admire. My personal list of SHEroes.

Today, I want to tell you about Dolley Madison. No, not the ice cream. The first First Lady. The wife of President James Madison. Dolley was a woman of great wit and intelligence, a charming hostess, and her husband's closest political adviser. When the Madisons first arrived in Washington, Thomas Jefferson was president and a widower. Dolley became his social hostess for all state affairs. After her husband's inauguration, she continued these duties, making every guest feel welcomed, remembered, and important.

During James Madison's presidency, he often discussed matters of state with Dolley and listened to her counsel. Her patronage was sought by private citizens and politicians because it was well known how much her husband respected her opinions. 

Dolley is probably best known for saving the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, along with many of the country's important papers, when the British burned down the White House during the War of 1812. But it was Zachary Taylor, at her funeral, who coined her, "the First Lady of the land," the first time that title was used to describe a president's wife. She was also the first presidential wife to become involved with local charities and organizations dedicated to social issues of the time. She held weekly "drawing rooms," which were enormously popular with local politicians and socialites. 

After her husband's death, Dolley was assigned an honorary seat in the House of Representatives.

Sadly, Dolley died in poverty, beholden to friends and neighbors for charity, thanks to the excessive gambling debts and spending habits of her son from her first marriage. She received a state funeral, with all government businesses closed for the day, so that mourners could grieve her loss. 

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wanna Do Something Daring?

Hop on over to the ScribBLING Divas blog today to find out what I'm considering next!

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ta-Da! New Cover Reveal! (With a Teaser)

Chasing Adonis is now available on other platforms besides Amazon, so to celebrate, my Greek mythology romance has a new cover. 

Isn't it pretty? I want to thank Self-Pub Book Covers for all their talented artists and sales reps who have been so good to me. If you're an author looking for a cover, take a look at what they have to offer. They're a great group of people to work with.

Need a teaser to entice you to buy and read the book? Okay. How 'bout this?

“Let’s get a few things straight, Shane.” Unfolding her legs, she climbed off his lap and stood over him, hands resting on her hips. Despite the blond hair cascading down her flesh, naked, her breasts heaving, she more closely resembled the warrior princess than Rapunzel. “In the first place, you didn’t take advantage of me. If anything, I took advantage of you.”

“How do you figure that?”

She sighed and sat on the edge of the coffee table. “For the last three days—no, correction—for the last two years, I’ve lived like a Ping-Pong ball. Ever since that bastard killed Terry, some invisible paddles have been bouncing me around wherever they please. Even after Cherry was put away, I still found myself looking over my shoulder, waiting for something to happen. I always knew he’d find a way to reach me again. Now, with you tonight, I gained back something I’ve missed for so long…”

“An orgasm?”

“No, you fool,” she said with a light laugh. “Control. I gained back control of my life. Even if it was for just a little while. From the moment I sat down out here beside you, I made the decisions. I decided to make love with you. I kissed you first.”

“No, you didn’t. I kissed you.”

She shook her head. “If it soothes your masculine pride to think so, fine. But I let you kiss me. And everything else that just happened between us—from the minute I pressed my thigh against you to this minute right here and right now—happened because I allowed it. I wanted to make love with you. I allowed it. And…I…don’t…regret…it.”

“Well, I do. I’m sworn to protect you. The last thing either of us needs right now is the distraction of a love affair.”

“Who said this was a love affair? We’re two people who reached out to one another in a moment of need.”

He shook his head. “This can’t happen again, Adara.”

“Why? Are you afraid I’ll fall in love with you or something?” His solemn expression confirmed that was exactly what he feared, and she leaned back on her hands, laughing. “Don’t sweat it, Shane. I promise not to fall in love with you, okay? I’ll never fall in love with any man.”

“Oh? How can you be so sure? I mean, it’s not like you’re a devout lesbian.” Blazing eyes ran up and down her nude figure, making her blush with memories of the last half-hour’s activities. “At least I don’t think so anyway.”

If he meant to get a rise out of her with that crack, he was in for a rude awakening. She giggled instead and reached for her T-shirt where it lay amid a puddle of clothing on the floor. Best to put up some shields before revealing anything more. “I’m as hetero as you are. I just don’t ever intend to fall in love, that’s all.” She tossed him his pants and briefs. “Here. Put these on before your mama comes out and sees what we’ve been up to.”

His face blanched as white as an almond, and he quickly slid into his underwear. “And you think you can control it? Falling in love, I mean?”

Wriggling into her shorts, she exhaled a puff of air to blow a stray wisp of hair out of her face. “I saw what it did to my mother when my father deserted us. I know what it did to me. I won’t let myself fall for that ‘happily ever after’ crap. No matter what men may say between the sheets, I’ve learned they don’t stick around when times get tough.”

Chasing Adonis is now available at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo for $3.49. I hope you'll pick up a copy and let me know if you enjoyed it!

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