Sunday, May 31, 2009

Aspen Exposé -- Group Novel -- Chapter 5




Chapter 5



There’s a fine line between “ignorance is bliss” and “knowledge is power.” I have to wonder where exactly I fall along that line.



~Tami Brothers



Rachel blew out an irritated sigh as she ducked
into the ladies’ rest room. Who knew acting could be
this draining? She’d originally doubted Jack’s claim
that he wanted his personal life to look stable in
front of the board. After the last hour of being ogled
like a cow at the state fair while he paraded her
around the room, she didn’t doubt that claim any
longer. In fact, she had to marvel at Jack’s
ingenuity.

At first she’d felt honored and a bit dazzled that
he’d asked her. She knew the usual women he dated
were gorgeous model types. Being placed in this
category would do wonders for any woman’s selfesteem.
In fact, she’d almost convinced herself his
intentions couldn’t be all that bad.

Now, after winning the best in show award from
the board, she could see why Jack had chosen her.
She was safe. Not only was she unlike the sexy,
slinky, all-I-can-get-from-a-man kind of woman Jack
normally went for, but she could actually carry on an
intelligent conversation. She knew this business,
and, unlike most of the trophy wives she’d met
tonight, she was able to discuss the ins and outs of
Mira Technologies like a pro. Those qualities had
apparently given the impression that Jack wasn’t in
this relationship just for the physical aspects of it,
exactly what Jack had planned to accomplish.

Hearing a noise at the door, Rachel stepped into
one of the bathroom stalls to keep from having to
jump back into character. As soon as she heard the
voices, she was thankful she had.

“Did you see that dress? Who in their right mind
would pair that fabric with those shoes? Karen
would die if she could see what he’s trying to pass off
as her replacement.”

“I’m not going to be the one to tell her, but I
hope I’m there when she finds out.” The giggles that
followed this comment were like nails on a chalk
board as they clawed up Rachel’s spine. “Hand me
that lipstick.”

“Sure. Can you imagine him bringing his
secretary? You’d think he would have picked better,
though. A plain Jane if I ever saw one. I can’t believe
I’m stuck entertaining her tomorrow.”

“Boring. I’m glad it’s you and not me.”
These last words were barely audible as the two
women left. Rachel let out a breath she hadn’t
realized she’d been holding as she slowly stepped out
of the stall. What the hell had she been thinking?
She did not have to take this kind of crap for
someone who was turning out to be the kind of man
her mother warned her about.

She had to get out of here. Casually glancing up
and down the hallway as she stepped out of the
ladies’ room, she couldn’t stop herself from taking a
quick peek into the dining area. Thankfully, Jack
was engrossed in a conversation with one of the
board members.

Hoping to make a clean escape, she strolled to
the lobby and gritted her teeth when she found the
front desk empty. She needed to contact a taxi to
take her into town.

A familiar giggle far too close for comfort had
her looking for a quick escape. “Where did you get
those?” Allison and her cohort were admiring
another woman’s earrings.

Pushing open the glass front doors, the frigid
cold blasted her as she stepped behind one of the
large wooden pillars that gave this resort its rustic
feel. Hugging her arms around her body in an
attempt to hold in some heat, she peeked inside the
building.

“Ms. Livingston?”

Spinning around, Rachel couldn’t help but curse
her new Manolos as one of the four-inch spikes
skidded on a patch of ice. Squeezing her eyes shut,
she waited for the impact. Instead of cold concrete,
she let out a strangled yelp when a pair of solid arms
stopped her fall. Eyes flying open, she found herself
staring into the warmest pair of chocolate brown
eyes she’d ever seen.

What the heck? Why was her heart racing and
her previously freezing limbs suddenly tingling with
a strange sensation spreading its poison through her
body? If she didn’t know any better, she’d think she
was attracted to this man. But that would just be
plain fruitcake crazy. He could be a serial killer.

“Ms. Livingston, are you okay?”

Okay, so the serial killer knew her name. What
did that mean? “Um. I think...I mean, yes...I am.”

A sexy grin drew her attention away from his
eyes. Oh boy. If she thought his eyes did strange
things to her, then those lips were downright
causing her heart to go into cardiac arrest.

“I‘d better put you down then. Your friends
might come looking for you and I’m sure you don’t
want them seeing you fraternizing with the help.”

Allison! That girl was really starting to tick her
off. The cold suddenly returned with a vengeance as
Rachel’s current dilemma came crashing back to the
forefront. Glancing in through the glass windows,
she saw the empty lobby and breathed a sigh of
relief. “Those women are definitely not my friends.”

“Really?” He asked this as he settled her back on
her feet, his hands remaining on her arms as she
steadied herself.

“Definitely not. Unfortunately, I would be one of
those people they consider the help.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed that, especially since
you came in with Mr. Davenport.”

Rachel glanced at him and it was then she
realized this mystery man was the attendant who
had taken Jack’s keys when they first arrived. That
ruled out serial killer. Maybe.

Shaking her head, Rachel took a step back,
immediately missing the warmth from the man’s
hands when they fell away. “Yes, well, looks can be
deceiving.” She shot another look at the lobby and
groaned. Still empty. Turning to the Matthew
McConaughey look-a-like, she attempted a smile.

“You wouldn’t know how I might catch a taxi, would
you?”

“You’re leaving us?” The man frowned as Rachel
nodded. “If you wait a moment, I could get Mr.
Davenport and have him take you—”

“No!” When the man raised his eyebrows, Rachel
realized she’d just shouted the word. “Please don’t
interrupt Mr. Davenport. I’d rather he didn’t know.”

“This is quite sudden.”

Rachel shot another glance into the lobby as she
mumbled under her breath, “You don’t know the half
of it.”

“Listen, Rachel. I need to talk you out of leaving
right now.”

The sound of her first name caught Rachel’s
attention and she turned back to the attendant.

“Excuse me. Do I know you?”

“Tom Gardner. Now you know me, so I think you
and I need to talk.”

The sudden chill that raced up Rachel’s spine
had nothing to do with the cold Aspen night or the
instant attraction she was feeling for this perfect
stranger. What caught her attention was the serious
note in the man’s voice and the gold badge he was
holding up. A sense of dread washed over her as she
wondered what the hell she’d gotten herself into now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Question for Chapter 5

For what fashion faux pas, did Karen criticize Rachel?

a) big hair

b) costume jewelry

c) wrong color for evening

d) wrong fabric paired with her shoes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for stopping by today. Be sure to answer the question in your comment.

What's Up for the First Week of June on PFHT?

It's June and we have a new theme -- Brides and Weddings! Can't wait to see what our creative bloggers have to say. Here's our lineup for week one:

Monday, June 1: Sally Kilpatrick My Big Fat Wedding Post
Tuesday, June 2: Ana Aragon
Wednesday, June 3: Tamara DeStefano
Thursday, June 4: Cynthia Hamer-Omey
Friday, June 5: Guest Chef: Lisa Hendrix

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Saturday Review





Twisted Creek

Author Jodi Thomas

ISBN 978-0425-22081
Bad luck has been biting at Allie Daniel's heels all her life, so when she inherits a café in a small Texas lake community she's sure there's a catch. But Allie decides to move and brings her grandmother along, since the café gives Nana a chance to do what she loves best-cook. As Allie settles in, she soon discovers that she's not alone anymore-and that sometimes, the only cure for bad luck is gaining the courage to love.
Allie is the poster-girl for bad luck. Her mother left her on the steps of her grandmother’s house and never looked back. She and Nana have always scraped by, barely, then “Uncle Jefferson”, that neither Nana nor Allie know, leaves Allie the café and store .

It is easy to love the quirky misfits that live there. No one knows for sure why Luke is there and Allie soon realizes he is wondering the same about her. Is she involved in Jefferson’s death? Allie doesn’t trust him either, but is fascinated with him and finds an attraction like none she’s known.

The two plots were intriguing and I loved the book so much, I immediately read it a second time – totally unlike me.

Reviewed by: Maxine Davis
Rating: 5 Petit Fours & 1 Hot Tamale

WE HAVE A WINNER!

Thank you so much to everyone who dropped by to leave a comment and Thank You So Much, Eloisa James for being our guest!

Our winner is: Gannon Carr

Gannon, if you'd send your snail mail to me at the address below, we'll get it to Eloisa.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Sandra__E@Bluebottle.com

Friday, May 29, 2009

We Welcome NY Times Bestselling Author, the Fantastic Eloisa James


New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Sex After the Seventeenth Book

I know the title of this blog sounds like a depressing pamphlet that you hope not to receive from the AARP. Open it up, and you’ll find yourself deep in an article on the benefits of little blue pills and gauzy scarves thrown over lamps.

While I’m thankfully still a long way from AARP membership, I sympathize! There are times when a writer simply thinks, been there. And: I am so DONE with that! Except here comes another contract, and another hero and heroine, and they want their sex life. …I’m simply not sure that I’m up for another spell of screaming pleasure as Slot A joins Slot B.

So this blog is about how a writer renews her own interest in writing this most difficult type of scene. There are three important rules I try to remember:


A). The scene must be germane to the story—in short, the reason why the sex works for them has to grow from their individual personalities, from the growth they’ve made during the novel. No instant, perfect sex in my novels. It’s not like that in life, and it’s remarkably tedious to read on the page. One of the worst things a writer can do, imo, is suddenly drop the personalities of her two characters and morph them into shiny, moaning sex machines. Sex is the most intimate thing two people do, and therefore the most revealing. Remember that!

In my current release, This Duchess of Mine, Jemma and Elijah married years ago, only to separate and live on different continents for years. They had an OK sex life for the brief weeks they were together – but nothing to write home about. I needed to face that head on. This was sex that had backstory.

B) Remember that tenderness is as sexy as actual sex. As readers, we want to go well beyond the bedroom door. But we want it all: the wildness and the sweetness. Not to wander into tmi territory, but intimacy increases intimacy. We love our spouse more the next day, frankly. Remember that too!

Elijah and Jemma have a broken marriage – while they learn to give each other a lot of pleasure, they need to love and forgive as well. Those moments are as important as the wild boinking.

C) And finally, who says it all has to happen in bed? Or on the desk, for that matter? One thing I’ve found is that creating the setting that’s essential to an intimate act makes it more interesting for my characters, myself, and my readers.

In This Duchess of Mine, Jemma takes Elijah to a neglected, tumbled-down Roman bath. The ensuing scenes? Some of my favorites, in all seventeen books: a joy to write, and (I hope) a lot of fun to read as well. So there’s my final thing to remember – change it up!

I’ve got two questions for you: what’s your favorite unusual setting that you remember from a romance – and what’s one that you wish you’d read? Maybe someone can help me out here. I remember an Amanda Quick (or Judith Ivory?) with a huge barrel of rose petals… great fun! How about you?

Leave an answer to Eloisa's post or a general comment and be entered to win a copy of the signed hardback UK edition of Desperate Duchesses.

To learn more about Eloisa and her wonderful historicals, visit her website at www.eloisajames.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Break Into Fiction®

My work in progress was suffering from a severe case of the missing middle recently. I knew how it opened and how it ended. It was everything else between the two that was not coming together for me. So I broke out my Break Into Fiction® materials. These materials consist of a series of templates used to develop a book. The questions on the templates forced me to dig deep into my characters, their goals, motivations and conflicts. My imagination was also stretched so that I thought of unique ways to solve plot problems. Now I'm unstuck and working again.

I’m firmly convinced that the Break Into Fiction® templates can help any writer whether they are plotters or not. Think of the templates as another critique partner who sits down with you to brainstorm and ask those tough questions.

I first became aware of Break Into Fiction® when I attended a weekend workshop hosted by Dianna Love Snell and Mary Buckham. It was an intense weekend of learning how to use their system and digging deep into a book I was working on at the time. Dianna and Mary went on to publish their program in a book called Break Into Fiction®.

The following blurb from the book’s back cover describes Break Into Fiction® best:

“Based on their popular seminars, award-winning novelist Mary Buckham and Dianna Love have created a writing system that anyone can follow. Their innovative Power Plotting method shows how to create stories of depth, excitement and emotion with:

- Easy-to-understand templates that guide new writers through building a novel and show more experienced writers how to elevate their first draft.

- Simple worksheets that help build a strong story one step at a time for any fiction genre.

- Troubleshooting tips that reveal how to identify and fix holes that weaken plot.”

So if you are like me and get stuck periodically or need to add depth to your book, pick up a copy of their book. It is one of those must haves for your writing bookshelf right along with Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

If you are thinking about attending one of Dianna and Mary’s workshops, check out the review Sandra Elzie, another workshop attendee, and I created based on our weekend experience. You can find the Power-Punch Your Next Novel article on my web site.

Dianna and Mary have also cooked up another exciting event called Five for Five. This is where multi-genre top authors Sherrilyn Kenyon, Tess Gerritsen, Ed Gaffney, Suzanne Brockmann, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Lisa Gardner, Susan Wiggs...and so many more share tips on writing the week of June 8-12, 2009. Check out the Break Into Fiction® web site to learn more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Winner from Karen White's visit with Petit Fours

Sorry for the winning post delay, folks. Fortunately, it is never too late to give away books!

Our winner for Karen White's books, AFTER THE RAIN and THE LOST HOURS:

Belinda Peterson

Congratulations, Belinda. Please send your snail mail address to dlkaufman@bellsouth.net

THE OTHER BOOKS I WANT TO WRITE


Have you ever read the New York Times bestseller list and wondered, “How the hell did she make it on there?” And no, I’m not talking about authors who actually deserve a permanent spot there. I’m talking about c-list celebrities and the questionable wisdom they have to impart in book form. It is truly unfair. As aspiring authors, we toil at our craft day in and day out, but yet some driveling Hollywood starlet can land a 6-7 figure book deal by the mere fact she’s a frequent topic on TMZ. And then she writes some dumb memoir—with an army of co-authors—about her daily struggles in the Fred Segal checkout lines and her Botox gone awry. Now she looks like a Vulcan. So what.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be a celebrity. As many of you know, I don’t have the verbal restraint to lead a public life anyway … but I do admit to envying celebrity book deals. (I also envy their admission into prestigious universities as well as their free swag, but that’s another blog).

First of all, I want a long career writing historical romance and I’d like it to be modeled after Eloisa James (our illustrious guest chef this Friday). She’s completely original in that she turned romance on its head with her ensemble casts spanning multiple books. What’s more, she writes the most lovable and interesting women in the genre. Period. I adore her. She's one of the most talented, generous and accessible authors I know. *pause here for fangirl frothing* But while I do not even come close to James’ prodigious abilities, I can’t help thinking that if I were a ding dong celeb, I’d already be on my way with my skills as they stand now.

If I were a celebauthor, I’d throw my fame around and demand the opportunity to write other kinds of books, in addition to romance. I’d want to write a book on what to expect when you get a boy. Growing up in a family of girls, you can imagine my hourly bewilderment in the raising of a child with testosterone. After all this time doing so, I have discovered boys are a different species. So as a means of motherly catharsis, I’d like to write a book with chapters on Property Depreciation, Boogers and Things You Thought You’d Never Say (for example, “Don’t lick the couch”--and yes, I've said that).

I’d also like to write a spiritual memoir in the style of Elizabeth Gilbert’s EAT, PRAY, LOVE. Tremendous book. If only I could hit that perfect balance of vulnerability, self-effacement and humor.

I’d also like to pen a collection of essays, maybe even a collection of blog posts, a la the Carrie Bradshaw character in SEX IN THE CITY. My collection, however, would range in topics from Family to Laundry, Travel to Cooking (possible chapter title: Always Add More Garlic).

The other book I’d like to write is a toilet book--the sort that will engage a reader for the brief duration they’re occupied with ... uh ... stuff. As I have absolutely NO short-term memory, I list copiously, so I’d like to have a book of lists. It doesn’t sound that interesting, but I once read the glorious PILLOW BOOK by Sei Shonagan, a lady-in-waiting to an 11th century Chinese empress. In addition to chapters detailing her daily life, there were many chapters of simple lists. Rare Things, Embarrassing Things, Splendid Things. Here’s a taste.

29. Elegant Things:
A white coat worn over a violet waistcoat.
Duck eggs.
Shaved ice mixed with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl.
A rosary of rock crystal.
Wisteria blossoms. Plum blossoms covered with snow.
A pretty child eating strawberries.

Gorgeous, isn’t it? But since I cannot even come close to that kind of verbal ballet, my list would go something like this:

1. Good Names for Animals:
Phillip – cat
Raul – not to be used obviously, like on a Chihuahua
Kevin – cat or dog
Henri Robert (with a silent “t”) – big lummoxy dog
Octobird – should be used obviously

That’s appropriate bathroom material, isn’t it?

Now how about you? Other than romance of course, what other books would you like to write?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Naked Man . . . and Other Gifts From My Mother

Motherly wisdom. The defense of a genre (again). And, of course, some full frontal male nudity.

by Nicki Salcedo


Life Lessons

I learned a lot from my mother when I was a kid. I still learn a lot from her, but my favorite memory and lesson occurred while watching the movie A Room with a View. I was maybe ten years old, and it was just my mom and me. At some point during the movie, several of the male characters decided to take a dip in a swimming hole. They all got completely buck naked, including the young actor Julian Sands and the not so young actor who played the part Reverend. They were naked men. I was an embarrassed ten year old girl. I always thought I was a cool kid, but I wasn’t. I was mortified. My mother, on the other hand, was not scandalized. I always considered her very reserved. That is until she said, “Why do they have to show the old guy?” She said it in a matter of fact way. She did not smile. Her comment surprised me as much as the nudity. My mom was making a joke about naked men? My mom thought naked men were okay? I learned two lessons.

  • Humor goes a long way to make others feel comfortable
  • There is nothing wrong with a naked man

Romance

I recently participated in a discussion with some women on the topic of a Disney book called Happily Ever After, a compilation of princess stories about love and friendship. These women were concerned that their daughters should not read stories where the focus is finding a prince. It was a lively discussion that happens with mothers everywhere. As a romance writer and reader, I found the topic particularly interesting.


One, the real intent of Disney stories (and romance novels in fact) is not to find romance at all. This is something any romance reader or writer knows. Cinderella was not looking for a prince, but an escape from an abusive matriarch. Belle wanted more than the ordinary and found herself in a situation where she had to save her father. Mulan went to war. Sleeping Beauty wanted an end to her isolation. She was devastated to find out that she had to be married (and to a prince no less). I’ve never seen a romance where the heroine wakes up one morning and says, “I’d like to fall in love today.” But now that I’ve said that, I feel that I have issued a challenge to myself to write that story. I suspect the last thing that character will find is love.


Two, in “man movies” there are inevitably ridiculous romance sub-plots that no one finds objectionable. The Lion King was also a love story. But I don’t recall hearing anyone being concerned that Simba fell in love with Nala. Any self respecting male would not fall in love while trying to avenge his father’s death! . . . . Or would he? Is romance just a by product of life? I would suggest yes. We cannot reject or deny its presence.


Nudity

We all aren’t meant to like romance novels. We all aren’t meant to appreciate nudity. I was fifteen when I came back from my first trip to Europe, and my cousin commented on how many pictures I took of Michelangelo’s David. Being my mother’s child, I responded that I took an equal number of photos of Michelangelo’s La Pietà. Everyone notices David because he is naked. David is also 20 feet tall. What is there not to love about a 20 foot tall naked man? On the other hand, La Pietà goes unnoticed. This sculpture is the most achingly painful depiction of love I’ve ever seen. It tells a story. Romance novels are not stories about love or sex or nudity. Romance novels are about times in life when love seems most improbable, but is most needed.


As we near the end of May and our celebration of mothers, I thought La Pietà was a fitting tribute. I hope we can reflect on our mothers with the levity and soberness they deserve. I also hope my mom forgives my tribute to her in the section called Nudity!


Mommy Dearest, really

I’ve always read romance novels. I blame this on my mother who read avidly, but read so few romance novels. Around the same time that I watched A Room with a View, a friend of my mother brought over a box of Harlequin Romance novels. The books were for my mother and yet she didn’t read one. It wasn’t her thing, but I read every last book. Some might find it objectionable that my mother let me read those books at that age, but she did not worry about me. She trusted me as child. A lot of what I understand about love came from reading romance novels. I learned what I did and did not find acceptable behavior from both heroes and heroines. How many times have you read a book and just wanted to shout at the characters for being inane? For keeping their secrets too long? For the heroine choosing the wrong man, when the right man was right before her eyes? I’ve made many “notes to self” as I read the pages of a romance novels.


The irony is that my mother always wanted me to be more feminine. She wanted me to wear dresses. She thought it would be nice if I wore a little make-up. I'm sure she was more concerned that I was obsessed with being Sigourney Weaver in Alien. Reading romance novels was probably one of the more normal things I did as a kid.


I wish my girls liked to wear jeans, but they only want to wear dresses. Pink dresses. My girls want to be princesses. I let them be who they want to be. They will probably hate romance novels just to spite me! I'm not worried about that. What else can a mother do but be the gentle guiding voice that children ignore.


Now when my mother wants a book to read she asks me for suggestions. I am a book whisperer by the way. I blame her for this and all of my idiosyncrasies. Sometimes I pick a romance novel for her. Sometimes I pick something else. I try to choose the books wisely. After all, we haven’t spoken about naked men since I was ten.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poppies in my Garden of Love

Poppies in my Garden of Love



We’ve had a plethora of tributes to Mom this month, so I’m going to plant another group in our Garden of Love, a group who has given or continues to give their all for our safety and well-being. Of course, being that today is Memorial Day, you can guess of whom I speak.

Our gallant heroes of the Armed Forces have kept our country and our lives safe and free to pursue the happiness declared in the Declaration of Independence since the 1700’s. Only when the War Between the States ended in the 1860’s did we decide to officially honor the war dead. Today, I hope that honor extends to those still living and to those still serving in our nation’s military units.

Many towns lay claim to the origination of a memorial day and the official proclamation came by General John A. Logan and was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of the Union and Confederate dead at Arlington National Cemetery. Individual states were slow to recognize it, but honoring our military is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May.

My childhood memories include parades in my small hometown and war veterans passing out poppies for everyone to pin on their lapel or blouse. I didn’t know why at the tender age of less than eight; I just thought the red flower was pretty and loved wearing one. The significance came from a poem “In Flanders Fields”, where Moina Michael, in 1915, wrote her own poem in reply:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then birthed the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day. Just before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW started nationally selling poppies.

Other times in my life, I’ve attended the Changing of the Guard and watched as they lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. It is truly a touching ceremony. Not even in church, have I heard the complete and utter silence this ritual brings.

Today and for the last few years, the Hall County Sheriff’s Department here in Gainesville, Georgia holds a ceremony honoring one of our local service people who has gone above and beyond the call of duty during their time in service. There are speakers, prayers, the singing of our National Anthem and many thanks for a job well done. Members of the Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard stage their own version of the Changing of the Guard and Watch similar to the one at Arlington. They do this formal procedure for a 24-hour period beginning at midnight on Memorial Day. Another stirring sight to watch that brings chills to one’s spine and prayers of thanks that we live in the United States of America.

I hope we all take a moment today to remember those who have given all they had to give – their lives – and those who still protect us today, that we might enjoy the freedom of picnics, parades, and partying with friends and loved ones.

Please join with me and list in your comment, friends and relatives, living or deceased who have served for us in the military. And share with us how you celebrate.

I watch our local parade, attend the Honor Service for local Veterans, watch my son participate in the Honor Guard ceremony, then swim and cook out with my family. In the evening, I will attend a concert given by the Northwinds Symphonic Band.

My personal military heroes:

John Barnett – great-great-grandfather – Confederate Army – War Between the States
Raphael Barnett -- father – US Army – World War II
Mac McConnell – cousin – US Navy – Career
Thomas Alexzulian – former student and pen pal – US Marines
Jim Hart – classmate – US Army – Vietnam
Leon Ellis – hometown acquaintance – US Army – POW Vietnam

Barry Ladd -- friend -- Gulf War
Seth Strickland -- son of a friend -- serving in Iraq

May God bless each and every military personnel and their families.

CiCi



Sunday, May 24, 2009

Aspen Exposé -- Group Novel -- Chapter 4


Chapter Four



When you play with the devil, expect some fire.




~ by CiCi Barnes



Rachel twisted and turned in front of the mirror,checking every conceivable angle of her body. Three-quarter-length sleeves of her red linen dress hid her upper arms and a brand new pair of Spanx contained her belly and love handles. Her cleavage, thanks to the plunging, underwire push-up bra, stood ready to attract attention. Dazzling white teeth heightened her smile.
The show could now begin. Yeah, the three-ring circus, starring scheming Jack Davenport and his faithful side-kick, Rachel, the clown. What had she been thinking when she’d agreed to this?
Obviously, not anything ethical. She should march right in there and tell Jack where he could put his five thousand dollars and his prepared homework.

She did one more turn, catching the slim view of her backside and the shine of her perfectly coiffed hair. Why waste a good spa treatment and the coming sumptuous meal? Tomorrow was as good as today.

She sauntered into the room in her new four-inch Manolo Blahniks, hoping she’d meet Jack’s high standards. Even though she shouldn’t care.

Jack stood, his back to her, in the middle of the room, deep in conversation on his cell phone.

“Yes, Marshall, that sounds like a plan. We’ll talk about it tonight. Yes. Yes.” He flipped the phone closed and turned. The device immediately clattered to the floor.

His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down while his eyes pinned her to the wall behind her.
Holding her breath, she tried to decide if his reaction was good or bad.

“You ... you look great!”

His tone said he never expected her to come close to great. To be honest, she didn’t expect it either.

“Thanks. The same to you.” His dark suit and smoky tie against a crisp white shirt heightened his heart-stopping good looks.

He leaned over to retrieve his phone then approached her with bent arm. She slid her hand to the crook in his elbow and braced herself for the evening, not sure she could make it through without blurting out something that would blow this whole charade. Jack’s smile melted her thought. Oh, he was good. Now she wasn’t even sure where the charade began and ended.

Downstairs, the maitre d’ ushered them through a maze of elegantly appointed tables to a window overlooking the slopes. Marshall Van Buren hadn’t arrived yet.

“Champagne,” Jack said to the waiter.

Rachel tried to hide the quick cringe. Great. Now she was in trouble. Champagne made her giggle and a giggling school girl was not the impression she wanted to give tonight. Too much hung in the balance. She needed to decifer the different faces that made up
Jack Davenport. Resisting the one she currently
witnessed would be the biggest challenge. The one
that looked at her as if she were a chocolate bar and he a starving man. The one that left her knees weak and her nerves on edge.

Just this morning she was hoping the ‘business’weekend would turn into what that look promised. But after the run in with Marshall Van Buren, she wasn’t so sure she wanted anything to do with the vindictive Jack she’d just seen back in their hotel room. He was definitely not the man she’d been drooling over for months. Now she wondered who this guy actually was and if, after this crazy weekend, she would have a job when she returned home.

“Smile, Rachel. We’re on.” The hushed voice drew her attention away from the magnificent view outside the windows. Jack rose from his seat as Marshall and a woman who looked half his age walked up.

“Allison. Nice to see you again.”

Rachel pasted on a smile, trying to look the part Jack hired her to play as the other woman embraced him. Not really sure what was expected of her, she stood. The move allowed her to see the covert squeeze Allison gave Jack’s backside before pulling back. The
woman was exactly Jack’s type: tall, lithe, blonde, and
with boobs spilling out of a dress obviously not made
for that particular size. The look that quickly passed
between them spoke of a familiarity that was far more
than just a friendly greeting.

“Jack, you devil. How have you been? I can’t believe you haven’t gone completely mad with all this cold.”

“It’s not so bad once you get used to it.” The easy jovial tone was back and Rachel couldn’t help but feel her skin crawl at the switch.

“If you’re an Eskimo maybe. Why don’t you come back to Texas where you belong?”

“Because he’s too ambitious for Texas, sweet thing.” Marshall spoke with his usual easy tone; one that Rachel had come to expect in the two years she’d worked with Mira Technologies and the numerous times she’d seen the man during one of his surprise inspections of the Denver offices. It was this good natured familiarity which made her doubt Jack’s earlier comments about the man. “I can’tbelieve you two love birds beat us down here.”

At this, Jack wrapped a possessive arm around her back and tugged her to his side. “You know me, Marshall. I get things done fast when I’m on deadline.”

Instantly, bells started ringing in Rachel’s head as the man beside her smirked. She tried to pull back a few inches, but he only tightened his grip.

“That’s why he’s so good at his job, right Marshall?” If anyone else had been watching the perky blonde, they would have thought she was passing on a sincere compliment. But the flash of fury and the silent warning Allison shot Rachel left a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach.

What had she gotten herself into? Not only was Jack turning out to be the smarmy pick-up artist one tries to ignore in a bar, but now she was now smack dab in the middle of a married woman staking aclaim that she wanted no part of. Heaven help her.
his was going to be one long weekend.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for stopping by. And now for the question. Be sure to answer in your comment.
Question for Chapter Four
What reaction does Rachel have when drinking champagne?
A) sleepiness
B) headache
C) giggles
D) sarcastic comments





PHFT Lineup for the Week of May 25

It's the last week of May. Can you believe it?

Here's what's coming up next week on your favorite blog. I can't wait to see what these talented ladies have to say.

Monday, May 25: Cici Barnes Poppies in my Garden of Love
Tuesday, May 26:
Nicki Salcedo A Naked Man . . . and Other Gifts From My Mother
Wednesday, May 27: J Perry Stone The Other Books I Want to Write
Thursday, May 28:
Tammy Schubert Break Into Fiction® Review
Friday, May 29: Guest Chef: Eloisa James

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Saturday Review



The Lost Hours

Author: Karen White
http://www.karen-white.com
Publisher: NAL Trade (April 7, 2009)

ISBN-10: 045122696
ISBN-13: 978-0451226495
Genre: Women’s Fiction

When Piper Mills was twelve, she helped her grandfather bury a box that belonged to her grandmother in the backyard. For twelve years, it remained untouched.

Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1939 about the body of an infant found floating in the Savannah River. The necklace’s charms tell the story of three friends during the 1930s— each charm added during the three months each friend had the necklace and recorded her life in the scrapbook. Piper always dismissed her grandmother as not having had a story to tell. And now, too late, Piper finds she might have been wrong.

In the “The Lost Hours”, Karen White spins a provocative tale, spanning generations, of a story left untold, and secrets that run as deep as the roots of the “old gentlemen” - live oaks along the river at Asphodel Meadows. Her prose exquisite, her characters rich and deeply human, Karen White once again delivers a novel one part mystery, one part drama, two parts entertaining. If you love to be transported into your characters hearts and minds, love the rich atmosphere of the Lowcountry, and cherish a story well-told, then you’ll truly enjoy “The Lost Hours”.

Reviewed by: Darcy Crowder
Rating: 5 Petit Fours and 1 Hot Tamale


The House on Tradd Street

Author: Karen White
http://www.karen-white.com
Publisher: NAL Trade (November 4, 2008)

ISBN-10: 0451225090
ISBN-13: 978-0451225092
Genre: Women's Fiction/Paranormal
2009 RITA Finalist - Novel With Strong Romantic Elements

Practical, organized sugarholic Melanie Middleton is an anomaly. She uses two or three sugar packets per cup of coffee, indulges in doughnuts and a latte with whipped cream every morning for breakfast, and eats decadent desserts whenever she wants. And people say she's skin and bones. She's a successful real estate agent specializing in old houses in Charleston, but she hates the aging properties she sells. And though she's a very competent and sensible business woman . . . she sees dead people. Several of them in the old house an aged man has just left her.

"The House on Tradd Street," is not only, as the old man said, "a connection to the past" and "a piece of history you can hold in your hands," it's an intriguing ghost story with mysteries in both the present and the past, as well as a heart-rending nostalgic love story buried in years gone by. All written in Karen White's poignant, lyrical style.
No matter what you think of old houses, if you love mysteries, love stories, and great characters, you won't be able to put "The House on Tradd Street" down.

Reviewed by: Linsey Lanier
Rating: 5 Petit Fours and 1 Hot Tamale

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Interview with Karen White author of "The Lost Hours"

by Nicki Salcedo

After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone with the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. This book was nominated for the prestigious RITA award in 2001 in two separate categories. Her books have since been nominated for or won numerous national contests including another RITA , the Georgia Author of the Year Award and in 2008 won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Learning to Breathe.

Karen currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has recently expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in
Charleston. Her tenth novel, The Lost Hours, will be released in trade paperback by New American Library, a division of Penguin Publishing Group, in April 2009.

Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in
London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two teenaged children, and a spoiled Havanese dog (who appears in several of her books), Quincy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, playing piano, chauffeuring children and avoiding cooking.

How did you get started in your writing career?

I entered the first three chapters of my first book, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, in a RWA chapter contest. I entered because the first round judges were published authors and I figured they'd know best whether or not I should quit my day job (which I didn't really have to begin with). The finalist judges were all top NY literary agents--but I never even thought I'd get that far. I ended up winning the contest and the finalist judge (who'd once been Nora Roberts' editor) offered to represent me. She sold that book and every book since and is still my agent.

Your stories are well-known for the depth of emotion, character, and setting. Do you plot? Do you know what will happen at the end of the book before you start writing?

I really want to lie and say, "yes, of course I plot," but instead I'm going to let everybody know what a fraud I am! I don't plot. I have a general idea of what's supposed to happen--but that always changes. Maybe that's why my editor has given up on asking for a synopsis because she knows it's not going to bear any resemblance to the finished book anyway. I do have to give a general outline to get the money and contract released, but that's usually the last time I see that outline as all bets are off once I start typing. I will admit that it makes writing a book AGONIZING, but I also think it makes my books better since I write like I'm a reader, dying to know what's going to happen next.

You've written historical, mystery, and women’s fiction, but you are wickedly funny in person. Do you have any other genres up your sleeve?

Thank you, dear. My teenagers don't think I'm funny at all. This is why I creep them on Facebook so their friends will know I’m funny. I usually tell people that I expect them to laugh and cry while reading my books, mostly because I laugh and cry while WRITING them. My new mystery series, set in Charleston, is the closest I've come to comedy. There are some really, really funny dialogue lines being bandied about in those four books between the main characters, Jack and Melanie. I didn't know I could write that, but when those two characters popped up on the pages and started speaking, it just happened. The stories still have emotional depth, and the characters have lots of baggage, but I'd like to add “funny” to my repertoire.

What’s the worse or best advice you've received about writing?

The worst advice: When I was first starting out, I took an online course where the instructor informed us that if we didn't outline each character and each scene of our works-in-progress, we had no hopes of ever publishing a book, much less finishing one. Ha! That class has made me wary ever since of taking further classes or even reading 'self-help' books.

The best advice: Own your work. That's from Susan Elizabeth Philips from a workshop she gave at RWA a few years back. Your name is the name on the cover of the book and therefore the book should reflect YOUR vision of it, and not anybody else's. I'm blessed to have an amazing editor who believes in letting me write the way the stories come to me. When I wanted to write THE MEMORY OF WATER in 4 points of view, all of them first person, she didn't even blink. And that book has become my biggest seller, with over 150,000 copies in print.

Tell us about your most recent release THE LOST HOURS?

This story came to me in a weird way. I literally heard the voice of a young girl telling me, "When I was 12 years old, I helped my grandfather bury a box in the backyard of our Savannah home." For months (I was working on another book at the time), I kept thinking, "Who's that girl?" and "What in the box?" And then it just went on from there. Here's a brief blurb:

When Piper Mills was twelve, she helped her grandfather bury a box that belonged to her grandmother in the backyard. For twelve years, it remained untouched.

Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1939 about the body of an infant found floating in the
Savannah River. The necklace’s charms tell the story of three friends during the 1930s— each charm added during the four months each friend had the necklace and recorded her life in the scrapbook. Piper always dismissed her grandmother as not having had a story to tell. And now, too late, Piper finds she might have been wrong.

Karen White gives back a great deal of her time speaking to readers and mentoring new writers. We really appreciate her spending the day with us, and she appreciates everyone who has stopped by today! As a thank you to those who leave comments, you will be entered in a random drawing for copy of Karen’s hard-to-find and out-of-print AFTER THE RAIN as well as a signed copy of her newest book, THE LOST HOURS.

You can learn more about Karen White at http://www.karen-white.com

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

I spend a great deal of time by myself working and since I’m not in a cube farm and I don’t have any co-workers to annoy (unless you count the two dogs, two cats and two children and really I take a great deal of joy in annoying them!) I’ve come to rely on music to make the long hours more pleasurable. Well, that and a very expensive candle habit I’ve developed (my new fav is lemon-eucalyptus). When I’m working on my work writing and diving into endless operations manuals and picky formatting I listen to something really driving and pulsing like Velvet Revolver, ACDC and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Being the bright girl that I am it only took me one and a half manuscripts to figure out that listening to music while writing things less boring than restroom cleaning schedules and cash management procedures really enhanced my writing time.

For my current WIP I’m using omniscient narration, which means I really need to be inside the heads of every character - not just the hero/heroine. This story is about a magical florist who marries a gay man to allow him to make his own medical decisions as he’s dying. So, I live intown and have my share of neighbors I’ve interviewed and am pretty close to, but I’m not a dying gay man. Developing a playlist for Craig that I listen to each and every time I’m trying to write for him gives me an instant connection with what that character is feeling. So, here’s Craig’s playlist, just to give you an idea:


  • Somewhere Only We Know (Keane)
  • Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand (Primitive Radio Gods)
  • All These Things That I’ve Done (The Killers)
  • After All (Dar Williams)
  • Fountain of Youth (Grant Lee Phillips)
  • Mercy (Duffy)
  • King of the Road (Roger Miller)
  • Lay All Your Love On Me (Mama Mia Soundtrack)
  • Mercy of the Fallen (Dar Williams)
  • Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Roger Daltry)
  • Comfortably Numb (Dar Williams)
  • Bye, Bye, Blackbird (Joe Cocker)

The movement of the playlist I’ve set up for this character follows the trajectory of his own character arc so by the time I hit the last few songs of the playlist I’m feeling really sad – which is pretty much how the character feels. I’m able to instantly put myself into character just by using the music as a cue. I have a similar list for each character and sometimes I just play them all together one after another.

How do I find songs? After several years of working this way I kinda know the minute I hear something on the radio or within my own music collection that I need to note it. I connect with music, though, so I get that weird Emily Dickinson moment where the top of my head buzzes.

Anyone else have a way of using music to enhance writing?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER


I’ve been a Star Trek fan since the first episode in 1966. I still remember putting my TV dinner into the oven in anticipation, snapping the top onto the legs of my metal TV tray, and getting in my pajamas. By the time the time Captain Kirk started his famous “Space the Final Frontier” voice-over, I would be sitting cross-legged on my sofa within reaching distance of the TV dial. When the opening theme had finished, I was peeling back the aluminum foil from my dinner where a meat, a veggie, and a dessert awaited my consumption. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, and assorted others faithfully kept me company once a week.

For one hour, my imagination soared while my dinner grew cold. For three years, the first two on a school night, I stayed up past my bedtime and traveled to “strange new worlds” with the crew and boldly went where no ten-year-old girl had ever gone before. The Star Ship Enterprise represented a world where good conquered evil, a world where new things could always be discovered, and a world where a strong moral code prevailed. All things that didn’t exist in my small corner of the world.

After the third season my favorite show was cancelled. Heartbroken, I stayed faithful with each new incarnation. But, except for Star Trek: The Next Generation, nothing really gave me that same sense of awe and wonder. Nothing really grabbed my imagination in quite the same way. Nothing, that is, until today.

Today I went to the movies with my buddy and blog sister, Sandy. We saw the new Star Trek movie and suddenly I was ten-years-old again. When the movie ended, I was ready to go again, thrilled that J.J. Abrams captured the adventure again for me.

Now, I must confess. I will see the movie again. At least once. Okay, maybe more. I'm a fan. However, for the record, I do draw the line at my son-in-law's request to name the new baby Spock!

What about you? Are you a Trek fan? Or was there some other TV show or movie that captured your imagination as a child?

GRW's Moonlight and Magnolias

Come have some Dark, Bad, Fun with the Georgia Romance Writers at one of the largest regional annual writing annual conferences!

GRW's Moonlight and Magnolias, October 2nd – 4th 2009 at the Atlanta Hilton Northeast.

Featuring keynote speaker and #1 New York Times Bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon along with our featured GRW author and New York Times Bestselling author Dianna Love.

Registration is now open.
http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/mmconf/2009/MM09Registration.php


Free entrance to the Pitch Workshop for the first one hundred registrants. Hurry, because this one is filling up fast! Further your career by getting help pitching to this year's all-star line-up of editors and agents including:

Emmanuelle Alspaugh- Judith Ehrlich Literary Agency
Chelsea Gilmore - Avalon Books
Raelene Gorlinsky - Ellora's Cave
Melissa Jeglinski - Knight Agency
Monique Patterson - St. Martin's Press
Barbara Poelle - Irene Goodman Agency
Becca Stumpf - Prospect Agency
Denisa Zaza – Harlequin.

Enjoy workshops with veteran presenters Stephanie Bond, Rita Herron, Wendy Wax,Raven Hart, Berta Platas, Dorie Graham, Ann Howard White, Jennifer St.Giles, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Molly O'Keefe, Tami Cowden - And Many Others!

***New in 2009: Thursday night movie night, intensive craft workshop with Mary Buckham and Dianna Love on Sunday morning, Friday meals, genre themed mixers, and much more! Special Guest Barbara Vey from Publisher's Weekly! Check the conference schedule for updates

We also offer special programs for published authors.

Low conference prices: GRW Member - $199, RWA Member - $209, Non-RWA -$219

Please visit www.georgiaromancewriters.org for more information.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Don’t Throw Out Your Novel Like a Worn-Out Shoe

By Marilyn Baron

If I were a Catholic I could seek reconciliation and do my penance with a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 30 days since I last worked on my novel. And when I did write I violated the rule of Show, Don’t Tell, not to mention indulging in too much backstory. I’ve head hopped and have created unsympathetic characters. For these and all my other writing sins, I am truly sorry.

I imagine there must be a tremendous feeling of relief that comes with a sense of forgiveness and starting with a clean slate, much like tackling a neglected novel and finally getting it put to rights.
If I were an alcoholic, I could stand up at an AA meeting [or a GRW chapter meeting] and admit:
Hi. My name is Marilyn Baron and I’m a blocked writer. It’s been 30 days since the start of my current dry spell. I’m parched and I really need a cool burst of inspiration.

But I’m neither Catholic nor an alcoholic. So what’s a Jewish writer to do? When in doubt, I can always call on that age-old standby, Jewish Guilt. Luckily, you don’t have to be Jewish to experience Jewish guilt.

What do you do when your novel starts talking back?

Here’s how it works. You start hallucinating to the point where your novel starts talking back to you.

Your novel: “You haven’t written a word in 30 days. You haven’t called. You haven’t come to see me. Don’t mind me. I’ll just sit over here in a dark, drafty corner. Go ahead, throw me out like a worn-out shoe. I’m not important. I’m just your novel.”

You: “Don’t give me a guilt trip. I carried you around for nine long months. I was in labor for days. I gave birth to you, so don’t tell me I don’t care about you.”

Then you just have to forgive yourself and move on. It reminds me of working with my personal trainer at the gym I just joined. I hate the gym. To me, exercise is a dirty word, but my daughter convinced me to join with her so I’m slogging it out. That personal trainer really puts me through my paces. I don’t like going, but I’ve run out of excuses. I’m just going to have to buckle down and work out. And buckle down and write.

Guilt is a great motivator. Guilt can really get you going. It can help you get back in the game. It can help you finish a page, a chapter, and then a complete manuscript. So don’t feel bad about feeling guilty. Embrace your guilt. Don’t throw your manuscript out like a worn-out shoe. Listen to your novel when it starts talking back to you. Start writing again.

What do you have to feel guilty about (in your writing world)? Unburden yourself or just drop by and wish me Happy Birthday!
This post is dedicated to Jewish mother's everywhere.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Phenomenon that is Twilight – Comment for a chance to win the Soundtrack

The contest is now closed. Major congrats to commenter #9 Penny!!! You have won the Twilight Soundtrack. Send me your name and snail mail address to tamibrothers@yahoo.com and I'll get that mailed out to you ASAP!!! Thank you all for visiting with me and I hope everyone keeps coming back for other awesome prizes given out on this blog. Have a great day!!!

Before I get started with my post for today, I want to divert your attention to the VERY busy weekend we had. If you haven’t already seen the previous posts, definitely take a moment and scroll down.

On Sunday, we posted the third chapter to our group novel, Aspen Expose’. Don’t forget to answer the question in the comments section to be eligible to win a very cool prize at the end of our 9 chapters. Also, take a moment and read a fabulous article written by Jill Vejnoska for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution featuring writers going on-line to build an audience. The Petit Fours and Hot Tamales were featured in her article along with our group novel, Aspen Expose’. Check out this link to read the article. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2009/05/17/netnovels0517.html

On Saturday, I posted our 9th Mission for the Operation: Maggie Readiness Challenge. This section features editing our pages as we get them ready to send off for GRW’s writing contest, The Maggies. With a deadline of June 1st, we don’t have much time left.

Saturday was also the first day of our book review posts. This is a new feature here at PF&HTs. Check out the three reviews we have posted and tell us what you think. Let us know if you’ve read these books and if you agree with our ratings. Or if you have any suggestions you would like to add to our reading lists.

Okay. Now on to Twilight!!!




The Phenomenon that is Twilight

by Tami Brothers

Does anyone out there like the Twilight Series books? How about the movie? What about the soundtrack?

A few months ago I was perusing the bookstore shelves looking for something to read. I was getting ready to have a medical procedure done and needed to find something to keep me busy while sitting on the couch recovering. When I walked by the Twilight display, I thought “What the heck. Why not.” I’d heard good things about the series but never had the time to sit down and read them. Now was as good a time as any. Good thing I bought all four books because if I hadn’t, my poor husband would’ve been driving back to the bookstore.

I plowed through the first book, Twilight, on the second day out of the hospital. The remaining three books quickly followed. Four day and four thick books. Talk about immersion! I LOVED this series. I LOVED this world. And I LOVED this couple. Bella and Edward were two people I would really like to meet, no matter what their unusual diet happens to be. Stephenie Meyers did an excellent job of creating a likeable world that EVERYONE wants to be a part of. Don’t believe me? Just Google Twilight. There are TONS of sites dedicated to this phenomenon; from debates over whether Jacob was a better match for Bella to pictures of the various cars the Cullen family drives. Check out my favorite. The Aston Martin V12. This is the car Jacob tries to wreck in the fourth book, Breaking Dawn.

After I finished the final book, I was chomping at the bit to see the movie. Unfortunately, I had to wait for the doctor to clear me before I could make that trip. But when I did, WOW!!! I LOVED it just as much as I did the books. Edward and Bella were oh so real. I felt like I was right there with them living their story and I was thrilled the producers kept most everything true to the book.

Now the wait begins for the second movie. New Moon is due out November 20, 2009 and I can’t wait. Check out some of the pictures they’ve released to wet our appetites. Talk about teasers. (the guys are from Jabob's "pack.")

Until the release, I’ve been listening to the songs on the Twilight soundtrack. This has been a neat experience because I’ve never heard of most of these artists, but I’ve had fun picking out where each song appeared in the movie.



Do you like this little teaser?

Want a chance to win your very own copy of the Twilight Soundtrack? Leave a comment letting me know if you’ve read the books, watched the movie or listened to the soundtrack. If you have, do you have a favorite scene? Leave a comment and I’ll randomly choose a winner and post the name at the top of this post tomorrow morning. Good luck!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aspen Exposé -- Group Novel -- Chapter 3




Chapter 3

Swimming with sharks can be hazardous to your health.

~Marilyn Baron

Jack paused at a wide set of double doors to the
entrance of The Presidential Suite. He slid the hotel
key card smoothly into the slot as the lock flashed a
green light signal. When he pulled the doors open,
Rachel hesitated.


What was she waiting for? Was she expecting to
be carried over the threshold? No, yes, well, maybe.
Jack placed his hand possessively on the small of her
back and guided her into the room which, like the
man standing beside her, didn’t disappoint.

It was sinfully spacious, well-appointed, and
designed to appeal to all the senses. The view of
Aspen Mountain was magnificent. Rachel tamped
down her first instinct to cry out, fly to the window
and exclaim with childish delight over the winter
wonderland spread out before her like a sumptuous
feast. She took a calming breath. Don’t act like you
were raised by a pack of wolves and never saw the
inside of a hotel room.

Well, she’d never seen the inside of a hotel room
like this before. And there was even a fireplace to
match the Alpine decor. How romantic. She knew
she was letting herself get carried away, caught off
guard by the whole idea of this ultimate ski retreat.

The luxurious bathroom was about the size of
her entire condo at home, all glass and granite,
Grohe, brushed nickel faucets and exposed fittings
in the European style, complete with a towel
warmer, television, heated floors, a whirlpool the
size of a Roman bath, and a shower stall, big enough
for two, not that she was going to test that
proposition. And, Holy Moly, a fireplace in the
bathroom!

There was a large, fully-furnished living room
with a bar for entertaining, and of course, another
fireplace. Jack set his laptop on the antique desk.
Champagne was chilling on ice in a bucket next to a
tray of mouthwatering white chocolate-covered
strawberries.

“Where’s the second bed, I mean, bedroom?”
Rachel asked.

Jack’s eyes narrowed. “This is a one-room suite.
And, theoretically, why would we need it? We’re
engaged, remember?”

Rachel colored and her voice tightened. “Y-yes,
right.”

Her heart stuttered at the sudden knock on the
door.

It was the bellman arriving to set up their
luggage in the cavernous closet. He rattled off the
amenities, which included ski butlers and a chef-insuite.

Jack handed him some bills while Rachel eyed
the thick matching white terrycloth bathrobes on
ivory silk covered hangers that spoke of unforgettable
pleasures. She imagined herself wearing
nothing beneath her robe, walking out of a steamy
shower to tangle with Jack in the three-hundred
thread count sheets and–

“Rachel, why don’t you shower, put on
something more comfortable, maybe take a cat nap
while I check out the meeting setup in the boardroom?”

Was the man a mind reader? Hopefully not. And
what exactly did he have in mind when he said
‘something more comfortable’? Probably nothing at
all. Then it hit her. She had nothing at all to wear,
nothing appropriate. In her haste, she realized she
hadn’t packed properly. She had the essential
undergarments, but no fancy dress for the fancy
dinner in the ballroom tonight, no stylish bathing
suit for the indoor spa (at least not one that actually
fit), no ski clothes for the slopes. Not that she knew
how to ski. Of course, she hadn’t bothered telling
Jack that. What had she been thinking?

Obviously, she hadn’t been.

“Um, Jack, I uh, I mean, well, I don’t have any
clothes.”

Jack arched his brows and smiled.

“What I mean is, I don’t have any appropriate
clothes.”

He dug into his wallet and handed her a
Platinum American Express Card.

“I can’t take that.”

“Yes, you can. Consider it payment for services
rendered.” The hungry look he gave her bordered on
predatory.

Rachel choked. He hadn’t just said that. Did he
think she was some kind of a high-priced computerprogrammed
call girl? This whole experience had
started out as something of a lark, but now that she
was actually here in the hotel room, the hotel room
with one bed—one imposing, can’t ignore the
elephant-in-the-room-type King-sized bed—things
were beginning to get a little dicey. Jack was
beginning to get ideas. Five thousand dollars or not,
she wasn’t that kind of girl. Was she?

“Close your eyes,” Jack murmured.

Rachel stiffened.

“I said close your eyes,” he teased. “Just humor
me.”

Rachel complied. What in blazes was he going to
do to her? The man was used to getting what he
wanted, anything he wanted, rumor had it. But she
wasn’t for sale. And the sooner he realized that–

His hand grazed hers, and then he began
massaging her fingers. Okay, the man had a definite
hand fetish. She was alone in a room with Mira’s
maniacal CEO. How much did she really know about
Jack Davenport? He could be a serial killer. Or a
vampire.

“Calm down, I don’t bite.”

Rachel blew out a breath. The man was
dangerously psychic.

“Are you almost done?”

“Okay, you can look now.”

Rachel opened her eyes and gasped at the
biggest canary diamond she’d ever seen, sparkling
on her ring finger. The facets of the fiery, square-cut
masterpiece flashed in the sunlight that streamed
through the large picture window, almost blinding
her. And it was a perfect fit.

“What?” was the only word she could manage.

“Do you like it?”

“How could I not?”

“It looks good on your hand.” He was still
holding her hand like he owned it, like he owned
her.

“Jack, you didn’t need to get me a ring.”

“You’re my fiancé, right? A fiancé needs a ring.
Wait until Marshall Van Buren gets a look at this
baby.”

“Oh.” The swagger in his voice punctured her
soaring spirits. For a moment she’d forgotten he was
just running a game, that this was all a charade,
none of it real. Not the relationship, not the ring,
only the searing memory of the steamy kiss in the
receiving room.

Jack glanced at his stainless steel, Tag Heuer
timepiece (which was no doubt worth more than her
monthly salary) with an impatient expression that
said she was already beginning to bore him.

“I guess it’s been long enough.”

“Long enough for what?”

“Long enough for that shifty son-of-a-bitch Van
Buren to think that I was getting some, so to speak.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Nothing personal but, I mean, what kind of a
man would leave a woman like you alone in his hotel
room unless a decent interval had passed?”

“A woman like me?”

“I saw the way that barracuda Van Buren was
looking you over like it was feeding time. I guess I
don’t blame him.”

Rachel didn’t know whether to be flattered or
offended. Jack Davenport was an enigma. What was
it her mother always said about men? ‘Rachel, you’re
going to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your
Prince.’

“Jack, Mr. Van Buren was as nice as he could
be.”

“He’s got everyone fooled. It’s all an act, Rachel.
He’s a viper. The man will stab me in the back at the
board meeting tomorrow if I don’t torpedo him first.”

This was a side of Jack Davenport she hadn’t
seen before. An unflattering, combative side she
didn’t like one bit. Shades of Lord Voldemort. Rachel
eyed Jack’s laptop. What was going on in that
unpredictable mind and memory of his? What was
he up to? What kind of secrets was he hiding?

Then she recalled another of her mother’s
favorite expressions. ‘Curiosity killed the cat.’ Well,
her curiosity had landed her in plenty of trouble in
the past. And, as her mother also liked to say, ‘A
leopard doesn’t change its spots.’

“How do you know he’s out to get you?”

“I’ve done my homework. I didn’t get to be where
I am today by being caught off guard or
unprepared.”

Well maybe he was prepared, but one thing
Rachel was sure of. Jack Davenport was no Boy
Scout.

And she was going to earn her merit badge in
cyber-snooping trying to prove it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Question for Chapter Three
What kind of engagement ring did Jack put on Rachel’s finger?

a) Pink diamond
b) Emerald
c) Canary diamond
d) Ruby
Leave your answer in a comment and stay tuned for Chapter Four next Sunday.
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