Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 for 2013

13 had always been my favorite number and I can safely say that 2013 did not disappoint. I would like to present my top thirteen favorite things that happened in my life this year:



13. Learned how to make Peanut Butter Pie. (Absolutely delicious and probably will be the death of me.)  

12. Managed to pack up my whole apartment and move it to a storage unit without setting anything on fire in a fit of rage.

11. Got to read just a whole of ton of amazing books.

10. Completed the A to Z Challenge here on the blog!

9. Had the pleasure of hosting 9 fantastic authors in the airing of their Not-So-Guilty Pleasures. (Check out the side menu!)

8. Saw a wombat for the first time. Life changing.

7. Tried a bunch of new things (such as going into Manhattan to audition for the Disney cruise line on a whim. Cause, why not? I had a free Tuesday.)

6. Finished my manuscript!!! (The fact that this is coming in at number 6 is just proof of how awesome this year has been.)

5. Got to work with the lovely and talented Cora Carmack on my manuscript (thanks to Pitch Wars.)

4. Did a lot of travel both internationally and domestically.

3. Got to celebrate a bunch of engagements of friends and family (plus one wedding, so far!)

2. Helped raise a bunch of money for RAINN (final total - $11,610! People just kept donating. It was amazing!)

1. My beautiful nephew decided to grace the world with his presence.




I hope that 2013 was just a wonderful for all of you and I look forward to seeing you here next year. Because I have some high hopes for 2014. 

Happy New Year's Eve!

2013 Reads

I can not believe 2013 is almost over. It’s been a crazy year. So many excellent things happened, but more on that tomorrow.

Today let’s focus on books, because we haven’t done that in far too long. I wanted to share some of favorites of the year. As my WIP is YA Fantasy, I will admit that my list is going to be very YA heavy. I’ve been in the zone.

Here they are (in order of release date):



Shrapnel (Stephanie Lawton)

Always been interested in ghosts and the Civil War so this YA paranormal was right up my alley. It was interesting getting to be in the heads of each of the three teens dealing with their psychic abilities in this haunted house. Every time I’d get annoyed at one, I’d find out what they were going through. Also really liked the idea that these teens were brought together by a reality show about psychics.


Asunder (Jodi Meadows)

Absolutely fantastic follow up to Incarnate. Wasn’t sure I could love these characters more, but apparently I could. Go figure.


Hooked (Liz Fichera)

There was so much about this story I enjoyed. Loved getting two different perspectives on the action and was particularly enamored with Fred’s voice. Also, as I don’t have much of a golfing background, I was very interested in that aspect of the story.


Man in the Empty Suit (Sean Ferrell)

A time-traveling murder mystery in which a man tries to solve his own murder despite the only suspects being himself at other ages? Yes, please.


The Nightmare Affair (Mindee Arnett)

Absolutely fell in love with the idea of nightmares as creatures rather than just bad dreams. Throw in a special school for magic folk and a murder mystery and my attention is pretty much guaranteed.


Jilted (Kelly Jamieson)
Bolted (Megan Benjamin)
Busted (Sydney Somers)
Hitched (Erin Nicholas)

These are the four books of the Promise Harbor Wedding series. What originally drew me to this was the idea of four authors writing books about the same event, each from the perspective of a different couple. It ended up being a ton of fun to read and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite.


The Best Man (Kristan Higgins)

Fun contemporary romance. It was a great start to a new series. Really liked Faith and Levi and am looking forward to seeing how things for the rest of the quirky Holland family turn out.


OCD Love Story (Corey Ann Haydu) 

So compelling, not to mention beautifully written. It was extremely hard to put this one down, though at times I found I had no choice as I was getting so anxious for the characters. But I could never take too long a break before picking it back up.


Rumor Has It (Jill Shalvis) 

I’ve really loved all of the Animal Magnetism series and Kate and Grif’s story was no exception. Not only were the two of them great, but it’s always nice to catch up with the other characters. Feels like chatting with old friends.




All right, now I want to hear some of yours! Also, what books are you looking forward to in 2014? I'm always looking to add to my TBR list.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Ho, Ho, Horror

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of made-for-TV Christmas movies (See: this insanity). That being said, even with my blinding love of this genre, I can’t help but notice that if it wasn’t for everyone realizing the true meaning of Christmas by the end of them, some of these movies would be straight up horror flicks.

So, today, I offer you a smattering of synopses and you get to guess whether they belong to one of my beloved holiday movies or to one of my hated horror films. Answers are at the bottom. NO PEEKING.

  1. Woman kidnaps man at gunpoint and proceeds to drag him blindfolded to her family’s cabin where they will be completely cut off from any technology. 

  1. Man gets in car accident and wakes up in cabin, cut off from the world, with a woman who has no intention of letting him leave.

  1. On the way to their holiday destination a man and his family take a short cut and pick up a young woman and her baby, a decision which changes their lives forever.

  1. Man tracks woman down through letter that she sent to soldiers for the holidays. He does not tell her of his intentions, but instead slowly ingratiates himself with her family while undermining her romantic relationship.

  1. With her husband away for military duty, a mother learns more about her daughter and herself than she ever expected.

  1. Older man keeps tabs on younger woman, luring her into an employment opportunity before revealing the startling information he has on her.

  1. Single mother and her aging uncle invite a strange man into their home and soon find that he is insinuating himself into every aspect of their lives.

  1. A young couple searching for the woman’s sister find themselves at a strange motel with an even stranger proprietor.

So, how are we feeling? Jolly or jumpy?











ANSWERS:

  1. Christmas: Holiday in Handcuffs
  2. Horror: Misery
  3. Horror: Dead End
  4. Christmas: The Christmas Card
  5. Horror: The Bad Seed
  6. Christmas: Crazy for Christmas
  7. Christmas: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  8. Horror: Psycho

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: Megan Just

And the hits just keep on coming! We have another Not-So-Guilty Pleasures!

Today, I'm happy to introduce Megan Just, one of my PitchWars sisters (Go Team Cora!). Here are some of things she unabashedly loves: 


Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Newspaper

I subscribe my community’s paper newspaper.  The environmentalist in me screams in protest, but there’s just something I love about a good, old-fashioned newspaper.  Besides, trees are a renewable resource, right?  And I bring the newspaper to work to share with my co-workers.


Coffee Shop at Work

My employer operates an amazing on-site coffee shop.  It’s better than Starbucks, but half the price.  And boy do I indulge!  I did a calculation last week and despite it being cheap, I spend 1/50th of my salary on coffee shop drinks at work.  Yipes!

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Christmas Cards

Another dilemma for the forest, but in the end, I like snail mail too much to give up on traditional Christmas cards.  A mail box full of photo-cards from friends and family is one of my favorite things about the holidays, and therefore I send them, too.
 
 

Junky Holiday Candy
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Fancy truffles, ├ęclairs, gourmet dark chocolate bars…I could take them or leave them.  But put a bag of Halloween candy corn in front of me and you’ll bring me to my knees.  Same goes for chocolate-covered marshmallow santas—or even better, yellow sugar-covered marshmallow chicks.  I feel no guilt while binging on any one of these items. They only come around once a year, after all.


Spoilers

I’m the girl who hides under a blanket during a horror movie incessantly asking, “What’s going on now?”  Thanks to online spoilers, husband can enjoy his scary movies in peace.  It’s not just scary movies, though.  I search Twitter when TV shows air on the east coast first.  I flip ahead in books.  I even read book reviews just to find out what happens next in a series.

*********************************************************************************

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Megan Just recently finished editing her second novel (new adult genre) and is on the hunt for a literary agent.  She lives in California with her husband and toddler.  Twitter: @meganjust

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: Susanna Ives

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Holiday greetings, everyone! I've got a present for you today....the first Not-So-Guilty Pleasures since the spring!

Today's guest, Susanna Ives. Ms. Ives newest book, Wicked Little Secrets, came out just last week and today she's here to spill her own. And it would just be mean to keep you waiting any longer...



Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Thank you, Kelly, for hosting me on your wonderful blog! What are my not so guilty pleasures? Here are five!

Music. I’m constantly listening to music -- in front of the computer, in the car, cooking dinner, doing dishes, roaming aimlessly around the house.  However, I have lousy taste. It’s not that I like bad music, it’s that I can’t discriminate between what is bad or good. I’m just happy to listen to it all.

Potato chips. If there aren’t potato chips in the house, I get edgy. I’m a pretty wired, easily stressed person. Potato chips are my comfort food.

Starbucks Frappuccino. It could be ten degrees Fahrenheit outside, and I would slip and slide across an ice-crusted parking lot to order that cold, slushy heaven.

Running. I’ve been laid up with an injury these last few weeks. I’m going crazy in a way that no potato chips can cure. Running takes all my tension and releases it, leaving me feeling relaxed and content.

Writing Romances. I read across many genres, but I only desire to write romances. Weird.



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Susanna Ives grew up in the rural South, where she spent most of her youth at the local theater, acting in 
productions, working in the lighting booth, and building sets. Eventually she left her small town for the city lights of Atlanta, where she attended college and worked in corporations as a multimedia developer. These days she chases after her two curious, energetic children, designs web pages, and writes.

You can learn more about Susanna Ives’ work at:

Shopping Suggestions

I don’t know about you, but I’m still holiday shopping. Which, to be honest, is a little horrifying to me, as I like to be done by the time the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade kicks off. Of course, I’ve been told this is manic, but those are the same people who tell me that my December movie schedule is a sign of lunacy.

So, they may have a point.

For now, though, let’s just not pay attention to the man behind the curtain, and instead focus on the fact that we still have gifts to figure out. Thankfully, I have a list of truly awesome people and places to give our patronage.

Each one of these made generous donations to the RAINN Down Hope auction. While they asked for nothing in return, I believe kindness should be repaid in kindness, so I offer them up to you as you complete your shopping.

Because I can’t help myself, let’s start with the gift of reading (aka the greatest gift of all):
·        Kristan Higgins
·        Lauren Grimley
·        Laura Eno
·        Mary Pax
·        Barnes and Noble

For anyone interested in art and awesomeness:
·        StoryPeople
·        Kerri Socha

For gift receivers all over the country:
·        TOMS Shoes
·        Target
·        Jenny Craig
·        Build-A-Bear
·        Costco

For the wine lovers (these vineyards are located in New York, but all have online stores):
·        Pindar Vineyards
·        Pugliese Vineyards

Looking for romance on the eastern seaboard?
·        Entertainment Cruises

In Maine and feeling a bit parched?
·        Vena’s Fizz House

For those in the New York area (or those who are interested in traveling this way):
·        Molly Malone’s
·        Harvest Inn
·        Mulberry Street
·        Gemaginations
·        Milk & Sugar
·        Great South Bay YMCA
·        Argyle Grill & Tavern
·        Eagle Golf
·        Bubba’s Burrito Bar
·        The Rinx
·        The Babylon Carriage House
·        Berger Bros.
·        Design Masters
·        Racine Salon & Spa
·        The Long Island Ducks
·        Coquette
·        Drew Patrick Spa
·        Monsoon


Good luck with figuring out your gifties! Hope this helps!

Monday, December 9, 2013

RAINN Down Hope

When I first thought about organizing a fundraiser to benefit the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) back in September, I figured it would be a great way to start the holiday season. I hoped to get maybe 60/65 people to attend and I was determined to go door to door to businesses until I'd gotten twenty donations. If things went really well, then maybe I'd do it again next year and aim to make the event a little bigger.

It's safe to say that I underestimated the massive generosity of people.

Saturday night over 140 people came to Molly Malone's to buy raffles for 69 donated baskets and 22 door prizes. By the end of the night, over $7500 was raised. When combined with the online donations, that is a grand total of $10260 (more than twice my original goal!) raised for RAINN.


Throughout this process I've been truly blown away by the response I've gotten. I've always believed that good outweighs bad in the world, but if I ever needed proof, I've got it.


First, the number of local and national businesses, as well as individuals, who made basket donations was staggering. If you're in the midst of holiday shopping and still looking for ideas, I'll be posting a list later this week. These authors, artists and stores all have wonderful products and are certainly worthy of patronage.


Then, there were the auction's attendees. There were a number of different groups, people from all different stages of my life, as well as some who I was meeting for the first time. They came from a variety of distances, from Maine to Pennsylvania to Virginia. I tried to speak with everyone for at least a little while and every single person who I spent time with expressed constant love and support. I was even stopped by members of the waitstaff, for handshakes and words of comfort.


Despite the darkness of the inciting incident that led to this event, Saturday night was all about the light. People cheered when others won auction baskets, regardless of whether or not they knew the winner. There were no cross words, no grievances. I was privileged to watch all these wonderful people give of their time and money, but even more impressively, of themselves.



 Getting ready for ticket sales! (Photo by Ed Johnson)


First table of baskets (Photo by Ed Johnson)

(Photo by Ed Johnson)

Long rows of generosity (Photo by Donna Schramm)

Mingling guests (Photo by Donna Schramm)

Scariest part of the evening for me. Was terrified I was going to throw up, but made
it through public speaking vomit free! (Photo by Donna Schramm)

Lucky raffle winner! (Photo by Donna Schramm)

I'm finding myself desperately searching for something bigger to say than "thank you," but I don't think the phrase exists. (Yet. I'm working on it, stay tuned.) So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you to all donors and attendees of the first RAINN Down Hope dinner and auction.



I have never been more inspired to truly embrace the spirit of the holidays.

And to answer a question I received many times the other night, we'll definitely all be getting together again next year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Movie Madness

Happy Day After Giving Thanks! Hope you all had a phenomenal holiday and are now safely ensconced somewhere far away from crowded stores. Unless that’s something that you look forward, then I wish you all the greatest deals.

In case you are in any way the same type of crazy as me and have been counting the days until you can appropriately watch holiday themed movies without venturing into that scary “Christmas in July” territory, I’d like to present you with this year’s super nerdy – and borderline frightening – December movie schedule.



Hope you enjoy! But, really, mostly hope that you’ll forgive this display of mild insanity. After all, I did dedicate an evening just to movies staring members of the Saved By the Bell cast. That’s got to count for something, right?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The First of Many Thanks

Hello, all!

Sorry for the radio silence recently. Fundraisers and babies and weddings, oh my! I can not believe that the dinner auction is in less than two weeks and one of the weeks contains Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful kind of insanity.

Also, having the holiday coincide with my preparations is fairly appropriate. I have a whole lot to be thankful for this year, not the least of which is the amazing generosity of all the people I’ve dealt with in this process. Since some of said lovely folks are reading this, a monumental thank you for the signed books, gift certificates, artwork, and other wonderful donations. This auction is going to be beyond anything I’d imagined when starting. The baskets are taking on an awesome life of their own.

And counting!

So, thank you! I can’t wait to fill you in on all the details after everything is said and done. 

Parade Magic

Twelve years ago, my sister and I stayed over a night in Manhattan to watch my not quite one-year-old cousin (he’s going to be thirteen next week – insaneo!), so that my aunt and uncle could have a night out on the anniversary. The next day we went for a walk through Central Park before heading back home. My aunt and uncle brought us to see where all the balloons were being blown up for the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

As I mentioned last year, the parade is sacrosanct to me. That being said, never once have I wanted to battle the crowds to see it in person. I like pajamas and a jump start on eating copious amounts of food and the knowledge that I do not have to stand for one second of the festivities. Cozy cushions were made for Thanksgiving morning.

The morning before Thanksgiving? Totally different. Somehow seeing all the effort that went into making the parade the basket full of awesome that it is did nothing to take away from the wonder of it all. (Not like when you find out how a particularly cool magic trick is just smoke and mirrors. Bummer.) Instead it only added to it all.

Interestingly, it inspired the same feeling as when I’m getting ready to revise a story. All the mechanical parts are there, but they appear to be just random, disconnected bits and bobs. Then you blow life into them and abracadabra. Suddenly what you have is something full of fun and whimsy. Something that’s going to make people excited and happy. Something that can be enjoyed whilst eating eggs and bacon and, maybe, a cinnamon roll. And really, isn’t that what we all want for our final product?


So, ever since then, when I’m writing, my goal is the Thanksgiving Day Parade. What do you write towards?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Audio Disconnect

As a kid there was very little I loved more than story time. Listening to someone relay tales of fascinating worlds and beloved characters was the epitome of magic. And as I've mentioned many a time I've pretty much always been a fan of out loud solo reading as well. Love hearing spoken dialogue. 

But something about audio books just throw me. I've listened to quite a few of them, and it's not exactly that I don't like them, I just don't feel the same connection to the story as when I'm reading. I get distracted by line delivery choices and the voices that the reader has decided to give each character. 

For instance, the other day I was road tripping it up and decided to slap the iPod on shuffle and let the music gods determine my travel soundtrack. This is something I highly recommend, especially for those of us who have some downloaded audio books. There's something oddly enjoyable about suddenly hearing one fifth of a random chapter in the middle of Ella Fitzgerald and B*Witched. 

Anyway, I've both listened to and read the book that I was getting tastes of, so I can say with confidence that I enjoy the story. But, during this I wasn't thinking, Man, I want to listen to this whole thing again. Instead I just kept wondering, Why do all the male characters have Batman voice? It's not like they were interrogating criminals. In the scene I got an excerpt from they were removing a roof. Impressive, sure. But not the sort of thing you generally need a secret identity for. Of course, maybe that's not it at all and they've all just been eating gravel during coffee breaks. Who can say?

The point is, the audio books I've tried thus far haven't given me quite the experience I look for. And I would like to change that, as occasionally my enthusiastic car ride scream singing gives me a bit of a rasp. And then I'm the one with Batman voice. 

To prevent any confusion in the streets of Gotham, it would be nice to break up my driving concerts with a good book. So, I'm coming to you. Suggestions for really well done audio books please! All genres welcome. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Twas the Night Before The All Hallows'

'Twas the night before the All Hallows', when all through the dwelling
The dead were arising, the witches a-spelling. 
Revenants were spreading disease without care
Whilst vampires thralled mortals into their lair. 

The bats and the crows flew to the sky. 
The ghosts took turns pondering how it was they did die. 
And though in general I am not one to grouse
I did curse that which led me to this haunted house. 

The sounds from the graveyard, a terrible clatter,
First clued me in, this was no laughing matter. 
My gut started screaming, "Run away like a flash!"
But my feet wouldn't move, my legs wouldn't dash. 

Clouds surrounded the moon, giving an eerie glow. 
Light streaming through made shadows darker below. 
When, what through the mist did catch my eye
But a man dressed in rags, my throat went bone dry. 

His expression was bleary, quite haggard and worn
And I knew without words, his tale was forlorn. 
Before he spoke, a howl and screech clamored afar
No doubt a werewolf run afoul of a car. 

Oh demons! Oh harpies! Oh sneaky shapeshifters!
And vampires! Wendigos! And hitch hiking drifters!
They float up above and rise from below. 
Why I left my safe home, I'll never know. 

The dry leaves did crackle as the fellow drew nearer
The pit in my stomach grew deeper and queerer. 
His eyes spoke of madness, feral and grim
And still I could not move, damn traitorous limb. 

O'er the pounding of blood, I heard finally his voice. 
It was rusty, enthralling and left me no choice. 
I would listen to the man's story of woe,
Then, heavens be willing, unfreeze my legs and go. 

"I tricked the devil and called myself clever
No matter my sin, he would take my soul never. 
So, I lived on happily in transgression and vice
Never understanding what would be the true price. 

My hands - how they stole! My mouth - how it lied!
My knack for the cheating was a point of great pride!
In the towns where I traveled, I paid for nary a drink
And those I befriended? Their coins in my pocket did clink!

But one day I did die, as we are all wont to do
The devil, as promised, my soul did eschew. 
But here lay a problem on which I didn't count
My veniality prevented my soul from its mount. 

Safe from below, not wanted on high
My spirit was shackled, no where it could fly. 
I was bound to this earth for a life never ending
So I traveled in darkness on roads that were bending. 

Time seemed to cease, the night never quit
The laughing devil threw up an ember from his pit. 
In a hollowed-out turnip my hellfire does burn. 
And I answer to the name, Jack of the Lantern."

A banshee cried out behind me, breaking the spell
And I ran home faster than you can say "death knell."
But I heard a voice whisper as I shivered in fright,
"Enjoy All Hallows' Eve for it may be your last night."


Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No Conversation Necessary

I've recently been spending a lot of time with a gentleman of few words. Well, to be honest, he's a gentleman of no words. He's three months old and try as I might he just refuses to say "Aunt Kelly is my favorite by far!" I figure he'll have it down by four months.

In the meantime, he's crushing it with the non-verbal communication:

                                

So, in his honor, I present five awesome characters of a taciturn nature: 


This guy never said a single word, but every time he got excited or depressed I was right there with him. Come on, don't say you weren't. That rug drooped over and shuffled away after Aladdin started yelling and you just wanted to give him a cuddle. And you know it. 


Sure, we may have gotten to hear her both talk and sing later on, but we first got to know her in silence. And, let's face it, even if The Gentlemen hadn't been involved in that whole stealing people's voices shenanigans, Tara's first impression probably still would have been hushed. And that's fine because it was worth waiting to hear what she had to say. 

3. Snoopy

This guy didn't need to do a lot of yapping. He had swagger. Even after he started sharing his thought bubbles, all he really needed to do was don his pilot goggles or grab his saxophone and coolness began to emanate. No conversation needed. Plus, he liked to write! And who doesn't love a kindred spirit?


A prime example of actions being far more impressive than words. He might have kept his own counsel, but that didn't mean he didn't care about the people around him. In terms of neighbors, I'd choose the one who leaves gifts in trees and is willing to fight for local children over some joker who's an open book, but who doesn't give a crap about anyone else and insists on playing "F*** You" at deafening levels on a Tuesday at one forty three in the morning. 

5. Waldo

I have never read or heard anything that this man has to say. Literally the only things I know about him is that he likes to travel and has a shockingly limited wardrobe and yet I know I will never, ever stop looking for him. How many inspirational speeches can really boast inspiring that level of devotion?


How about you? Any silent charmers you'd like to add the ranks? We can get them all together and throw a giant party. I'm willing to bet money we wouldn't get any noise complaints. 

But while you're finalizing the guest list, I've got to get back to my number one laconic lad. If my calculations are correct, it's time for our daily staring contest. 

                                 

He always wins. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Romance for a Reason

Hey there, folks! Today we are lucky enough have Lauren Grimley visiting with us again. She's winding her way through her Romance for a Reason tour and today we get to read what she has to say on list item number five. Enjoy!


Top ten things more fictional (and real-life) females ought to do:

5. Embrace their sexuality.
6. Champion their femininity.
7. Appreciate chivalry.
8. Celebrate girl power.
9. Eliminate cattiness.
10. Cry a little & laugh a lot.

I am surrounded by real-life women warriors fighting life’s toughest battles, something that’s become even more evident as I’ve talked with people about my recent project: Romance for a Reason. Yet, as a reader and writer of romance (among other genres), I find few admirable fictional female warriors. So I decided to explore the issue, making a plea to writers and readers to demand more of their fictional heroines and explaining my reasons in posts throughout the month. Today, thanks to Kelly, I’m talking about number five on my top ten list. (See the calendar on the Romance for a Reason page for dates and links to the other posts.)

Where Romance Has it Right

Of all the requirements I came up with for kick-butt heroines, embracing sexuality is one area that most romance writers get right already. So why mention it? Because society still gets it wrong, sometimes infuriatingly wrong! And writers and their readers need a reminder that there are those of us out there who appreciate an honest look at women as lovers.

A little over a year ago, in the height of the Fifty Shades madness, I gave in to the hoopla and read all three books. Even as an amateur author myself, I agreed with the literary critics that they weren’t the most well-written works I’d read recently. I also agreed with the fandom, though, that they were a fun and interesting summer read. Ana fails to meet most of my requirements for strong females, particularly in the first book or so. Since it was a trilogy and based off the same basic plot as the Twilight series, I wasn’t bothered by that, knowing that her sexual awakening was just around the corner and would bring with it a stronger, more self-aware heroine. It did. The trilogy ended with a young woman who wasn’t afraid to admit she liked it a little kinky between the covers and who finally saw herself as an equal to her partner.

Enter Pastor Douglas Wilson, and his blog post “Fifty Shades of Prey,” in which he basically implies that women who willingly engage in certain types of sex are asking to become victims. I won’t repeat my complete irate rebuttal (you can read my reply to the good Pastor here), but let’s just say things got ugly.

Clearly this was an extreme example of someone who can’t accept females embracing their own sexuality, but society is full of less extreme examples. Single men who have healthy love lives, for instance, are studs. Single women with the same are called by another five-letter s-word. It seems only in romantic fiction, which unlike society and the media, tends to be ruled by female writers, readers, and first person narrators, is it okay for a woman to enjoy love making as much as her male counterparts. (Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse with her variety of lovers—not just in number, but also in species—and her honest comments about her sexual appetite is probably my favorite example of this.)

So how do we change society’s double standard? By pointing it out whenever we see it. I’m not sure Miley Cyrus got it right, but I seriously wonder if anyone would have cared if some male artist rubbed himself all over a half-dressed dancer—which, from what I remember of MTV, is pretty much what happens in nearly every rap video ever made. Her twerking, like E.L. James’s writing, got everyone talking. Now we just need to turn the topic of conversation to the real issues: women, like men, have desires. It ought to be perfectly acceptable for females in real-life, like in our fiction, to embrace these desires...Although perhaps we can all agree to keep it off prime time!



unbridled cover.JPGThe Romance:
Unbridled: A collection of short stories from the Alex Crocker series
By Lauren Grimley

“Think Law and Order SUV meets The Breakfast Club” was Ellie’s trite explanation of what Alex had been dragged into. Add a few fangs, Fifty Shades of Oversharing, and a dash of Dr. Phil, and she was in for quite a Thursday night.

Alex couldn’t deny she had become the pint-sized poster child for PTSD lately, but she didn’t exactly expect to find a support group for teachers turned vampire chew toys in Bristol, MA. Listening to the tales of the four other females gathered to help her heal, however, she accepts that perhaps both the worst and the best of life can blossom from the unexpected.

Unbridled is a novella-length collection of four connected stories focusing on the unlikely friendships and less likely lovers of the female characters from the Alex Crocker series.

“Grace and Dignity”
Ireland, 1713
Even a female whose mating has been arranged most of her life still thinks about what she wants in a mate. Not one of the qualities Sarah had hoped for were easily evident in her betrothed, the future Regan of the Rectinatti coven. Perhaps, though, there were more layers to Darian than he liked to reveal, but how does a subject unmask a prince?

“Rules and Recollections”
Bristol, Massachusetts, 1902
You can’t fall in love with someone you barely recall, but that, Vivian supposed, was the point. After a terse meeting with the Knower, a mind reader, memory manipulator, and the coven’s most notorious lecher, Vivian isn’t herself. She can’t shake the feeling that the solution to her mood lurks just below the surface of her consciousness. Only plunging into darkness, though, will bring everything to light.

“Blood and Secrecy”
Bristol, Massachusetts, 2008
The shared need for blood brought them together, but individual desires for secrecy are keeping them apart. Each already left behind a life of privilege for reasons the other likely couldn’t understand. Now both Rocky and Ellie need to decide if they’re willing to open up about their pasts in order to ensure a future.

Series: Alex Crocker series, can definitely be enjoyed without reading the first two books in the series, but is written to fit after the events of book 2, Unveiled.
Genres: paranormal romance, vampire series, urban fantasy, short stories
Release date: October 1, 2013
Available formats: ebook & paperback (178 pages)


Purchase links:

Amazon

Or for those who want just a bite, three of the individual stories are available as well:
  
Barnes & Noble 



R4R image.pngThe Reason:
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and a friend and teacher of too many women who’ve been affected by violence, I chose it to also to be the release date for Unbridled. I may not love wearing pink or purple, the colors of these two issues, but I do love a good fight for great causes. I’ve just chosen to battle this one with my pen. Please consider helping in your own way!


How you can help:

Read some romance. Proceeds from Unbridled will be donated to the two charities listed here.

Donate. Make your own individual donation to these two charities or choose a local charity supporting these and other causes affecting women in your area. To learn more about each charity and my reasons for choosing them, visit the Romance for a Reason page. Or click through to donate directly.



Party hard. Gather the women (and men!) of your book club or just a group of friends for a Romance for Reason party. Party ideas? Check out my blog for ideas on how to plan your gathering. Then download the Romance Reading Questionnaire and/or the Body Lingo Bingo for some fun party activities!

Share. Tweet, status update, review, or just chat with friends about the books, the tour, and the charities (mine or yours)!



Lauren.jpgAbout the author: 
Lauren Grimley lives in central Massachusetts where she grew up, but her heart is on the beaches of Cape Cod where she spends as much of her time as possible. After graduating from Boston University she became a middle school English teacher. She now balances writing, reading, and correcting, all with a cat on her lap and a glass of red wine close by.

Unforeseen, the first novel in the Alex Crocker Seer series, was Lauren’s debut novel. She was thrilled this spring to continue the series with Unveiled and now Unbridled. To learn more about her or her writing or to connect with her online visit her website at www.laurengrimley.com.

Twitter @legrimley: https://twitter.com/legrimley


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