Monday, July 27, 2015

Aloha to Kim Amos and AND THEN HE KISSED ME


I am posting pictures from my recent trip to NYC for the RWA Annual Conference on my travel blog at this link.  During the conference, I met today's guest - Kim Amos!  From her bio,

Kim Amos is a romance writer whose stories usually have hot dish in them, which is the Minnesota name for a casserole. She also writes young-adult novels under the name Lara Zielin.  Currently, she lives in Michigan with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

SOS Aloha:  What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of Michigan?

Kim Amos:  There is a t-shirt that I love, which says “Four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan.” It cracks me up every time. I never get tired of seeing, hearing, and smelling the Great Lakes, and I love how different they all are. Lake Superior, for example, is crazy scary and cold. It’s so deep! I imagine huge monsters living in its depths. And then there’s Lake Michigan, which is the color of a robin’s egg in places, so beautifully blue it hurts to look at. Lake Erie is a survivor—it had toxic chemicals dumped into it for years, but it’s making a remarkable ecological recovery. And on Huron, I’ve seen the fog settle in like a blanket, so thick and soft-looking you’d swear you could sit on it. I’m lucky to live near all this fresh water. The Great Lakes are a treasure—and an inspiration—I never tire of!

SOS Aloha:  Who or what helped you along the path to publishing?

Kim Amos:  Does everyone say their agent? Because I’m about to follow suit. My agent, Susanna Einstein, read an early draft of one of my novels and instead of just sending me a rejection letter, she actually agreed to meet with me over lunch and tell me what could be improved in the manuscript. This is so unusual—I still can’t believe she did it. What’s more, her notes were crystal clear, and I felt like I understood what she was looking for. I went home, revised the manuscript over many weeks, then asked her if she’d take another look. She graciously agreed, then signed me after that. I think about that act of generosity all the time, and how it changed the course of my writing life forever.

SOS Aloha:  What inspired AND THEN HE KISSED ME?

Kim Amos:  One of the biggest inspirations is the Empire, Michigan, Asparagus Festival, which takes place the third week in May every year. I just knew I had to use this quirky, unusual event in northern Michigan as a backdrop. Not only does the festival have a parade featuring an asparagus queen, they also have a specialty asparagus beer that you can only get that time of year. There are dozens of vendors that serve everything from asparagus pizza to asparagus focaccia to asparagus sausage. And there’s a “kick your ass-paragus 5k” that I actually ran this year (that it did, in fact, kick my ass-paragus). I tried to fold in many of the festival’s details into AND THEN HE KISSED ME, which was great fun.


Kim is celebrating the release of AND THEN HE KISSED ME, Book Two in the White Pine series:

Five years ago, Audrey Tanner flung caution to the wind and herself into the arms of an emerald-eyed bad boy biker she met at the White Pine Asparagus Festival. Two blissful weeks together convinced her that Kieran Callaghan was The One-until The One blew town without a word, leaving her brokenhearted. Now, starting a new job at the new Harley Davidson showroom, Audrey is floored to meet her new boss: Kieran. He's still hot as hell, but she won't fall for his sexy smile again. This time, she's calling the shots.

Kieran never thought he'd return to White Pine, Minnesota, much less see Audrey again. Gorgeous and smart as ever, she's just as irresistible as he remembered. She still doesn't know why he had to leave-or that he's missed her every day since. But he can't deny he wants more than the no-strings fling Audrey proposes. As things between them heat up, Kieran must choose between the secret he's sworn to keep and the woman he never stopped loving.

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Forever Romance is hosting a special giveaway at this link.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Aloha to Lauren Layne and FRISK ME

 

After spending a week at RWA in NYC, I share the Big Apple with you via Lauren Layne's new release, FRISK ME, Book 1 in the New York's Finest series.  Lauren joins me for a cozy chat ...

A long-time romance reader, Lauren Layne thinks the only thing better than reading about happy endings is writing them. She now pursues a full-time career in Happily Ever After, a job she's naturally suited for after marrying her high school sweetheart. A bit of a nomad, Lauren's lived everywhere from Orange County to Manhattan, and currently lives in the Chicago area. Her hobbies include coffee by day, wine by night, and lots of writing in between. She's also a total website nerd and insists you check out laurenlayne.com!

Kim:  Chicago!  What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Windy City?

Lauren:  This is going to sound crazy, but my favorite thing has been the snow. Winter’s long been my favorite season, but coming from Seattle, we usually get snow maybe once or twice a year. Some years there’s no snow at all. Then we tried New York, and I thought *that* would be my winter fix, but we had two pretty mild NYC winters while we were there. But Chicago … Chicago knows how to do winter. Bitterly cold and piles of snow. Perfect :-)

Kim:  Who or what helped you along the path to publishing?

Lauren:  Probably a cliche answers here, but my husband, definitely. He was the one that gave me a little dose of tough love early on, telling me I had to stop talking about writing a book and actually do it. And once the book was done, he’s the one who didn’t even hesitate when I nervously asked if I could reduce our dual income household to a single-income household while I pursued the dream of becoming a full-time writer. That sort of unwavering confidence, that belief that the money stuff would work itself out because I was a good writer (note: we went into not insignificant debt, and then crawled back out of it) is a huge component of my success.

Kim:  What inspired your new series and your new title, FRISK ME?

Lauren:  Big shout out to my publishing team here, because it was them that initially had the idea, “Hey, what about a family of NYC cops …” The story is all mine, the characters are all mine, but the premise is what happens when you put a bunch of romance-loving people in a room and figure out what stories haven’t been told yet. There just aren’t a lot of cop books out there, which is strange, because a man in uniform is HOT. I think one thing that’s pretty unique with FRISK ME and the series in general is that it’s not suspense. Most books about law enforcement officers have a “danger” element to them, but while New York’s Finest isn’t without some real-life cop situations, the heart of the series is the romance and the family.


After a photograph of Luc Moretti saving a tourist hits social media, he instantly becomes New York's most famous and beloved cop. When a major network decides to run a special on the "American Hero," Luc's boss gives him no choice but to cooperate in the name of good exposure for the department. Luc doesn't mind the celebrity status-what he does mind is the gorgeous brunette journalist who's been assigned to follow his every move. Especially since she also happens to be the same knockout that rejected him rather publicly the week before.

Ava Sims is a woman who gets what she wants. And what she wants is to be CBC's lead anchor-but to get there, she'll need to nail the fluff piece on the playboy cop. Luc Moretti is everything Ava knows to stay away from: a stubborn charmer with a hero-complex. But the more Ava gets to know Luc and his oddball family, the more she realizes that beneath the swagger and the blue uniform is a complex man who makes her heart beat too fast. Soon, Ava's doing the unthinkable, and falling for the best of New York's finest …


Forever is hosting a giveaway at this link.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Coming soon from the New York's Finest series ...

Weekly Winners

Patience guards the entrance of the NYC Library 

I just arrived home from the RWA Annual Conference in NYC - I will share pictures, stories, and books in the coming week.  Meanwhile, we have winners at SOS Aloha!

Holly Bush's THE MAID'S QUARTERS
- Glenda wins a book choice from my convention stash.

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Elizabeth John's JUDGING JOEY
- Library Pat wins a book choice from my convention stash. 

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Karida Clarke's CAPTURED HEAT
- Erin wins a book choice from my convention stash.

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Winners, please claim your prizes by sending your mailing address to sos.aloha@yahoo.com.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Fortitude also stands guard.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Aloha to Misty Evans and DEADLY INTENT


She’ll do anything to find her sister…

Deep undercover with a Tijuana drug cartel, FBI agent Sophia Diaz is two days away from making the biggest bust of her career…and tracking down her sister who went missing ten years ago. But when a rival cartel puts out a hit on her, there’s only one man who can keep her alive.

He’ll do anything to keep her safe…

Immigration enforcement officer, Nelson Cruz, has his hands full with his own operation while undercover as a member of the Savages motorcycle gang. When orders come down that he has to protect the sexy, but oh-so-aloof, Agent Diaz without breaking his cover, Nelson must put his skills to the ultimate test. Especially since a previous relationship with Sophie compromised his career and wreaked havoc on his heart.

South of the border is no place to die…

Nelson’s never gotten over the time he spent in Sophie’s bed or the fact she double-crossed him on their last mission together. He can’t trust her…and she doesn’t trust anybody. As the two fight their red-hot, south of the border attraction, Nelson discovers a secret that could destroy Sophie’s world forever. Once again, he’s forced to put his job—and his life—on the line for her. Can he keep her alive and out of prison? Or will their careers, as well as their hearts, go up in the flames of desire?


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans has published over twenty novels and writes romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. As a writing coach, she helps other authors bring their books – and their dreams of being published – to life.

Misty likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, movies, and hanging out with her husband, twin sons, and two spoiled puppies.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Aloha to Sherri Browning and THE GREAT ESTATE

 

Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford…and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she’s determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love… before they’re lost to each other forever.

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love…and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

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Sherri Browning writes historical and contemporary romance fiction, sometimes with a paranormal twist. She is the author of critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in western Massachusetts and Greater Detroit Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Find her online at sherribrowningerwin.com

Downtown Abbey exhibit at Winterthur Musseum

Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, the third in Sherri Browning’s Thornbrook Park series, The Great Estate, comes out this August!  I asked Sherri if she could be an original (new) character on Downton Abbey - who would she be?

I would be Mrs. Lucy Longchamps, a divorcee and dear old American friend of Cora’s who comes to visit and leads Cora into misadventures. Lord Grantham would detest Lucy for being such a bad influence on Cora. Lucy would finally wear out her welcome when found in bed with one of Mary’s favorite suitors. Take that, Lady Mary! I would really love a chance to bring Mary down a notch.


Sourcebooks is hosting a giveaway at this link ... and offers an excerpt from THE GREAT ESTATE:

Thornbrook Park. A warm wave of pride filled him at the sight as Dale drove them up the winding way. The chimneys appeared first over the crest of the hill, followed by the slate roof, and finally the rose stone facade. How could he have stayed away so long?

Sophia wouldn’t be expecting him. He planned to surprise her, perhaps persuade Finch not to even announce his return. He would simply appear at the dinner hour, dressed to the nines, and act as if he had been there the entire time. Darling, I believe the quail is cooked perfectly, but not quite the same as when I shoot it myself… No, it wouldn’t do. She hated it when he left her alone to go off hunting. He’d always known it, but he couldn’t seem to give it up. Old habits. In truth, he couldn’t wait to get his boots on, the good English ones he’d left behind, take up his rifle, and stomp off into the woods. His woods. Alas, there would be no more hunting. At least, not as frequently, and certainly not right away. Not until he was certain that he wouldn’t upset Sophia further. Not until she forgave him.

Perhaps he could suggest other activities that they could do together? His brow shot up. He knew just what activities he had in mind, but they would have to work up to that. Slowly. He meant to court her properly, one step at a time.

“Now, Dale, I don’t want a fuss,” he said. “It’s good to be home but no need for a celebration. I mean to slip in quietly.”

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday's Warrior - Aloha to Karida Clarke and the Phoenix Warriors

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It is my pleasure to host my fellow RomVet, Karida Clarke! From her bio,

Karida Clarke is a romance writer with a penchant for anything otherworldly. If it has scales, fur, poisoned talons, throws fire or casts magic spells, it might find its way into her stories. Karida likes her heroines multifaceted and her males swoon-worthy, Alpha-style. She believes that relationships matter more than things and places. In her free time, Karida enjoys lacing up for long runs and cooking ethnic cuisine. Pet peeves include Saran Wrap and people who don’t put their shopping carts away. Karida has an M.A. in English Literature, is a former college English instructor, and currently writes for a small newspaper. She lives with her nerd-tastic husband and two spunky kids in Ohio.

Learn more about Karida and her books at karidaclarke.com.

Kim:  Ohio! What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Buckeye State?

Karida:  I grew up in the military and then served in the military, so I have lived in multiple states and countries. When my husband's job moved us here, I was skeptical that I would like it. Ohio has been an amazing surprise for me and my family. We love it here so much that we've decided to put down some roots and stay a while. Ohio is a beautiful, affordable state with four seasons, tons of activities and cultural opportunities, and a low cost of living. I love watching the leaves change colors in the fall and that I can go hiking across creeks with my kids during the day and then go watch a Broadway play with my husband in the evening. Truly, we have the best of both worlds here.

Kim:  Cooking ethnic cuisine - what is your favorite recipe? What is your favorite restaurant?

Karida:  I eat gluten-free, so ethnic cuisine is wonderful since other countries don't rely on wheat as much as the U.S. My favorite cuisines are Indian and Ethiopian. My favorite restaurant is either Ajanta India Restaurant in Kettering, OH, or Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant in Columbus, OH. No chain food--family restaurants with delicious food at good prices. As far as recipes, I love a good dal, a dish made from lentils and spices.

Kim:  Who or what helped you along the path to publishing?

Karida:  So many people have helped me as I've pursued writing and self-publishing my novels. My sister most of all--she introduced me to the paranormal romance genre years ago. My husband, too--he puts up with my mood swings and he understands the creative process. Self-publishing was a decision I made so that the product I put out there is true to my vision. Every aspect of the book--from the picture and font on the cover to the names of characters and content of the epilogue--is as I intended it, so the reader is getting the experience I want for them. I am grateful for an editor, proofreader, and cover artist that gets me. 

Kim:  Tell us about your books - what inspired them?

Karida:  I've published three books in my paranormal romance series, Phoenix Warriors, thus far. Paranormal romance is my favorite genre because it combines the fantasy of fairy tales with the heat and spice of a good romance. Rather than vampires and werewolves, which have been done well repeatedly, I chose to make my protagonists Phoenix because they are literally hot.

Kim:  What's next for Karida Clarke?

Karida:  The Phoenix Warrior series will contain six books. I've published three and am working on the fourth. Although all the books can be read as standalone novels, they contain the same characters, so you can learn tidbits about them by reading them in order.

I am also in a writer's group that is putting together a modern fantasy anthology, so I hope to begin writing a short story for that soon.

Air Force Memorial in Washington, DC

Mahalo,  Karida, for serving and writing!  I am giving away a digital copy of CAPTURED HEAT, Book 1 in the Phoenix Warriors series, to one randomly selected commenter.  

The Phoenix Warriors, a group of immortals bound by the gods to protect the integrity of the human realm from otherworldly races, have been led for centuries by Cole, a guarded alpha male.

When Cole learns that an ancient demon has discovered the location of a tool that will enable him to escape from the prison realm, Cole vows to find and safeguard it before the demon's vampire minions.

Rebecca Powell is a high school guidance counselor who is everyone's "lucky charm." She's just not so lucky herself. After being used a time too many, she's through with men...until she runs right into the one she can't resist.

Cole and Rebecca have both been burned before, but can they put aside their misgivings to protect the human realm and learn to love again?

To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Ohio - what do you know about the Buckeye State?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, July 24, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, July 25.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Aloha to Jane Ashford and A RADICAL ARRANGEMENT


A classic Regency romance from beloved author Jane Ashford!

Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

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Jane Ashford, a retired teacher and editor, is now a beloved author of historical and contemporary romances. She has been published in various parts of the world, including Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Spain, and of course the U.S. Jane is also a two-time RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award nominee. Born in Ohio, Jane now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles.


Sourcebooks is hosting a giveaway at this link ... and offers an excerpt from A RADICAL ARRANGEMENT:

Sir Justin Keighley stood in the doorway, looking them over with a slight, satirical curve of his lips. He wore, like the other gentlemen, conventional evening dress, but this superficial similarity was their only common ground. Ralph Mayfìeld, Philip Manningham, the squire, and John Twitchel were none of them unattractive men or negligible personalities. Each, in his own sphere, had a certain dignity and authority, and all had the confidence that respect engendered. Yet somehow, the moment he entered the room and before he spoke a word, Justin Keighley eclipsed them. It was not charm. Indeed, the newcomer did not look at all pleasant or ingratiating. And it was not mere social position. Keighley held an ancient baronetcy and a substantial fortune, but any of twenty men his hosts were accustomed to meeting ranked above him. Ralph Mayfield could not have said why he felt subdued as he came forward to greet his final guest.

The squire’s wife might have enlightened him. As she had told a friend at a Bath assembly two years ago, “Justin Keighley is a vastly attractive man, my dear. And not just to women. All the young men ape him, my son among them. I don’t know just how it is, but he has a great influence without appearing to seek it in the least. Indeed, sometimes I think he dislikes the idea. But it goes on. It’s something in his manner. No doubt you’ve noticed it yourself. He makes you look at him.” Mrs. Camden had been embarrassed by this speech, but it was quite true. And Keighley’s attraction was the more mysterious because he was not conventionally handsome. Though tall and well made, with broad shoulders and a good leg, his features were rough—a jutting nose and heavy black brows that nearly obscured expressive hazel eyes. And he took no care with his dress, a rarity in an elegant age. His coats were made so that he could shrug himself into them without help; his collars did not even approach his jaw; and he had once been observed in White’s with a distinct thumb mark on his Hessian boots, giving one of the dandy set what he described as “a shuddering palpitation.”

But these sartorial eccentricities were outweighed by Sir Justin’s political influence and sagacity. He was an intimate of the Prince Regent and Lord Holland, and important in the Whig Party. These facts did not explain his fascination for a great number of people, chiefly women, who hadn’t the slightest interest in politics, but they amply justified the Mayfìelds’ attention and suppressed antipathy.

“Good evening,” Keighley said to Mr. Mayfield in a deep, resonant voice. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“Not at all, not at all. Come in. You know everyone, I think.”

Sir Justin bowed his head with a sardonic smile. He always met precisely the same people at his yearly dinner with the Mayfields, presumably those they were certain he could not “corrupt” with his aberrant opinions, and he always felt the same infuriated boredom. For the fiftieth time he wondered why he came. There was no hope of amusement or chance of advantage here. The Mayfields and their friends were just the sort of smug, resolutely conventional people he despised. They held to the views their fathers had bequeathed them and attacked all others. If one tried to make them change even a fraction, they shook their heads and muttered of treason.

He looked around the room. The only addition this year was the Mayfìelds’ daughter. He had forgotten her name, but he remembered that she had come out last season. She looked as one would have expected: a pallid, simpering creature. Keighley shrugged. Politics forced him to endure fools occasionally. The Prince would want to know the climate of opinion here in Devon. He supposed he could get through this evening as he had previous ones, through a combination of stoicism and bitter inner laughter.

Margaret watched him with awed apprehension as he settled beside Mrs. Camden and began to chat with her about London. She had never actually spoken to Sir Justin; her mother had seen to that. But she had heard him talked of so many times that she felt she knew what he would say in response to a wide variety of remarks. It would always be shocking. She gazed at him in an effort to understand how any man could be so utterly depraved in thought and action, almost expecting his rugged face to contort in a grimace of malevolence and his chiseled lips to emit some horrifying revelation.

Suddenly Sir Justin looked up and met her eyes from across the room. He seemed at first startled to find her staring, then his mocking smile appeared again, and he raised one black brow, holding her gaze. Embarrassed, Margaret tried to look away, but something in his hazel eyes prevented it. A spark glinted there, and she felt a kind of tremor along her nerves. It was utterly unfamiliar and unsettling, like a violent thrill of feeling. How could a stranger affect her so? This must be fear, she thought; I am afraid of him. She began to tremble, but still she could not turn her head away. He seemed to understand her reaction and, amused, to prolong the contact on purpose.

Finally Keighley laughed and bent to answer some question of Mrs. Camden’s. Margaret jerked back in her chair and clasped her shaking hands so tightly that the knuckles whitened. He was a dreadful man. She would not speak to him, and if she ever saw him again, she would run away.