Guest Post — Ally Broadfield

Eighties Movie Takeover

I have three kids, two teenage boys and a tween girl. They attend a charter school with no bus service, so I drive them to and from school. Add to that multiple activities for each of them, and we end up spending a lot of time on the road during the school year. So the summer is our time to relax and have fun. The days last longer, the clock seems to move more slowly, and, oh yeah, we live in Texas where it’s too hot to go outside after 10:00 a.m. unless you’re a desert animal or involved in a water-based activity. So watch a lot of movies.

This year my oldest son has set a goal for us to watch the 100 greatest movies of all time, except of course there is some disagreement among experts over the 100 greatest, so we’re looking at more like 115 movies. We’re trying to watch the movies as a family, but a few are inappropriate for my tween, and some of them I have zero interest in watching (think Westerns). So some nights we leave the boys to watch those movies and we girls head to another area of the house to watch something else, namely teen movies from the eighties. As far as I’m concerned, the eighties were the Golden Age of teen movies (this determination *may* have been influenced by the fact that I was a teen during the last half of that decade), so I’d like to share a few of my favorites and why it was important to me that my daughter has a chance to watch them.

The Breakfast Club This one was rated R, so I saw it in the theater with my dad and older sister, but that in no way diminished its awesomesauceness. I was still in junior high when it came out, and  I was a Goody Two-Shoes, so the concept of detention and the people who earned it was fascinating and really made me think about people outside of my small sphere of friends and how they really weren’t that different from me (except clearly more brave because I would never have done anything that could result in getting detention).

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off I never saw this one in the theater, but by the late eighties we had cable (squee!) and I watched it somewhere between ten and a million times. This movie was just plain fun and I still use “Bueller?…Bueller?…Bueller?” whenever my kids don’t respond quickly.

Sixteen Candles I didn’t see this one in the theater either, but thankfully we got a VCR in 1987. This movie was fun and just plain silly in parts, but being the younger sister to a prettier, more popular older sister, I really identified with Samantha’s character. And Jake Ryan was my first huge crush. I still swoon when I see that last scene with the birthday cake.

Pretty in Pink Our house burned down in December of 1986. We lived in a rental house while it was being rebuilt, but of course they didn’t finish on time, so we ended up living in hotel for most of the summer. For some reason my parents let my sister live with a friend, but I wasn’t old enough to drive and was stuck at the hotel. Luckily I had my own room, and if my memory serves me correctly, I watched this movie on cable for the better part of my time there. Sure, I had read the Outsiders and all, but the place where I grew up was pretty firmly middle class, so this movie introduced me to the “other side of the tracks” romance.

Footloose So in the smallish town where I grew up in Northern Ohio, there wasn’t much to do on the weekends, especially when you weren’t old enough to drive. Once football season ended, there was just the two-screen movie theater for weekend entertainment. It only cost a dollar for kids to get in and I was in junior high when this movie came out, so of course I watched it about twenty weekends in a row. I still love the soundtrack, and really, how can someone ban rock music and dancing? My twelve year old self experienced All the Feels of righteous indignation and falling in love along with Ariel and Ren.

Which eighties movie is your favorite?



About Ally

Ally Broadfield (1)Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and several reptiles. Oh, and her husband.  She likes to curse in Russian and spends most of her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.

She loves to hear from readers and you can find Ally on her website, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.

Her debut release:

Just-A-Kiss_750 (1)Charlotte Lightwood has one season to find a husband or she’ll be forced to marry her guardian’s loathsome cousin. With no title or dowry, she doesn’t have much hope of making a good match. Sebastian Wilkinson, the Earl of Marley, has been the most eligible bachelor on the marriage mart for more years than he cares to count and is very aware of his duty to marry a woman who will add to the wealth and stature of his title. Sebastian makes Charlotte an offer she can’t refuse: he will pretend to court her to help her attract more suitors in exchange for her advice about which ladies he should pursue. As they work together, their mutual attraction grows. When they realize they just might be perfect for one another, they must decide whether to bow to the dictates of society or follow their hearts.

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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Summer? Meh.

I don’t love summer.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t. (My son read the title of this post and gasped in dramatic horror.)

There are definitely some things I like about summer–wonderful fresh local food, evenings on the patio with a cold glass of wine, lazy afternoons at the pool. I like that I occasionally get a vacation. I like that I don’t have to argue with the kid about homework, and I don’t particularly mind taking a break from hockey rinks. I’m very happy that it’s not snowing.

But other than that, summer feels much like every other time of the year, except hotter and with more bugs. I still have to work. Unlike other parts of the country, not everything is air conditioned in Northeast Ohio, including my house, so I spend much of the summer sweating and uncomfortable. And although I suspect this reveals more about me than I really ought to share, summer seems to me to be full of expectation, almost pressure. There’s a feeling that because it’s summer, something wonderful should happen. Sometimes it does, but when it doesn’t, there’s an odd sense of wastefulness–how could I have let it slip through my fingers?

Nevertheless, it’s summer and summer book lists are everywhere. Many of them contain relaxing, feel good reads, and so I feel compelled to add my own. Here are some great books that fit my summer mood, in no particular order and for no particular reason:

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling).  — I will admit I read this just because Rowling wrote it. I tried to read her other non-Potter book but couldn’t get through it. This one, however, is brilliant.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters. — A captivating debut novel set during the influenza epidemic of 1918, I actually read this one because of the cover. Seriously–Google it, then read the book.

Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis. — Full disclosure time: Mindy is my cousin (about 20 times removed), but I would love this book even if she wasn’t.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells. — There’s something about the steamy south that appeals to me in the summer.

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. — See above about steamy south, then throw in magic and teenage angst.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb — I enjoy most of what Nora Roberts writes, but I particularly like this series. It’s gritty and dark, with wonderful, likable characters and some very steamy sex. What’s not to like?

The Heir, by Grace Burrowes. — Although I adore both reading and writing historical romance, I generally don’t read them in the summer–I save them for winter.  This one, though, is a perfect fit with my summer mood.

Which books capture how you feel about summer?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Guest Post — Shannon L. Alexander

10 Bookish Things To Do This Summer

Summer is here, and I couldn’t be happier. As a writer posing as a stay-at-home mom, summer is a blissful break from the busy school-year grind. Here’s a quick list of some of the fun things I want to do this summer.

1. Take a tour of your favorite book setting.

I live in the Indianapolis area, which makes a tour of all the places Hazel and Augustus visit in John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS mandatory.


Photo of Funky Bones at The IMA. Augustus says, “…the bones are just far enough apart that if you’re a kid you cannot resist the urge to jump between them.” I say, I’m a grown-ass adult, and I still can’t resist.


If you can’t actually travel to your favorite setting (because some of us are still waiting for their Hogwarts acceptance letters), then use the magic of the Internet to make a virtual tour.

Set up a Pinterest board, like my Bookish Travels—Hogwarts board, and load images, maps, restaurant menus, etc. that would come in handy if you were to—let’s say—open an envelope and find a ticket for the Hogwarts Express inside.

2. Make camp at your local library for an afternoon and read All. The. Books.

3. Reorganize your bookshelves.

Mine are currently in rainbow order, but you could organize by author, genre, publication date, book size, or whatever else fits your fancy.



4. While we’re at it, perhaps we could even build a new bookshelf!

Here’s a collection of ideas I’ve started on my Pinterest board (aptly named) Bookshelves.

5.  Donate gently used books.

My children are growing and their reading habits are changing, so we recently weeded out all the “I Can Read” books in our collection (except for the few that were absolute favorites) and brought them to school for the teachers to have. In two days, both boxes were empty.

But it’s summer, you’re saying. What do I do with the books RIGHT NOW?

If your school is closed, look for local literacy groups that may be in need of books. Or check out Better World Books. You can find local drop boxes here. No drop boxes? Simply fill out this form and Better World Books will send you a free shipping label (because they are made of awesome).

6. Create fan art (or fan fiction)!

7. Make a playlist for your favorite summer read.

I challenged my friend Gwen to do this for her awesome Tumblr blog Create 365 at 39. Here’s her response to the challenge.

8. Practice Random Acts of Bookish Kindness by “gifting” a book to someone.

Purchase a book you love and leave it in a public place with a note saying that it is free for the taking.

Or visit your local bookseller, purchase a gift certificate from them, and then hide that certificate in one of the books or on a bookshelf in the store.

I always tell the bookseller what I’m doing. Then they get to be in on the fun!

blog39. Prepare a meal (or snack if you’re not in the mood to do much cooking) for your favorite character. Make sure it’s something that they’d like!

My kids and I just read R.J. Palacio’s WONDER (you can check out our family review of it here). In honor of August (Auggie) Pullman, we’re having Auggie Doggies for lunch (aka hot dogs)!

10. Read! (Duh.)

What bookish things are you hoping to accomplish this summer? Leave a comment below with more ideas for all us book nerds of summer!



Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife, mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables (Entangled Teen/Fall 2014) is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.

Connect with Shannon on Twitter @shanlalexander or visit her blog for more information at Wandering Through the Words.


Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover the solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswerable problems. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy pawing at her until she learns he’s a student at Brighton, where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. And in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns Charlotte is ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull on Charlie is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on, or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second).


About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

What Summer Means to Me

Gate-ResizedEveryone has their own definition of summer and I guess I’m not your average summer person. Don’t get me wrong, I love the season as long as there are no bugs involved. I love beaches, cool summer evenings and how the desert calms as the day ends on a hot summer day. And here in Vienna, Austria, I get to walk through the vineyards on cloudy days while looking at the city.

Yet, I do have a very different perspective as I look at it from the day of my birth. See, I was born on Summer Solstice and therein is my problem. My birthday is the longest day of the year and for some, that moniker isn’t that all inspiring. Except when you spend it in Scotland.

In Scotland, on my birthday, the sun doesn’t go down until sometime around 11 pm and it makes an interesting time. Especially when one decides to stay up the whole night to see what really happens. When the sun does go down, it’s not the real down you might imagine. It just kind of dips beneath the horizon, hovers there for a few hours then rises again. You can still see the light from it but muted as it is below the edge of your world.

So then, just why do people get some all hot and bothered by the day? Let’s look at its history. The word solstice is derived from a combination of Latin words mean sun and to stand still. It comes from the fact that as the days get longer, the sun rises higher in the sky and appears to stand still. It is considered a major celestial event. However, when we in the northern hemisphere are having our longest event, those in the southern hemisphere are having their shortest day. Those in the southern hemisphere have their longest day on December 21st.

The actual solstice celebrations were pagan in origin. Pagans call the midsummer moon a honey moon for the mead made from fermented honey. Mead was part of the summer solstice wedding ceremonies then and the happy couple would ‘honey moon’ the night away. Those same pagans celebrated the day with bonfires as couples leapt through the flames in hopes that their crops would grow as high as they could jump.

Pagans also believed it to be a time of magic when the veil thinned thus allowing evil spirits to appear. They would wear protective garlands made of herbs and golden flowers from calendula and St. John’s Wort. The plants were picked on this day for use throughout the year. St. John’s Wort is still used today to chase away the devil within us.

As Christianity entered pagan areas, midsummer celebrations were incorporated to be new Christian holidays that tried to mix the old and the new. Interestingly enough, those in northern Europe celebrated the event on varying days between June 21 and June 25. It was called St. John’s Day in honor of John the Baptist’s birth and celebrated on June 24 by the Christians with St. John’s Eve celebrated on June 23. In Roman times, it was celebrated on June 24. And surprisingly enough, June 21 isn’t always the longest day of the year.

I know that solstice celebrations vary from place to place in the US. The most interesting one I haven’t gone to was one at Stonehenge. We were near the area on my birthday twice and neither time could we make as you have to purchase tickets up to two years in advance to get into the monument.

Another one I haven’t attended but plan on doing so before I leave Austria is the spectacular procession on ships down the Danube River through the Wachau Valley just north of Vienna. Apparently up to 30 ships sail down the river in a line as the river banks and hilltops erupt with fireworks and bonfires blaze. Vineyards are light up and castle ruins also host fireworks as one cruises for a 90 minute jaunt downstream. Now that would be a birthday to definitely remember!

Welcome to summer…now go out and enjoy those summer days…and catch some lightning bugs for me!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at,, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at

Guest Post — Margo Bond Collins

Taming the Country Star by Margo Bond Collins


He’ll do anything to win her heart. She’ll do anything to keep him away.

Country star Cole Grayson is in town, and Kylie Andrews is less than thrilled. As if months of changing the radio station and tearing down his posters weren’t bad enough, now she has to deal with a town of fans swarming toward the man who deceived her the year before. But when Kylie’s eyes meet Cole’s again, she can’t deny the electric chemistry that drew her to him the first time around.

Cole Grayson is on a mission. Ever since Kylie left him, he hasn’t been able to forget her sweet country smile. After writing a song just for her, he sets off for her hometown to prove he’s not the player she thinks he is. But as much as Cole can’t forget her, Kylie wonders if she can forgive him…


Heroine Profile

Name: Kylie Andrews

Hair Color: Light brown

Eye Color: green

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Profession: Shopkeeper—she owns a Texas-themed gift shop in the Stockyards District of Fort Worth

Dream Car: If she allowed herself to think about it, she would want a Miata convertible—but she’s not that impractical.

Dream Honeymoon Destination: She took her honeymoon a year ago—alone, after her fiancé dumped her. It was a week in the Mexican Caribbean. If she ever heads toward the altar again, she’ll choose something completely different!

Stilettos or Sneakers: Sneakers, usually.
Distinguishing features: Light dusting of freckles across her nose, clear green eyes

Special Skills: Ripping down posters advertising upcoming concerts starring lying country-music stars!

Her idea of Mr. Right: A homebody. Certainly not someone who spends months at a time on tour, followed around by fans and reporters.

Biggest Regret: Walking away from Cole Grayson without letting him tell her who he really was.

Biggest Dark Secret: She stocks Cole Grayson merchandise in her store because she wants to remember her time with him.

Biggest pet peeve: Having her picture in the tabloids.

Favorite pastime/hobby: She doesn’t have a lot of time outside of work (she’s just now seeing a profit on her store), but she often accompanies her friend LeeAnn to yoga classes, concerts, art shows—that way she gets to do fun things, but doesn’t have to plan them, or feel guilty about taking time away from her store.



Kylie Andrews’s Texas-themed gift shop, Cowbelles, sat on the very outer edge of Fort Worth’s Stockyards District, not far from Jimmy’s Honky Tonk. And much to her dismay, no matter how often she cleared it, the wall adjacent to her store remained covered with announcements for local events.

Like, for example, concerts.

She stared at the latest layer of advertisements.

From the topmost poster, Cole Grayson stared out at her, leaning against the edge of an old barn door, guitar at his feet. One booted foot was kicked up against the wooden wall behind him. His dark-blond hair curled around behind one ear and fell down across his eye on the other side. A cowboy hat rested on the ground next to the guitar.

Her hand drifted up toward the image, hovering several inches from the picture of his face. She glanced around. None of the other shopkeepers were outside. No one was watching.

“Bastard,” she whispered to herself, and ripped the poster off the wall.

At least, she tried to. It was thicker than she had expected, attached more firmly, and it resisted her pull.
Chewing on her lip, she took another look around, dropped her bag to the ground, and reached up to grasp the edge with both fists, jerking at it in opposite directions. A tiny tear opened up along the side, and she yanked harder.

Finally, the poster ripped—right across Cole Grayson’s lying eyes.

She tugged at the image some more, glancing around surreptitiously every few moments and dropping ragged pieces of paper on the ground at her feet, until there was nothing left on the wall but a few fluttering strips.
Gathering the mutilated shreds together, she opened her bag and shoved them inside until they overflowed, bright ribbons of color in the morning light.
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About the Author

MBC_fb-photoMargo Bond Collins is the author of contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them. She currently writes for Entangled’s Red-Hot Bliss line.


Connect with Margo

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Twitter: @MargoBondCollin
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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Hot Summer Nights

Everyone likes to do something different in the summer. For many years race tracks were my thing. I know, how smart do you have to be to drive around in circles, eh? Most people would tell you, not very. But it’s not the driving that gets me. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s the challenge of racing. Taking a bare chassis and building something piece by piece until you have a car. Directed primarily by a loose set of rules, each part thought about, calculated into the whole, saved for and pushed to the limit.

At the track, it’s dark, it’s loud, and it’s endless. There are so many tasks to perform before a race, during a race, after a race and during the week. And that doesn’t count what you have to do if you manage to wreck the car. Primarily it’s the mental challenge that drew me. The math, the calculations all done at every instance just to make sure your machine goes faster than someone else’s. I realize competition is a dirty word these days, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

I know how far I can push myself, physically and mentally, and it’s much further than I ever dreamed. Those hot summer nights are something I’ll never forget. The winning, and the blood, sweat, and tears. The losing, the sweet smell of fuel additive and best of all, dinner with friends at three in the morning.RTW 250x400 11.17

When it came time for me to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write my first book, I wrote what I knew. Literally. If I had a question, I knew the right people to ask. I’ve been able to use many of my experiences as a basis for incidents in my books.

This left me able to concentrate on the writing. Exciting beginnings, no sagging middles, and the prerequisite HEA. It’s with a grateful heart that I post about my latest release, Running Three Wide. It wouldn’t be finished without the help and encouragement of the Passionate Critters. Thanks, Ladies!

Here’s the blurb:

Drive hard. Turn left. Find love…and danger.

Sarah Miller has finally become crew chief for a racing team, but her dream job comes with a hitch—dirt late model driving sensation and the man she swore she’d never see again, her old flame, Damon Blade.

Damon has too many women trying to run his life: his mother, his sister and his boss. Getting stuck with a female crew chief is the last straw…until he discovers its Sarah. And that someone else from his past is holding a grudge and determined to kill them both.

Balancing dirt track racing and staying away from a murderer has them running three wide. Headed full speed into the turn, will there be room for romance?

If you’re interested you can buy it here.

Here’s wishing each of you a great season. What do you love to do in the summertime?


About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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