Changing it up a little…

I’ve posted our Christmas Story Extravaganza two times this month, and instead of doing it a third time…plain. I’m going to add a giveaway. Readers choice of any of the books posted in our CSE!

Just come on in and comment for a chance to win. We want to know…what’s your favorite Christmas story???

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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.

Guest Post — Karen Swan

Pumpkin Latte

Pumpkin Latte

Okay…Bethanne here with our Guest Blogger for November 11th. I have to admit something. Today, I listened to “Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer.” Partly circumstantial, once I had the song going, I actually enjoyed myself. *gasp* So, it’s fitting that all those wonderful Christmas books are coming back out of the woodwork. And today, Karen Swan is here to answer a few of our pertinent questions and tell us about her Christmas book. So pull up a chair and your favorite cold weather beverage, and Enjoy!

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A little something personal….

1. What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh? Skiing. I say skiing. I mean belly boarding on a sheet of ice down a Swiss mountain, eating snow and laughing my head off. My children now think I’m a legend.

2. What is your favorite curse word? Bollocks. It’s got that very British Richard Curtis / Blackadder vibe to it and it’s a hugely satisfying word to enunciate, perfect for stubbed toe moments.

3. Do you still have your tonsils? I do. But not my wisdom teeth, my virginity or my sanity.

A little something professional…

4. What sparked the idea for this book? It was prompted by a feature I read in an Interiors magazine about a chic Textiles Designer in Venice. They photographed her on the balcony of her apartment which was all distressed plaster and chandeliers, a plate of figs before her and she was top-to-toe in Marni and Prada. I was intrigued: Her hair was dark and bobbed, mine is long and blonde; she looked enigmatic, I looked girl-next-door; she eats figs; I eat apples. She grew up with a canal outside her window, I grew up with an oak tree outside mine. I wondered how much each of us was products of our upbringings and environments. Would I have been more like her if I’d grown up in Venice? Would she have been more like me if she’d grown up in London? It made me start to think about whether you can ‘shift’ identity with place? If I was to put the same woman in three different cosmopolitan cities, like New York, Paris and London – would she remain the same in them all?
5. Did you experience times when the story didn’t go the way you planned? What did you do? In every one of the eight books I’ve written, there’s always been a surprising development that I didn’t forsee and the books never end up being exactly as I imagined at the beginning (although that’s generally a good thing.)
I always start writing with a good idea of the broad strokes of the story – who, what, where, why – and I usually pinpoint three or four major scenes that I have to work the story towards, but what I can never be exact about is how I’m going to get the story to and from those points.
I deliberately don’t try to plan it too much in advance. Getting to know your characters is like getting to know real people and it takes time. You can’t rush or force it, else it feels contrived and it’s those ‘bridging’ scenes that really develop flavour, colour and emotion – and that’s where the surprises tend to come in. It’s not unusual for me to write something that, even four seconds earlier I’d had no idea I was about to write. When it happens, I tend to take myself off for a cup of tea and ring my husband to get his opinion but invariably, I take the view that if something’s a surprise to me, it’ll be even more of a surprise to the reader.
6. When did you first consider yourself a writer? Only when I wrote my first scene and it actually looked and read as though it belonged in a real, proper book. It gave shape to the narratives and daydreams that filled my head and I realized I’d been telling stories all my life – I just hadn’t brought them out of my head. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t occurred to me before then. Of course I was a writer!
7. What inspired you to write your first book? I had worked as a journalist and written a couple of non-fiction books. It was my agent for those who kept urging me to give fiction a try. I kept resisting – I’d never done any courses and hadn’t particularly enjoyed creative writing at school, although I’m an obsessive reader. But then, one afternoon, I suddenly and unexpectedly had some free time. I was at a loss, unsure what to do with myself, so I took my laptop down to the library and stared at the screen. I had no great inspiration: no characters, no plot, no start point, no hook, no twist. No idea. But then, gradually, this image began to form in my mind of two women sitting in a garden in London, watching their toddlers play, talking about their marriages… I jotted down their conversation and realized, as I read it through, that it was really rather funny and sharp. I could hear their voices, their tone, so clearly; I inherently knew their background and pasts and in the space of an hour, they had become real to me. All I had to do then, was give them a story in which to inhabit, a framework in which to exist.

And just for fun!…

Leather or lace? Leather
Black or red? Red
Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton? Egyptian Cotton
Ocean or mountains? Mountains
City life or country life? City Life
Hunky heroes or average Joe? Hunky Heroes
Party life or quiet dinner for two? Party Life
Dogs or cats? Dogs

~*~*~

Author Bio: Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.

XmasAtTiffanys

 

In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, a young woman leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world—New York, Paris, and London—in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.

Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now, her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

HarperCollins

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Google Books

iTunes

Indiebound

Walmart

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.

Cooking: Autumn Style — Landra Graf

This should’ve gone up during our month of chills and thrills, but I made a mistake. My fault, you can force feed me pumpkin pie later as punishment (please?). For now, I’d like to introduce my friend, Landra Graf, who has written an awesome erotic romance with highlanders. (You can find more info and buy links at the bottom of this guest post).

I love Fall and it all starts with October and Halloween. From the colors of the trees, the scent, the sights, and the events—including football. All of it gets me going.

But my favorite part is the cooking.

When fall rolls around it’s time to break out the crockpot; start baking every weekend and make some ghoul-iscious treats. Today, not only did I want to share with you my latest book release, but some autumn recipes I deploy without fail.

Hot Dog Mummies

These are so easy to make. Just grab some crescent rolls, hot dogs (your favorite kind), and mustard or ketchup for the eyes.

Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats

A little more labor intensive than regular Krispie Treats, but worth the beautiful outcome. I don’t include the extra (fruit rollup) leaf. Also on my pinterest is a link to the Christmas Ornament version of this, which is even easier.

Spiced Stew with Sweet Potatoes

I think I mentioned above how I like to pull out the crockpot. This is definitely one of those crockpot recipes I enjoy. This stew was devoured by everyone. My alterations to the recipe included exchanging the ancho chile powder for all spice, the thyme for rosemary, and the paprika for ground ginger. I also added a little cumin and chili powder to the mix. Finally I put half the spices on my meat and browned them in the seasoning to give the meat more full-bodied flavor. The great thing with stew recipes is you can essentially change the spices up however you want, just don’t change the base ingredients or general instructions.

While you’re enjoy a fall dinner or treat please check out my latest release, With This Kilt I Thee Bed.

They’re not your traditional highlanders.

cover1-copy-200x300Rafe Gordon, Laird of Nairn, is searching for release from the nightmare of his wife’s passing. When Elsie, his daughter’s new governess, brings with her the temptation of passion and a less-than-perfect-past, Rafe must decide if love truly can conquer all.

Innes Gordon is looking for a good time. When that good time turns out to be the childhood-friend-turned-kept-woman Catriona, he finds himself torn between claiming her ‘til death do us part’ or simply sharing her with his twin.

Hamish Gordon is seeking a woman all his own. While his family’s home is invaded with nuptial ceremonies, Hamish is sent to patrol his older brother’s hunting grounds in search of a thief. Discovering his prey yields the biggest surprise — and Athdara needs his help as much as he needs hers.

You can grab a copy at: Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or All Romance Ebooks.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Cover Design Guest Post — Fiona Jayde Media

We’re Passionate about our work at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses and lately, we’ve been wanting to share that work with you, our readers. So we’ve opened our blogging schedule to some of the people who make the book world an AWESOME place to be. Our first guest is Fiona Jayde of Fiona Jayde Media.

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1. What was the first book cover that made you want to create your own?

I won’t name names to protect the innocent, but before I was a cover artist, I was an author. My first publisher was amazing, but unfortunately, their book covers left a lot to be desired. I was releasing my fifth book with them and trying to convince them to use my own art – and created my first cover. It wasn’t great, but it got me hooked. That book is long out of print, but the love of creating book covers came from that situation.

2. What’s the first thing you notice about a photograph or image?

Crispness. Is it clear what the image or photograph is about or is it a jumble of various things? I like strong focal points without clutter, both in photographs and book covers (and art in general). Second thing I notice is details – I love deliberate details that really bring out the image. A small additional “curve” to a letter to make it pop, or texture of an object in the background – those aren’t seen at first glance, but they really make a difference to me. (Yes, I know my answers contradict each other!)

A great example of this is artist Jan van Eyck and this image here:  the image has a strong focal point, but if you zoom in on the smallmirror, you will see a very realistic reflection. I love details like these!

3. Do you ever pick up a camera and take your own photographs?
Does my iPhone count? I’m a terrible photographer, and I’m spoiled by my photoshop brushes. I think that I can take any picture I want and fix it up, when in truth, it’s impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I try to be realistic about how I spend my time (too many hobbies and a toddler!), and honestly, photography never been an interest to me save for what I can do with the images afterwards. Why spend time on something that’s not my passion? I’d rather purchase images taken by those who love what they do, and then work my magic.

4. Do you read the books/synopsis of the story before you begin work on the cover art?
I specifically make it a point not to read the book so not to get emotionally involved in the story or characters. My job is to pull out the most marketable aspects of the book – tropes, hooks, ideas, and visually communicate them to readers. If I fall in love with a character who isn’t the best marketing point for the book, I will not approach the cover with a clear head, doing my author client a dis-service.

I do absolutely read the synopsis and blurbs of books and often consult how to make them more interesting for readers. Before I had my daughter, I was a voracious romance reader picking up anything that remotely struck my interest. Now that I don’t have as much time, I need to know a book is going to hit my sweet spot (anyone got a duty vs love romance? One of the characters tasked to betray/destroy the other but falls in love with them instead? Link me! ). While a great cover will make a me click on a book, a great blurb is going to make me want to read more, and I need to know what the stakes are. It all becomes a circle of sorts – the cover flowing into the synopsis and back again– because they both work together to visually show the heart of the book and the reason a reader will want to dive in.

5. Who do you look up to as a role model in this industry?
Gene Mollica – the man is an amazing cover artist!
My mentors – Syneca Featherstone and April Martinez, both who have been in this business for a long time and have taught me so much over the years.
Luis Royo (who technically isn’t a cover artist per se, although a lot of his works ended up on book/magazine covers). His work has been an inspiration to me since art school.
Michael Whelan – an incredible fantasy artist (and my first exposure to a cover artist). I get a lot of inspiration from his use of color and light.

6. When you put together an incredible cover, do you get the urge to tell its story?

LOL not really, because I already know the story! Most if not all of my work is commissioned, so a cover already has a story. Oftentimes, I get covers where I absolutely have to read the book – and those are a real kick to purchase at Amazon and see my name on the credits. (A while back I did a cover about a homicide detective who falls for a murder suspect – duty vs love trope. Love those!)

A few Details:
7. What can an author expect when they contact you?
Authors can expect a prompt response, clear communication, suggestions as to what is pertinent in the market today, ideas/brainstorming for direction of their covers and general industry know-how and advice. I do not invoice for payment until both myself and the artist are clear about what we are doing so there’s no surprises.

8. How long from start to finish to get their cover art?
My general turn around time for the first concept is ten business days, and it can take another week for revisions depending on their complexity.

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HSG is excited about getting industry professionals on the blog to share their work and open doors for our readers. Thanks to Fiona for being a first!! And now, just for a fun, a quick meme that I think we’ll start giving all our guests to answer. 😀

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Just for fun
:
Leather or lace? Leather.

Black or red? For me to wear? Black. For things around me? Red.

Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton? Egyptian cotton. Satin sheets just make things slide around and you can’t get traction.

Ocean or mountains? Oceans! I’m an Aquarius and water is so my element!

City life or country life? Can I have country life with high speed internet and sexy cowboys to take care of the ranch? My bff made me milk a goat when I visited her family’s ranch, and while I don’t think I traumatized the goat too much, I did trip out when it was time to gather eggs. Do you KNOW where eggs come from???

Hunky heroes or average Joe? I’m vain. Hunky heroes. Although hunky can come in many forms, and confidence and a wicked sense of humor will overthrow a pretty but silent mug any day.

Party life or quiet dinner for two? Quiet dinner for two.

Dogs or cats? Both! I have an 80lb beast and two feline dictators. A toddler and a hubs. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

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.

Things I Love About October

Julie Jarnagin: Hey guys. Can you believe it’s already October? This year is flying by. In honor of the new season, I thought I’d share a few things I love about this month.

Sweater Weather – I love when I can pull my boots and cozy sweaters out of my closet.

fall - sweater

Family Traditions – Taking the kids to the pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating…I get to be a kid again.

fall - pumpkin patch

Coffee – Of course I drink coffee all year round, but there’s something extra satisfying about a cup of warm coffee this time of year – especially a vanilla latte from my favorite coffee place downtown.

Fall - latte

Gone Girl – I just finished the book, so I’m extremely excited to see the movie (although, I have a love/hate relationship with the novel. If you’ve read it, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.) A coworker, and I have recently started a tradition of reading the books that are going to come out as movies and going together. It’s a fun girls’ night out.

fall - gone girl

What are your favorite things about October?

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

Indulge with Alexia Adams

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Entangled’s very first imprint, Indulgence, brings us the romance we want. And the fantasy men we can’t get enough of!  Their new covers show off those rough and ready cowboys, CEOs, and alpha tycoons we crave.  Join us in celebrating the brand new look of Indulgence!

Today we have Alexia Adams with her gorgeous billionaire in Played by the Billionaire….

In Played by the Billionaire, Liam, an internet security guru, pretends to be a regular guy to so he can finish writing his dead brother’s mystery-romance novel. He falls back on his talents and hacks into a dating site and selects a woman to teach him about romance, regular guy style. Problem is, Liam has spent the last ten years enjoying only superficial relationships and isn’t prepared for the real emotions he experiences with Lorelei. Here’s an excerpt from their first meeting:

 

Played by the Billionaire Cover“I’m Liam Mackenzie.” He held out a hand.

“Lorelei Torres.” She put her hand out and shook his. He held it for a moment longer than absolutely necessary, but not so long as to be creepy. The waitress arrived with the drinks and a lingering smile for her companion. Lorelei took a sip; the wine was smooth and full-bodied, and probably not a cheap vintage. Still, if she only had the one glass she wouldn’t blow her whole entertainment budget.

“So, who are you waiting for? Your husband? Boyfriend?”

Lorelei glanced at her watch. Richard was forty minutes late and hadn’t let her know. He was done. “Doesn’t matter. What about you? Are you waiting for someone, or trolling?”

Liam laughed. “I was supposed to meet a client, but he canceled last-minute. I saw you sitting all alone and decided my night didn’t have to be a complete waste.”

“Well, I don’t sleep with men I’ve just met. So if you want to move on to easier pickings I’m sure you can have your choice of women here tonight.” She tamped down the rising disappointment. After the way Barry treated her, it was difficult to believe a man was interested in more than her body.

Liam laughed again. “I’m not here for a hookup, but thanks for the vote of confidence. I thought maybe you wouldn’t want to walk out of here alone, having sat at the table by yourself for the past thirty minutes.”

“You’ve been watching me?”

“No more than I’ve been watching everyone else. My brother is, was, a writer. He was fascinated by people. When we would hang out in public he used to make up stories about the people around us. I guess I’ve fallen into the habit of doing the same.”

“Tell me a story.” It seemed a good way to get him to stay at her table a little longer, if only to forget for a moment she’d been stood up. And nothing to do with the fact he was drool-worthy gorgeous.

He smiled before scanning the room. “See the couple standing over at the end of the bar?”

Lorelei wrenched her gaze from him and spotted a couple at the far end. The man was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that looked two sizes too small. Next to him a woman had on a red dress that barely covered her backside while she teetered on four-inch black stilettos. “Yeah, I see them.”

“His name is Jett, because his parents thought they were cool. And she’s Beatrice, because her parents weren’t. They met at a club last weekend. Under the influence, they each thought the other was amazing. And they’ve been telling their friends all week about finding the perfect guy/ girl. But now, in the light of day, they’re not too sure. They have nothing in common and she thinks he’s a douche for checking out all the other women here and he thinks she’s boring because she doesn’t like motorbikes.”

“That’s not very romantic,” she said. However, as she watched, the woman put her empty glass on the bar, whispered something in the man’s direction, then wobbled her way to the far end of the room, bumping into a woman and nearly spilling her drink. Lorelei glanced back to the bar and the man had already sidled up to a group of women who appeared to be celebrating a birthday.

“Your turn,” Liam said.

“My turn?” Lorelei turned back to her companion and a frisson of excitement shot through her when his dark eyes met hers.

“Choose a couple or group and tell me a story.” At least it would stop her from staring at him.

“Okay.” Lorelei gazed around the room. A woman in a black dress stood next to a man wearing a suit. He had his arm around her shoulder and they seemed engrossed in each other. “The couple over there.” She nodded her head toward the two happy drinkers.

“The woman in the dress that was too-great-a-bargain-to-pass-up-even-though-it’s-uncomfortable and the guy trying to compensate for his lack of height by wearing pinstripes?”

“Ah, yeah. They’re a married couple who work nearby. They’ve met up for a drink before going to dinner, then home,” Lorelei said. “They’re thinking about starting a family but worried over the cost and who will give up work to look after the baby.”

“I can already tell you’re a good person, because you want people happy,” he said.

“So, what’s my story?” Lorelei took a sip of her wine. With Liam’s full gaze on her she put her hand on her chest, fingering the silver necklace her mother had given her on her twenty-first birthday. She pressed the points of the star into her fingers to stay grounded. It would be so easy to lose herself in his eyes, forget what she wanted in life, and take whatever crumb he was offering so she wasn’t alone.

“I can’t figure you out—that’s why I came over. You’re far too beautiful to be sitting here alone.” He grimaced at the corny line but carried on. “And any guy who stands you up must be an idiot. What I can’t work out is why you would date an idiot.”

“It was a first date. I didn’t realize he was an idiot. I’m new to San Francisco.”

“Well, then on behalf of the men of San Francisco, let me welcome you to our city. I’d like to take your date’s place and have dinner with you.” He leaned across the table, cutting the distance between them. She caught a whiff of his cologne and it tingled her nostrils, making her want to inhale deeply.

“I don’t think—”

“Please, I hate eating alone. All that’s waiting for me at home is an empty apartment and a frozen meal. What do you say?”

*~*~*

Available from:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Played-Billionaire-Guide-Entangled-Indulgence-ebook/dp/B00JYZ0YDA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1AN1M7V72CJ3FYTF7FKS

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Played-Billionaire-Guide-Entangled-Indulgence-ebook/dp/B00JYZ0YDA?tag=entangpublis-20&link_code=ur2&creative=9325&camp=211189

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/Played-Billionaire-Guide-Entangled-Indulgence-ebook/dp/B00JYZ0YDA?tag=entangpublis-20&link_code=ur2&creative=9325&camp=211189

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/played-by-the-billionaire-alexia-adams/1119357152

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/played-by-billionaire-guide/id870177984?ign-mpt=uo%3D8

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/played-by-the-billionaire-a-guide-to-love-novel

Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Alexia_Adams_Played_by_the_Billionaire_A_Guide_to_?id=7fZuAwAAQBAJc

*~*~*

Giveaway details:

Kindle

10 Indulgence Books (winner’s choice)

US only

 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

*~*~*

DE1_3471Alexia once traveled the world, meeting new people, experiencing new sights and tastes. She’s lived in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, and France, as well as spent time in Panama and Russia. When life demanded that she stay rooted in one place, she took to vicarious voyages through the characters she created in her romance novels. Her stories reflect her love of travel and feature locations as diverse as the wind-swept prairies of Canada to hot and humid cities in Asia.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://alexia-adams.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexiaAdamsAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexiaAdamsAuth

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/alexiaadamsauth/

Tumblr: http://alexia-adams-author.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7068526.Alexia_Adams?from_search=true

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.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.