Guest Post — Gina Conkle

How Do You Feel About Adventures?

Years ago my oldest son asked that question while we ran errands.  He was near the end of kindergarten and summer stretched before us. But, his simple question started a family tradition that we all love — The Adventure List.

Every summer and Christmas break, our family makes a wish list of things we want to do on poster-sized paper.  Sometimes our quests are simple: see the latest superhero movie, day at the fair, or go-karts.

Once in a while, we get brave and go big.

Our latest plan?  Tallinn, Estonia for Christmas!

Maybe you’re scratching your head…Estonia-where?  Then you consult a map and see how close Estonia is to the Arctic-freakin’-Circle!

But here’s a few gems to consider:

iStock_000011311558Small-Tallinn Old Market Square decorated for Christmas*Tallinn, Estonia’s home to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns.  Why not celebrate the holiday at the Christmas Market on Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) decorated for the season in Middle Ages style?

Tallin_Tavern*Need to keep warm? Try Black Pepper Schnapps in one of Europe’s oldest still-in-business taverns.  That ceiling? It’s over 700 years old.

*Like variety? Explore a multi-cultural mix of architecture: German built castles, Russian Onion Dome churches, and Baroque Kadriog Palace (when Peter the Great ran Estonia) all in the same city.  But, if that’s not old enough for you…

Old town of Tallinn Estonia*Talinn’s Old Town is 62 square miles of antiquity ready to be explored.  A UNESCO site, the Old Town boasts archaic shops with people still living in medieval buildings.  And the pharmacy? Opened in 1422 and famed for everything from marzipan to “powdered unicorn horn” (for male potency)! Even Russian Tsars ordered medicine from that very shop.

iStock_000004151112Small-Pepper Pot turrets, Tallinn*Do you like wi-fi and a cappuccino with your history? Tallin’s counted among the top ten digital cities in the world. You can experience the past with present comforts. While sipping your hot beverage, meander past pepper pot turrets, architecture that was all the rage in castle building from the 13th century through the Renaissance.

 

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral*But if that’s not old enough for you, learn about war-like Oeselians (Estonian Vikings) whose relics are thankfully found only in museums.  Ptolemy wrote about them in Geography III (2nd century BC), and famed Viking skald Snorri Sturluson recorded their antics in Norse Sagas.

Now, we’re getting to time periods I love.

Archaeologists recently uncovered a rich Viking grave site (a two ship burial) on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and I plan to visit those Norse artifacts in toasty, warm Tallinn museums.

Not a bad list of offerings for a place once described by a Muslim cartographer as “a small town.”

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes going off the beaten path yields the best treasures.

What’s on your Adventure List?

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19129_255294294601511_2017641803_n_(397x349)Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

On my website: http://ginaconkle.com/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/180kL1y

On Pinterest: http://bit.ly/180l9gu

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Norse_Jewel-800pxDon’t miss Gina’s Latest release, Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Helena, a captive woman, wants her freedom. The Frankish maid wasn’t born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her and she’s desperate to escape their camp.  Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her far north.

A hard Norseman who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. She lures him with kindness, weaving happiness that’s short lived. Deceit and old loyalties vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he loves?

 

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 — Christy Gissendaner

Summer…is there anything better? The humid days and sweltering temperatures of the Deep South are quite an experience. Not even Vegas in 106 degree weather can compare. Trust me, I’ve been there! But there is one thing I love about summer and that’s the summer blockbusters. Independence Day? Armageddon? Yes, I was sitting there on the front row on opening night.

            This year, I haven’t made it to the theater as much as I would like. Fast and the Furious is actually the only movie I made it to this summer. But oh…how it was worth it! When The Rock was added to the franchise in the last movie, I thought nothing could top it. But as the movie drew to a close on the last minute of the latest, I got the shock of my life.

I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie, but they topped it. They fricking topped it. All I want to know is how long I have to wait until the next one. Three of my top five actors sharing the big screen? Testosterone, baby, and I can’t wait!

I’m still under the impression that the producers are somehow tapping into my brainwaves. Seriously…all we need is LL Cool J and Justin Timberlake to make a cameo and I’d be in hog heaven.

Hear that Hollywood big shots? I want LL and Justin. No need to perform undercover mindreading on me. I’ll just put that out there for ya’ll.

So what is it about this franchise that makes bank? There’s a science to it I’m sure. Hot cars? Check. Hot girls? Check check. Hot men? (fanning self) Do I really need to answer that? But there’s got to be more, right? Certainly not the unbelievable, never happen in a million years, stunts. Right? I’m still chuckling over the fact that a car could bring down a plane. Although I guess it’s understandable. If you told me The Rock and Vin Diesel were in a plane a few feet above my head, I’d probably do whatever it took to bring it down too. ; )

So are there any other fans of Fast here? If so, let me hear your excitement. And, as the hubby constantly reminds me, we haven’t seen near enough movies lately. What’s your pick for the best summer blockbuster?

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coverC.GissendanerA Touch of Sin
Out of Bounds Book One

Book Description:

Julie Hendricks is a thirty-year-old workaholic who goes to her friend’s bar to meet him for a drink. It’s her first night out in years, and she envisions a normal evening. Instead, she meets Sin, a sexy karaoke DJ who’s not what he seems, and her idea of normal goes completely out the window.

Sin is actually Taliesin, the Welsh god of music and wisdom. For fun, he helps his old college football buddy at the local bar, Out of Bounds. His buddy’s prim friend captures his attention, and he soon reveals more of himself than he usually does.

Julie’s attraction to Sin is immediate, even though she doubts she could ever please a god. When her friend’s business is threatened, Julie must help hunt down the enemy while resisting falling in love with the dangerously intriguing Sin.

http://www.lsbooks.com/christy-gissendaner-c81.php 

Christy Gissendaner is a romantic comedy author and believes that laughter and love should go hand in hand.

Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She is always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!

To find out more, please visit

http://christygissendaner.webs.com

http://www.twitter.com/christygis

http://www.facebook.com/christygis

http://www.goodreads.com/christygissendaner

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Don’t forget, every comment is entered to win a GC to Amazon! + a copy of Nina Croft’s July release, Losing Control.

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.

Home or Away?

Home

Home

Someone recently asked me—if I could go anywhere this summer, where would I like to go? I answered—can I stay at home, please?

But then, I’m writing this sitting in the shade of an almond tree on a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s the middle of a Spanish summer, it’s hot, and I love it!

Summer is my favorite time of year.

I come from the north of England. Growing up, I yearned for the sun, and when I started reading romances in my early teens, I was always drawn to the ones with hot, sultry settings and with tall, dark, handsome heroes; Greeks, Italians, Spaniard’s, all hot-blooded and spectacularly rich (owning their own island always helps). I dreamed of Spanish summers and of one day lying on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach with a stunningly gorgeous, very-nearly-naked hero of my own. He’d be all golden skin and rippling muscles, and one look from his dark eyes would melt me into a puddle in the sand.

So, at eighteen I headed south in search of a real summer.

I never found my Mediterranean hero, but I did find a lovely English guy instead. We spent a lot of time travelling when I was younger but when it came to settling down, it was hardly surprising that I ended up not far from the Mediterranean. In fact, I now live on a farm in the mountains of Southern Spain, which looks down onto the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s a remote area of mountains and steep rugged gorges, where mules still plough the small vineyards, and mains electricity is something they have in the towns. We have no near neighbors and the nearest shop is nearly an hour away. I share the farm with my husband, my horse, two goats, four dogs, three cats, a three-legged Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, and a handful of chickens (so it’s just as well we like staying at home).

I love the area, the people, the food, the fiestas, and the summers…

It’s also a fabulously inspiring place and it’s not unsurprising that I now find a few of those smoldering heroes slipping into my own work.
Even in my science fiction romance, Break Out, which takes place over a thousand years in the future, and in a distant solar system, the hero, Ricardo Sanchez, comes from Spain. And he’s hot—just like the summers here.

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So where would you spend your ideal summer…home or somewhere more exotic? And who would you spend it with? Let me know and all comments will be entered into a draw to win a $5 gift card and an ecopy of my soon to be released contemporary romance, Losing Control.

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Summer Lovin’

dirtydancingI’m not exactly what you’d call the outdoors type. Let’s be honest–I’m a nerd. I’m far more likely to be stretched out in the A/C reading a book or watching a movie than engaging in any sort of physical activity.

So, when I tried to think of summer, it went something like this: Hot. Sweaty. Humid. Ugh. Wait… summer romance!

My favorite summer romance movie? Dirty Dancing! I love to watch the transformation of Baby from dork to sensual goddess. the angsty attraction she feels for Johnny turn into angsty devotion on his part as he realizes she’s out of his league (I’m sorry, I know that’s a cliche–but… it’s in the song!).

But my favorite part–the favorite part of everyone in the free world, I think–is when Johnny storms into the end-of-summer show to find Baby relegated back to the metaphorical and literal shadows where her family is most comfortable placing her. Then he stands up for her, the way she stood up for him, and says that line. The line that can turn every woman from my generation to instant jelly.

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Damn right, they don’t!

What’s your favorite summer romance story (book or movie)? (Don’t forget, every comment this month is entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card AND a FREE digital copy of Nina Croft‘s July release from Entangled, Losing Control.)

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.

Summer Camp Romance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The setting of my novel, Canyon Walls, has a special place in my heart. I loved attending camp every summer through my junior high and high school years, but my best memory of camp was meeting the man who became my husband.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I was hired at the camp I had attended since 7th grade. I moved into a tiny cabin with three other girls. I spent my time cooking in the cafeteria and cleaning cabins. Serving cafeteria food and scrubbing bathrooms wasn’t a glamorous job, but it taught me a lot about hard work. It was also fun to spend the summer among the campers.

Toward the end of the summer, a cute guy showed up at the camp to spend the week as a counselor. We became friends, and before the summer ended, he had asked me on our first date.

If you’ve ever attended a summer camp, you know that the time spent in the camp separated from the demands of everyday life can make it feel like another world. For me it also included the awesome experience of falling in love. It made a summer camp the perfect setting for my first novel. Each day writing the story of a camp director fighting to save a struggling camp allowed me to be transported back to that place and time in my life.

Did you attend summer camp? Did you have any special experiences there?

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.

Wedding Dresses

Yesterday was my 12th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary, Kevin!

I loved our church wedding, and I still like the simple wedding dress I chose.

Wedding Photo

One of the fun things about writing romance novels is getting to create fictional love stories, proposals, and weddings. It’s like getting to plan a wedding without the stress and without the budget. Wedding dresses make appearances in a couple of my books. I love watching shows about brides choosing their dress, and I enjoy shopping online for them for my stories.

The dress below had a large role in my book Canyon Crossing. I loved how sweet and romantic it is.

Monique-Lhuillier-12407-large

A book I recently finished writing, The Wedding Chapel, features this wedding dress in the opening scene. I wanted the bride to be in a sea of tulle.

Tulle

Describe your dream wedding dress. Or if you’re married, what did your wedding dress look like?

 

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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