- Ann Lory
- Welcome to Blog Bites! I love writing and reading romance of all genres which is why I've created "In the Author Spotlight". That way you and I can find out who's out there and what more they have for use to dig our claws into. Are you an author interested in being in the "Author Spotlight"? Shoot me an email at AnnLory@gmail.com for a spot. Currently, I'm published in contemporary and paranormal. If you'd like to read excerpts and find out what's out, or what's in store for you please visit my website at www.annlory.com.
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Author Spotlight Calendar - March
- 2nd BLOG BITES BREAK
- 5th BLOG BITES BREAK
- 30th Xakara
- 4th J.A. Garland
- 17th BLOG BITES BREAK
- 20th BLOG BITES BREAK
- 24th BLOG BITES BREAK
- 27th BLOG BITES BREAK
- ► 2011 (46)
- ► 2010 (72)
- ▼ December (5)
- In the Author Spotlight Meg Benjamin AL: Hi Meg...
- In the Author Spotlight & Contest CJ Johnson CO...
- In the Author Spotlight & Contest Janet Lane Wal...
- Wednesday's Witty Words from Wise Women "Do you...
- Movie Phrase Friday "You know what? You may have...
- Wednesday's Witty Words from Wise Women "Dear, ...
- In the Author Spotlight & Contest Inez Kelley ...
"The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous."
- Dame Margot Fonteyn
CONTEST: Keep reading to find out....
AL: Hi Erin Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.
Erin: Thanks for having me! It’s always fun to talk books and reading with book lovers!
AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.
Erin: Lately we’ve been attending school and church Christmas programs! I love these—of course seeing my own kids, but even seeing the other little ones all dressed up, excited and nervous on stage, singing all those songs I remember as a kid. It’s just such a part of the season for me! We stay busy with our kids, for sure! Plus I have this chronic condition where I can’t say no to anyone who asks for my help so I end up on lots of committees! But if you ever need someone to collect canned food, socks, stuffed animals—well, anything really—I’m your girl! Oh, and I am a champion phone tree chair, always have ingredients for an emergency pan of brownies on hand and make the most colorful flyers in town!
AL: Tell us, what’s on your author bookshelf for us to read?
Erin: My first book just came out with Samhain Publishing in November! No Matter What is a sexy contemporary about a sassy, strong physical therapist hired to privately rehabilitate a sexy, determined millionaire’s daughter.
AL: Now, you are currently published in contemporaries, but I see growing up you also read a lot of fantasy and paranormal. Do you have any plans to get your feet wet in these genres?
Erin: Definitely, maybe. I truly love writing the contemporaries and have several of them finished or in the works! But there are story ideas that keep coming to me that have fantasy and paranormal elements so, I’ll probably eventually give in! I do think that would be fun! There’s something very appealing about having some magic or mind-reading or time travel on your side!
AL: What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?
Erin: LOL. I had to take a three hour car trip with this woman who I didn’t like very much (in fact, she still drives me crazy!) and she told me all about her ex-husband, how they met, their courtship, marriage and divorce. I ended up thinking he sounded like a great guy and—with a few twists, of course—there were some great story elements there!
AL: What do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?
Erin: Nothing too grandiose! I mean I wouldn’t want anything like a six figure deal, or a TV movie made from one of my books, or to hit number one on the NY Times Bestseller list. Seriously though, I’m focusing on having releases coming out regularly and, of course, getting my finished manuscripts on the shelves!
AL: What were you like as a kid?
Erin: Outgoing, bossy, stubborn, chatty, bossy, creative, sentimental, bossy … much as I am now!
AL: What decadent delight must you have no matter what?
Erin: Starbucks frappucinos! Every day! I don’t know what they put in that stuff but they should sell it on the street!
AL: If we were to look on your nightstand, what books would we find?
Erin: Well, it changes often, actually! Besides the scented candles and scented body lotions (my two weaknesses) you’d find a book about customer service called “Willy’s Way”, a copy of the Romance Writer’s Report (the August issue I think… I’m a bit behind), a non-fiction book my sister is insisting I should read but I don’t want to (sounds really sad! I like romances because they make me feel good!) and then a stack of romances including Lori Foster, Julia Quinn, Lucy Monroe and Erin McCarthy’s Hard and Fast on top (hard and fast on top sounds appropriate doesn’t it?
AL: With the holidays around the corner what's your favorite tradition?
Erin: We have a few! To me, tradition is what it’s all about! Traveling to see family, of course. Another that comes to mind is what we put on top of the tree. We have a star and an angel and we rotate each year. We also rotate which of the kids gets to put the star or angel up. We can only keep track by writing a note and putting it in with the star and angel saying whose turn is next and what goes up each year.
AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.
Erin: “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” (anonymous)
AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, Erin.
Erin: My pleasure! Thanks for letting me stop by!
AL: If you’d like to find out more about Erin please visit:
FEATURED TITLE: NO MATTER WHAT
Adam Steele is good. Good at using his money to get his way. Money always works—until he realizes he can’t buy his daughter’s way out of her new wheelchair. Three private physical therapists later, he’s almost given up on Emily walking again. Then he meets Dr. Jaden Monroe. And his match.
Jaden doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit”. But she knows a lot about “fired” after a public blowout with her ex jeopardizes the donation her hospital was counting on. Now the most tempting man she’s ever met has made her just the offer she needs to save the new children’s rehab wing—one million dollars to rehabilitate his daughter. In return she finds herself making Adam rash promises: that his daughter will walk in time to take the lead in the school play. And that he won’t entice her into his bed. No matter what.
But Jaden didn’t anticipate a teen whose injuries are more than physical. Or a man so passionate and devoted—and as tenacious as she is. As Adam wears down her defenses with kiss after kiss, the only thing harder than keeping her promise will be keeping a hold on her heart.
He leaned closer and she was acutely aware of his lips and the hunger in his eyes. Her instincts kicked in far ahead of any rational thought and she jerked back, ducking slightly and twisting away. Having his target move so abruptly threw his balance off and Adam pitched forward. He grabbed for the nearest thing…her arm.
Together they fell into the pool with a large splash.
They came up spluttering a moment later.
“I can’t believe you threw me in!”
Adam started laughing in spite of his soaking wet clothes.
She glared at him. “What?”
“I did not throw you in.” He wiped his hair back from his forehead.
“Well, you pushed me but…”
“If I intended to push you or throw you in, why am I soaking wet? I liked this suit.”
He was grinning as he spoke and that infuriated her. The first time she had heard him laugh and seen him actually grin, and it was at her expense.
“Then what was that all about? I disagree with you, do something a little deviant by coming to the pool instead of insisting Emily do a bunch of things she doesn’t believe in yet and you jump in, pulling me with you?”
“That’s not what happened and you know it.” He swam to where she was grasping the side.
“Oh? Then what happened?”
“I scared you.” He said it matter-of-factly.
“Scared me? What are you talking about?”
“I almost kissed you, you panicked and ducked, I lost my balance and we fell in.”
She opened her mouth to reply, then quickly snapped it shut again. Was she more shocked that he thought he made her nervous…or that he was right? She began shaking her head.
He nodded his head in response. “Yes. You panicked when you realized I was going to kiss you. You’re scared of me.”
“I knew that you were pretty full of yourself the first time we met, but this is way over the top,” she declared, but her voice lacked conviction.
She moved to pull herself out of the water and he quickly grasped her upper arm. “I don’t think so.”
She sucked in a quick breath, but she held still, even as she realized that was probably a bad idea.
“Look me in the eye and tell me that you didn’t know I was going to kiss you.”
She struggled to swallow as she looked into his eyes. But no words came out. Her gaze dropped to his collarbone and she said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He smiled and moved an inch closer. She stiffened but didn’t move away. “Jaden, just so you know, I had every intention of kissing you a few minutes ago. I don’t want there to be any confusion about that.”
Hot and cold, numb and tingling all at once. She was amazed what a few simple words could do. Though she also realized that it was the tone of voice, not the actual words, that affected her so profoundly. Several seconds passed before she found her voice and said quietly,
“I’m not scared of you.”
One corner of his mouth tipped up. “No?”
She shook her head and pressed her lips firmly together, telling herself she did not want to know what kissing him would be like.
“You’re not nervous at all about my attraction to you and your equal attraction to me? You’re not even a little anxious about me kissing you and where that might lead?”
She shook her head again and managed to pry her lips apart. “Even if you did kiss me—and I’m not saying that I think that’s a good idea—it wouldn’t lead anywhere. I think you should know that up front.”
“You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, Jaden,” he said soothingly, rubbing his palm up and down her arm where he still held her. “But I think that you should know up front that I’m very certain, eventually, I will kiss you and it will lead to something.”
He moved in a little closer, making her press her back against the rough side of the pool. “But because you’re skittish about this, today I’ll settle for this.”
He slid his hand down her arm slowly, creating goosebumps in the wake of his touch.
Then he took her hand and lifted it to his lips, pressing a firm but gentle kiss to the center
of her palm. A shiver went through her and she knew that it did not escape his attention.
He pulled himself out of the pool and shook water from his hair. He stood on the side and shrugged out of his jacket, tossed it onto the chair, pulled his shirt from the waist of his pants and began unbuttoning it. He peeled it off, wadded it into a ball and squeezed water from it. Jaden watched every move, unable to tear her eyes away even when he turned and saw her studying him. He kicked his shoes off, watching her the whole time. She didn’t move. But when his hands went to his belt, she shook herself from her daze.
“You’re not undressing right here!”
He looked around. “I can’t go dripping water through the whole house.”
She pulled herself from the pool and stomped to the chair where there was another dry towel. She tossed it toward him. “And I’m not skittish.”
He began toweling off. “That will make seducing you much easier.”
She spun toward him in the midst of pulling on a long T-shirt, only one arm poking through the sleeve. “Seducing me?” Her voice was almost a shriek.
Shrugging, he asked, “What did you think all the kissing would lead to?”
“We’re not kissing.”
“Not right now,” he agreed. “But that will change soon.”
“This is nuts. Is this the real reason Kathy and Cindy quit?” she asked, naming two of the three therapists who had come and gone from the Steele estate. “Because you were trying to get them into bed?”
Adam frowned at that. “The thought of taking either of them to bed didn’t even occur to me.” The resoluteness in his statement left no room for doubt.
Jaden stuck her left arm forcibly through the T-shirt and finally pulled it over her head and down to cover her body. She crossed her arms and regarded him with narrowed eyes. “But it’s occurred to you with me, after only one day?”
Adam stopped drying off and walked toward her, stopping only when he was close enough that she could see the gold flecks in his eyes. He put one finger under her chin and tipped her head up to look into her eyes.
“Taking you to bed occurred to me the first moment I saw you.”
He had to stop doing that. If she lost her ability to breathe and think every time he said something like that, she was afraid she would quickly lose her professional credibility with him. If she hadn’t already. Finally, she spoke. “Maybe that should have come up when we were discussing the job with Emily.”
He dropped his gaze to her lips. “I have every confidence that you can do both very, very well, but if you’re concerned, maybe you would be more comfortable not being Emily’s therapist.”
Anger welled up in her so quickly she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. “You want me to concentrate on you rather than Emily?” Then she took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. She shrugged. “Sure, that’s a great idea. You can bring in another therapist to work on her rehab while I have sex with you all day long. In fact, thank you for thinking of it. I was just wondering how I was going to accomplish all of that by myself.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “You would have an affair with me and let another therapist work with Emily?”
She took a step forward, her eyes narrowed, pink staining her cheeks. “You are unbelievable!”
Suddenly both of her hands were on his chest and before he could react, she shoved him as hard as she could.
Jaden stood at the edge of the pool, hands on her hips, glaring down at him when he came up for air. “Of course I will not have an affair with you and turn Emily’s therapy over to someone else! My first and only priority is Emily. You’re just going to have to find another…outlet…for your sexual energy.”
“So you’re staying?”
“That’s what I said.”
“No matter what?”
“No matter what.” Then she marched to the heavy glass door and jerked it open, turning for only a moment to tell him, “And, just for the record, I’m also not kissing you…no matter what.”
CONTEST: An added bonus for BLOG BITES readers:
• Read the excerpt posted here: http://www.erinnicholas.com/nomatterwhat.html and answer the question: What is Jaden wearing in the scene?
• Email the answers to Erin@ErinNicholas.com with “Ann’s Contest” in the subject line.
• All correct answers will be entered at Random.org and the winner will be #7 on that list.
• Prize is a free download of No Matter What!
Having a baby gives you a sense of what's really important. You still work like hell, but it's all in perspective.
- Nancy Badore
AL: Hi Vivi Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.
Vivi: Thank you so much for having me, Ann. It’s a pleasure to be here.
AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.
Vivi: Between the frenzy of holiday preparations and running off to a Caribbean island for my best friend’s wedding next week, life is pretty chaotic in the Andrews household at the moment – and I’m loving every second of it. Decorating cookies while blaring Christmas music one day, and then maid of honor listening to the wedding march the next. What’s not to love?
AL: Ghosts, lions and gigolos??? Oh my! Do you have an upcoming or recent release you’d like to tell us about?
Vivi: I do! My paranormal romantic comedy, The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant, is out in print now in the Tickle My Fantasy anthology. Lucy is a medium harassed by horny ghosts – until she meets in-the-flesh PI hottie Jake Cox and hijinks ensue. This was my first published story and seeing it in touchable form has been a genuine thrill.
And, on the other end of the paranormal spectrum, I’m very excited about the upcoming release (January 12th!) of my second sexy lion-shifter story, Serengeti Storm, following the villainess from the first story in her own intense affair.
AL: Do you believe a person has to have a special type of personality to write erotic romance?
Vivi: I think being open-minded certainly helps. You have to be able to put any judgmental tendencies aside and enjoy exploring the fantasy. I believe the readers will know if you don’t love what you’re writing.
AL: Who decides on the covers for your books and do you have any input?
Vivi: The ultimate decision comes from my publisher, but I do have input and I’ve been extremely lucky to get some absolutely gorgeous covers. Natalie Winters, the cover artist who takes such good care of me, is a goddess. And I’m very glad it’s not entirely up to me. I’m no artist!
AL: Out of all your stories do you have one that is more near and dear your heart?
Vivi: I couldn’t pick a favorite! I love them all in different ways. But I’m always most excited about the one I’m about to write. My next book is always the One.
AL: What favorite movie; or T.V. show makes you hunker down on the sofa and settle in for the night?
Vivi: Anything Joss Whedon touches does it for me – so I’m currently addicted to Dollhouse. And I recently discovered Glee – much to my delight. I adore the unabashed campiness of it.
AL: You are told you have to meet one paranormal creature, no safeguards, what do you choose? What do you bring with you?
Vivi: Definitely a genie! Then I could wish to meet more paranormal creatures, on my terms. Otherwise I’d be afraid I would ask for a sexy werewolf with six-pack abs only to end up being chased by a feral wolfman who badly needs a shave.
AL: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Vivi: Most people are surprised to find I’m from Alaska, born and raised. No, I don’t live in an igloo, but I have been to a dogsled race.
AL: With the holidays around the corner what's your favorite tradition?
Vivi: I have to pick just one? Well… on Christmas Eve, after setting out the cookies for St. Nick, we always read Twas the Night Before Christmas. One of my oldest memories of Christmas is my mother’s voice reading that story, and now my sister is the one who reads it each year, with her kids crowded around. I love the little moments that turn into traditions.
AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.
“Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” ~Robert Heinlein
"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." ~Isaac Asimov
AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, Vivi.
Vivi: Thank you, Ann. I’m delighted to be here. Such fun questions!
AL: If you’d like to find out more about Vivi please visit:
Go ahead. Try to resist the magic. We dare you!
Carolina Wolf by Sela Carsen
Debra knows that the teensy amount of witchcraft in her veins isn’t worth getting excited about. Yet someone—or something—thinks it’s worth attacking her. Rescuing her seals Maddox’s fate, but only if he can protect her from a rogue of his kind. A werewolf with a nasty streak…and a preference for raw meat.
The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo and the Poltergeist Accountant by Vivi Andrews
Lucy is doomed. Not to death. To nightly visits from recently deceased Casanovas without the bodies to scratch her itch. Then a living fantasy arrives on her doorstep. Is her dry spell at an end? Not hardly. Jake has been sent to prevent her from getting laid until a particular horny phantom—and key witness in his investigation—pays her a visit.
ParaMatch.com by MK Mancos
Even though she lives without a paranormalady, Lucille has managed to carve a niche for herself with a paranormal matchmaking service. Enter Jager, deposed king of the Titans and successful paratrader. She can match anyone, except him. She doesn’t know that he’s out to negotiate the deal of a lifetime—a future with her.
Witches Anonymous by Misty Evans
Amy is done with Devil-worshipping. After swearing an oath never to use magic again, she’s in the market for a normal guy to complement her new lifestyle. And Adam looks like perfect hero material. Lucifer, however, isn’t about to be nice about letting her go…
Warning: This book contains hunky werewolves, smart-ass women and men who think that’s sexy, magic, angels, medieval legends, inter-species romance, disco music and flatulent Boxers. (The dogs, not the underwear.)
Lucy tumbled out of bed and padded blindly toward the front door to stop the drumming, keeping her eyes closed as long as possible to maintain the illusion of continued sleep. The front door vibrated under the rain of blows coming at it from the other side. She yanked it open and squinted blearily up at the raised fist that nearly landed on her face.
“If you’re an evangelist, I feel I should warn you that I already know about death, and you’re going straight to hell for banging down my frickin’ door.”
Her eyes were still mostly closed or she never would have made that statement. The man who brushed past her into her apartment and slammed the door behind him did not look in any way related to God.
"Karma sent me.” His voice was direct—a take-no-prisoners kind of voice. Very macho. “Did I wake you?” Very annoyed.
Lucy forced her eyes open all the way. Her first, most general impression was of immense size. He was well over six feet and, although he was bulky, it was the bulk of solid muscle rather than stockbroker flab—the worn blue jeans that fit him to perfection left no question there. This guy did not spend all day in an ergonomic chair.
Lucy took a step back to get a better view and try to get her breath back. He seemed to take up too much of the room, her cozy, uncluttered entry suddenly claustrophobia-inducing. He had black hair, cut shaggily, framing features that weren’t smooth enough to be classically handsome, but were all the more striking for their rough edges. The rich caramel tan and up-tilted black eyes gave evidence of some liberal mixing in his family tree, but it was the attitude that really made him stand out. He exuded a sense of purpose and intensity that easily qualified him as the single most masculine person Lucy had seen in a month.
Although, admittedly, sexually frustrated ghosts didn’t set the bar very high.
Lucy blinked slowly as what he’d said registered. “Karma?”
Something clicked into place in her brain and Lucy was suddenly very awake.
Oh God. Oh God oh God, oh God. Karma had sent her a gigolo. She was a female John. A Jane? Lucy felt her face heating up and knew she must be turning seven shades of red, even as a sly little voice in her head cheered the fact that Karma had such excellent taste in gigolos.
“Karma sent you?” she choked out. She sounded like she was gargling frogs. Oh yeah, he wasn’t going to be able to keep his hands off her now.
“Are you Lucy Cartwright?” he snapped again, his eyes raking down her body. He was very abrupt, for a gigolo.
“Um…” Should she admit it? Was he going to throw her to the ground—or the sofa—and have his way with her until all of her sexual frustration disappeared into a pool of liquid satisfaction the second he had confirmed her identity? He didn’t want to have his way with the wrong woman, after all. Should she lie? Prostitution was wrong. Of course it was wrong. But he was so damn hot. Was it really so bad to do it just once? For the sake of her sanity? She had to get away from the strip-teasing stockbroker set. “Yes?”
“Is that a question? Do you not know who you are?” He sounded more annoyed by the second. He definitely needed to go to charm school for gigolos.
Luckily, her hormones didn’t seem to care. They were already heating up and charging south.
“I’m Lucy,” she said, nodding decisively—then ruined her newly confident image by taking a step backward and tripping over her own pajamas. His hands shot out, closing firmly on her upper arms and setting her back on her feet. The imprint of his hands burned through the silk of her pajama top. He was suddenly so close, his heat burning away all the oxygen in the room. Lucy found herself seriously reconsidering her moral stance on prostitution as her insteps melted away.
Then he released her and stepped back. When she swayed toward him unconsciously, he frowned and put out a hand to steady her. “You okay?”
“Fine,” Lucy squeaked. How did one talk to a gigolo? “Um, what’s your name?” she asked breathlessly, channeling her inner slut.
Cox. Of course. Lucy felt her face turning purple. She could not call her gigolo Cox. She’d never been able to talk dirty without giggling like crazy, and if she tried to say his name, she was going to sound like she was snorting nitrous oxide.
“Cox, like Madonna? Or do you have a first name? Or a last name?”
His eyes narrowed and a little frown formed between his eyebrows. What if he was having second thoughts? What if all he needed to derail a long and prosperous career as a deeply hot gigolo was one encounter with her? Karma would never forgive her if Lucy broke her gigolo.
A lock of hair had fallen over her eye. His frown deepened as he reached out to tuck it back behind her ear, and Lucy had a jolt as she realized what she must look like. She’d just rolled out of bed. Her hair must be sticking out at all angles and the men’s silk pjs that she slept in were far from sex kitten material—anything sexier was much too encouraging for her sex-starved ghosts.
Staring up at her gigolo—she could not call him Cox—Lucy wished she’d taken the time for a brush…and a curling iron…and makeup… before answering the door.
Thank God. He had a first name. Jake was a nice, normal name. She could moan, “Oh, Jake, yes, Jake, more, Jake,” in bed for hours without any inappropriate giggling.
Lucy smiled cheerfully. “Jake. Hi.” His eyes narrowed menacingly. “Ooo-kay. Cox it is. So, Mr. Cox…” Lucy snorted back a giggle, “…uh, what can I, uh, do for you?” Or to you. Or have you do to me.
“You’re the medium.” There was just enough disbelief in his tone to be insulting, but Lucy had long since learned to let skepticism about her profession roll off her back. He didn’t have to believe in ghosts to make her eyes roll back in her head from sheer pleasure.
“Yep. And you’re…” What was the right term? Did she call him a gigolo? Was that PC?
Mr. Cox thought she was pausing to let him fill in the blank. He jumped right in. “I’m a PI. I sometimes consult with Karmic.”
Lucy frowned, trying to figure out what PI stood for. Pleasure Issuer? It didn’t really matter. He could call himself Mr. Happy Pants if he wanted, as long as the sweaty, naked part of the afternoon started soon.
Mr. Cox kept talking, evidently expecting no response. “I’m investigating a series of murders, and Karma seems to think that the latest victim will be visiting you. Tonight.”
Lucy froze. Okay, what?
It was a sign of how far into the gutter her thoughts had sunk that it took her a solid minute to realize that Jake Cox was not a gigolo, or a pleasure issuer, or any such thing. He was a private investigator. He consulted with Karmic Consultants and he was investigating a murder.
Lucy’s face flamed with mortification as she ran through everything she had said to him in the last five minutes, trying to remember if she had made a complete idiot of herself, or just a partial one. As her brain scrambled in one direction, her mouth went another.
“I don’t do murders.”
Cox snorted. “I’m not accusing you, Ms. Cartwright. I’m here because you talk to dead people, not make more of them.”
Wednesday's Witty Words from Wise Women
"Who ever thought up the word mammogram?
Everytime I hear it, I think I'm supposed to
put my breast in an envelope and mail it to
- Jan King
AL: Hi Meg! Welcome back.
Meg: Hi Ann. It’s so nice to be here!
AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.
Meg: I’m still getting used to life on the Front Range of the Rockies in the northern suburbs of Denver. After living for twenty-plus years in South Texas, snow is a big thing for me, and we got eighteen inches of it the week before Halloween! Right now, though, I’m still thinking everything is cool. But ask me again in March.
AL: Would you like to share about your upcoming release, Be My Baby?
Meg: It’s the third book in my Konigsburg, Texas, series, coming after Venus In Blue Jeans and Wedding Bell Blues. There are four Toleffson brothers, all from Iowa and all sized like Paul Bunyan. Be My Baby is Lars Toleffson’s story. People who’ve read Wedding Bell Blues may remember that Lars’s wife, Sherice, caused a major crisis at Docia and Cal’s wedding. Lars and Sherice are now divorced and he’s living in Konigsburg with his daughter, Daisy. Daisy’s babysitter has some serious problems with her former in-laws—they want to kidnap her infant son, in fact. So Lars steps in and saves the day (and falls in love with the babysitter, natch).
AL: What is the most difficult part of being a writer and do you write whenever the mood strikes, or do you have a specific routine?
Meg: The hardest part is actually writing! There are so many distractions, particularly with the Internet. And writing is work! Sometimes those words feel like they’re written in blood. I try to write every afternoon, and I set a minimum number of pages I want to get done. Some days those pages just fly by, but some days it’s like pulling teeth.
AL: How long have you been writing and when did you publish your very first novel?
Meg: It seems like I’ve been writing forever, but I started with mysteries back in the nineties (bad mysteries, I should hasten to add). I realized I was more into romance writing about five years ago and sought out my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Those guys helped me tremendously, both with critiquing and with support. My first novel came out with Samhain last January.
AL: Has an editor ever disagreed with something you’ve written and wanted a total re-write?
Meg: When I first submitted Venus in Blue Jeans, Lindsey Farber turned it down, for good reasons, which she spelled out to me in a very kind e-mail. She didn’t want a total re-write, but she wanted more character development and some clearer plot points. I spent several weeks redoing the book and then resubmitted it. She offered me a contract, bless her heart. I’ve never had an editor ask for changes I didn’t think were justified, thank heavens!
AL: Do you have a top 5 actors list? You know that list of men that make you go yum, yum that would be inevitable, if only....
Meg: I go for the classics: Steve McQueen (Bullitt is one of my all-time favorite movies), Kris Kristofferson (circa 1975—he’s a little old for me now!), Paul Newman. I’m also a big George Clooney fan. And Michael C. Hall on Dexter is oddly sexy, for a serial killer. And then there’s David Boreanaz. That’s six, I know, but hey, who can limit themselves on sexy men!
AL: What’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?
Meg: Oh my life is just a glamorous whirl, right? The hard part is choosing the most unglamorous. Let’s see. There was the visit to the dentist and the whole teeth-cleaning thing. Probably scrubbing toilets would qualify, although spattering grease on the stovetop while cooking pork chops is also up there. Fortunately for me, the DH does cleanup while I do the cooking.
AL: Do you remember the first guilty pleasure you purchased with your first check?
Meg: The first real money I made for writing something went to buy a DVD player, since my DH was convinced we could get by with the old VHS and wasn’t interested in spending family funds. I knew DVD’s were going to make it big, and I wanted in. We still have the player, but the way, since the DH is now convinced the Blu-Ray is a flash in the pan.
AL: If you could meet someone famous in either history, or present day…who would you like to meet and why?
Meg: Probably either Julia Child or Nora Ephron, preferably both of them, maybe together. I love both of them because they’re both independent, charming, forthright women (so you can figure I loved Julie and Julia, too). With Julia, I’d love to just watch her cook, recreating some of those classic French Chef episodes and offering tastes along the way. With Nora, I’d like to dish, but I’m probably not clever enough to keep up with her.
AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.
Meg: “Don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.” That’s usually attributed to Bob Dylan, but Satchel Paige actually said it first.
AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, Meg.
Meg: Thanks for having me back! I’ve enjoyed it.
AL: If you’d like to find out more about Meg please visit:
There’s no room in her life for love. Love has other ideas…
Konigsburg, Texas, Book 3
If Jessamyn Carroll had only herself to consider, staying in Pennsylvania after her husband’s death would have been a no-brainer. Her vindictive in-laws’ efforts to get their hooks into her infant son, however, force her to flee to a new home. Konigsburg, Texas.
Peace…at least for now. She’s even found a way to make some extra money, looking after sexy accountant Lars Toleffson’s precocious two-year-old daughter. She finds it easy—too easy—to let his protective presence lull her into thinking she and her son are safe at last.
Lars, still wounded from enduring a nasty divorce from his cheating ex-wife, tries to fight his attraction to the mysterious, beautiful widow. But when an intruder breaks into her place, and Jess comes clean about her past, all bets are off. Someone wants her baby—and wants Jess out of the picture. Permanently.
Now Jess has a live-in bodyguard, whether she wants him or not. Except she does want him—and he wants her. Yet negotiating a future together will have to overcome a lot of roadblocks: babies, puppies, the entire, meddling Toleffson family—and a kidnapper.
Warning: Contains Konigsburg craziness, creepy in-laws, a conniving two-year-old, a lovelorn accountant, a sleep-deprived Web developer, and lots of hot holiday sex.
Jess put Jack into his jumper seat, listening to him crow as he danced back and forth in the doorway to the living room. She slid into the chair at her computer and fired up the Paloma Gaming site. The e-mail from the site owner said that the win-loss ratings kept going flaky. Jess opened her console window and began checking code. The jumper seat usually kept Jack occupied for twenty minutes or so. With any luck she’d find the bug in less time than that.
The encounter with Lars Toleffson still rankled. Obviously, he was looking for June Cleaver. Obviously, as far as he was concerned, she was closer to Britney Spears. Tough. She’d do a good job with his daughter, no matter what he thought of her.
Toleffson wasn’t exactly what she’d expected. Weren’t accountants supposed to be wimpy? He was at least six four or five, given the way he towered over her five-foot-ten. And his shoulders were broad enough to block the light from the office window when he leaned back. He’d worn a predictable gray business suit, but his dark hair had the kind of curls that never stayed put, inching down slightly over his forehead.
The type of guy who probably made female hearts go pitter-pat, if one were susceptible to that kind of thing. Which Jess definitely was not.
She wondered briefly what had happened to Mrs. Toleffson. Probably a divorce, given the lack of sympathy he’d shown when she’d mentioned Barry. Not that she wanted sympathy. But why didn’t people ask single fathers where their significant other had gone the way they asked single mothers?
Jack gave a shriek of delight and Jess turned to look at him. He danced across the doorway on his tiptoes, bouncing up and down enthusiastically.
She remembered when she’d brought him home from the hospital. Small and wrinkled and rosy. Totally vulnerable. Totally dependent. Hers to protect. And love.
She bit her lip. “Oh, lord, Jack, don’t grow up too fast, okay? Let me savor this just a little.”
Jack grinned up at her and did a baby plié. Jess closed her eyes a moment, willing herself not to tear up, then turned back to the monitor. “Okay, time for Mommy to earn us some bread, kiddo. You just keep working on those dance moves so you’ll be ready for your big break when you decide to keep me in style.”
Assuming I can keep you to myself that long. Jess shivered, then concentrated on her screen. Maybe Lydia Moreland had just walked across her grave.
CONTEST: For everyone who leaves a comment with their name and email address, they will be entered into a drawing for a copy of JarDan in the eBook format of their choice.
AL: Hi CJ Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.
CJ: I have to thank you for asking me. I don’t know of any author who passes up an opportunity to talk about her books.
AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.
CJ: Life is good. I’ve retired from working a “day job” and now have more time to listen to all those voices in my head screaming for their own story. I became a great-grandmother in October and THAT is a strange feeling because I’m WAAYYY too young for that!
AL: For those who may not know your work, can you please share a little about yourself?
CJ: We traveled a lot when I was growing up so I started day dreaming to pass the miles. It was a natural progression to writing. My husband is a retired career soldier so the traveling continued. My stories are nothing more than my adult day dreams with a lot of “what ifs” thrown in to give the hero and heroine something to fight through/fight for on the road to “happy ever after”.
AL: Do you have a mentor or critique partner that you work with consistently?
CJ: There have been several through the years but there is one who has always been there to offer a shoulder to cry on or an afternoon to brainstorm. Wendy Ferguson has been a friend since the night we both joined the fledgling Alaska Chapter of RWA. That was 20 years ago.
AL: What is the most difficult part of being a writer and do you write whenever the mood strikes, or do you have a specific routine?
CJ: I would have to say that discipline is the most difficult for me. I’m a definite “right brain” type with tons of interests from needlework to genealogy. It’s easy for me to get distracted by something else. I used to keep a notebook by the bed to jot down something that popped into my subconscious but now I try to keep to a schedule. It’s become easier since I retired. However . . . there’s always something else whispering from the closet.
AL: When did you know you had to be a writer?
CJ: Wow, I can’t imagine a time when I didn’t want to create a story. Even if I never sell another word I would still keep creating those stories.
AL: If I asked your best friend what type of person you are, what would he or she tell me?
CJ: She once said that when she grows up she wants to have an imagination like mine but I think she would say steadfast - someone she can always count on.
Ann: You are the heroine and you have the hero on the island in the middle of your kitchen. What food would you be feeding…nibbling off each other?
CJ: Hmmmm - it would HAVE to be something with chocolate - preferably syrupy so you could cover lots of territory.
AL: What would people be surprised to know about you?
CJ: That I campaigned for a radical Democratic presidential candidate in the 60s - I’ve been a hard-core conservative Republican for 40+ years.
AL: With the holidays around the rapidly approaching what's your favorite tradition?
CJ: Christmas dinner at my house with family. After all the presents are unwrapped and the food devoured my hubby settles down for football and the rest of us go to a special movie. It’s a way for me to relax before tackling the massive clean-up.
AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.
CJ: “Nothing happens without a dream.” However, dreams are like prayers - when they come true the outcome may not be what you imagined in the beginning.
AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, CJ.
CJ: That you for inviting me. I look forward to hearing from readers.
AL: If you’d like to find out more about CJ please visit:
What would you do to save your dying planet? How far would you go to keep extinction at bay just a little longer? Those are questions the men of Anderas live with every day. For more than 2,000 years they have been unable to produce female children so now they must travel to other planets for their brides.
Melodie Smith has lived all her life on a small farm in Missouri. When JarDan rescues her from a storm and takes her to Anderas she is unprepared for the vast differences in life styles and feels overwhelmed and terribly out of place. She wants to go home.
As the two learn to trust each other and believe in the possibility of a life together they have to battle an unseen menace who threatens their very existence. When the evil wizard lays a trap for JarDan, Melodie acts without hesitation to destroy Morandoni. She becomes the Warrior Queen of ancient prophesy.
She heard voices. Strange muted voices. Where was she? Melodie kept her eyes closed and tried to remember what happened.
She was trying to outrun the storm when lightening hit a tree near the road sending burning branches in all directions. A large limb came through her windshield. Jerking the steering wheel in reaction sent her truck sailing off the road, over a fence, landing in the middle of a field. The torrential rains had turned the freshly plowed dirt into a sea of mud.
The tornado coming straight for her!
Forcing her eyes open she stared at the room around her. Beds lined both long walls of the room, each separated by curtains suspended from the ceiling. Everything was white and stainless steel. Strange, she never imagined Heaven would look like a hospital.
“Ah, so you’re awake. Good. Good.”
Melodie blinked as she focused on a very unusual man. This was definitely not her angel. If the wrinkles on his face were any indication, he must be at least one hundred years old. Bright blue eyes, much too alert to be so ancient, twinkled beneath the thickest, bushiest eyebrows imaginable.
“Your hair’s blue,” Melodie mumbled in stunned surprise as she stared at the stranger bending over her.
“What? Why so it is. A very pale shade of blue to be sure, but blue nonetheless. Do you dislike blue hair?”
She chuckled as the blue eyebrows twitched like giant caterpillars.
“My fourth grade teacher, Miss Clairmont, had blue hair but I think it came from a bottle.”
The strange man smiled as he pushed buttons and flipped switches on the equipment panel beside her bed.
“Who are you? Where am I? How long have I been here?” She stared at the smiling face of the blue-haired man. This is definitely not Heaven. Not unless angels had blue hair. Why would a man have blue hair, anyway?
“My name is Sladal and you’ve been here for about twenty-four hours.” He responded, patting her hand. “I’m a physician.”
“Physician?” She echoed in panic. “Am I all right?”
“Yes. Yes. You’re fine. You were suffering from a mild case of hypothermia. Once we got you dry and warm, it was just a matter of letting your body’s natural healing process work. Are you hungry? Would you like to freshen up? Clean clothes are in the drawer beneath the bed. Anything else you might need is in the bath through that door.” He indicated a closed door across the room.
Melodie smiled her appreciation, but before Sladal could leave she reached for his arm.
“Doctor …” she felt foolish for even considering the possibility, but she had to know for sure. “Was there a … a man with me when I arrived?” A fiery blush crept up her neck to cover her face as she pretended a great interest in the seam along the top of the sheet.
“Uh … yes,” the doctor mumbled. “A man did bring you here.”
Trying to cover her interest in nonchalance, Melodie shrugged as she slid her legs off the bed.
“I’m grateful he was passing by when the tornado hit. I wonder if it was his field I destroyed with my truck.” Gathering the clothes from the drawer beneath the bed she turned what she hoped was an innocent face to Doctor Sladal. Not for a minute did she believe that man was a farmer.
“Is he still here?”
“Um … mm … I suppose. I’ll see if I can locate him for you.”
She watched in confusion as the doctor practically ran from the room. Shaking her head, she headed for the bath. As she washed her face and brushed her hair, she tried to remember exactly how she got here. Wherever here was.
Slipping the shapeless grey garment from her body, she reached for the gown that came from the drawer. This was like no hospital gown she’d ever seen. No pale green cotton, that’s for sure.
Melodie gasped in pleasant shock as the soft, silky material slid down her body. The deep blue gown rippled and flowed around her with a life of its own. Every movement sent tingling sensations dancing across her skin from the caress of the fabric. Her hands smoothed the material across her abdomen and down her hips, intensifying the sensations. Soft moans echoed in the small room. Startled, she realized she was the one moaning. She stared in wonder at the face in the mirror. The flushed cheeks and too bright eyes looked familiar, but something was definitely different.
Pushing the disturbing sensations from her mind, Melodie returned to her bed and tried to bring some order to her chaotic thoughts. Questions tumbled around in her head. How did she escape the storm? Where was she? Although she rarely left the small community where she grew up, she was certain there was no medical center in the area. And the man? Who was he? Smiling to herself, Melodie tried to picture a Missouri farmer wearing long white robes anywhere. Nope, she decided with a grin. Definitely not a farmer.
It should be a sin and a crime for any man to be that attractive. Remembering the feel of his arms, the solid mass of his chest, the warn scent of his skin sent a shaft of heat from her throat to her knees. Sensations and needs she never knew existed sprang to life, growing stronger with each minute. His image in her mind sharpened until he consumed her thoughts, pushing all questions into limbo.
“Enough of this, Melodie Anne,” she muttered aloud. “You’re being ridiculous. No man is that perfect. With the accident and the storm, you’ve obviously magnified this man with your stupid fantasies. Now, braid your hair and act you age.”
Pulling the brush through her hair with more force than necessary, she tried to still the little voice whispering in her ear. Most women your age wouldn’t have to rely on fantasy.
Without warning, the memory of a voice became a deep, rumbling caress. Close your eyes. With a gasp, she obeyed the silent command, leaning forward to reach for what the voice promised. Again, the sharp stab of heat flooded her body with a longing she didn’t know how to fulfill. Shuddering with need, Melodie hugged her arms across her chest. Dear God, what is happening to me?
A commotion just beyond the curtain surrounding her bed alerted her to the presence of others in the room. Trying to ignore her growing restlessness, she quickly finished braiding her hair, praying no one would notice her trembling fingers.
Doctor Sladal appeared at the foot of her bed with an attendant close behind him. “Well, are you feeling better?”
Melodie knew she must have made an appropriate response, but for the life of her she didn’t know what it was.
“Good. Good. There’s someone who wishes to meet you so if you will follow me …”
“Wait. I can’t see anyone dressed like this.” She indicated the delicate blue gown that clung to her body, revealing every curve even if it did cover her from neck to mid-calf.
“What? Oh, of course.” A snap of his fingers sent the attendant scurrying away. “Thomas will soon return with a heavier robe then he will escort you.”
* * * *
“I will hear no more!” Roared JarDan, ending the argument he and Dak started several hours earlier. “The decision is mine to make and I’ve made it! The responsibility is mine!”
“I can’t believe you’re willing to risk so much over this woman. Have you read the mind-scan? Does she have people who will miss her? Not even the Prince of Tor would dare break that law.”
“Of course, I’ve read the scan. She has no one. Orphaned as a toddler, she lived with her grandfather on his farm in central Missouri. His death two months ago forced a public auction of the farm where they lived. The vehicle destroyed by the storm contained all of her possessions. She’ll make the trip to Anderas.”
“Then have her placed in space sleep, JarDan. Let the subliminal programming teach her of our planet and our way of life.”
“No. She’ll not be put to sleep so if you have nothing further to report, leave me.”
JarDan watched his best friend storm from the room. At least he couldn’t slam doors controlled by electronic sensors. This was beginning to be a habit with the two of them. What was happening to the closeness that once bound them like brothers? How could he make Dak understand? This woman was special but there were no facts he could give to make Dak believe it. There were no arguments he could offer that would support his belief that she was destined to be with him. He wanted her to accept him on her own, not because of some computer program.
Grabbing a goblet from the table set for dinner, he drank deeply of the rich, red wine of Anderas. A shower and a few hours of sleep had eased the strain of teleportation through the storm. Sladal had orders to bring the woman to his quarters when she recovered. JarDan paced the twenty-foot length of his room. He picked up a book from the desk and dropped it on the bed. He straightened the perfectly placed silverware on the table. He flipped the curtain from the window to stare at the retreating planet. Repeatedly, he made his journey around the room until he caught sight of himself in the mirrored bathroom door.
He never thought too much about the way he looked. Women often commented on his appearance but he assumed it was his rank as much as his face that created such interest. Now, for the first time in his thirty-five years, he took a hard look at himself. What would she think of his looks? Would she see the man beneath the crown of Tor?
Turning his face from one side to the other, he studied his reflection. Using the same clear, logical voice he used with his men, he recited what he saw.
“Six feet six inches, black hair that covers my shoulder blades – hmmm, I need a trim – blue eye, my mother’s nose and my father’s chin. Everything looks ordinary to me.”
Trained from birth to be a strong leader of powerful men, he found nothing unusual in his broad shoulders and thickly muscled chest. He took for granted the curling mat of hair exposed by the deep opening of his shirt. Most of the men of Anderas were of similar height and build. He found nothing exceptional.
“So impress her with your wit and intelligence instead of your face.”
With that thought firmly in his mind, JarDan settled into the one comfortable chair allotted in a travel craft chamber. Picking up the sheaf of papers, he resumed his study of the multi-page translation of the memory scan done on the woman.
No. Not the woman. She was Melodie. The name caressed his senses like a gentle breeze. He closed his eyes and her image sprang to life. She was magnificent. The courage it took to face the fury of that storm was remarkable for a woman. By the Beard of the Ancients! He knew of few men who would do the same. Even drenched with rain and covered in mud she took his breath away.
A soft smile spread across his face as he remembered the way she accepted his embrace in the teleport beam. The memory of her slender body against his sent heat rushing to his groin. His heavy arousal was a painful reminder of the effects of his extended celibacy. His needs were getting stronger by the hour, but he didn’t want the casual relief of a pleasure station. He wanted Melodie. He wanted to bury himself in her warmth. Wanted to melt in his embrace, to come apart in his arms with passion.
Muttering a phrase not suitable for mixed company, JarDan jerked himself from the chair, wincing at the pain in his lower body. Where was Sladal? According to Dak’s report, Melodie awakened more than two hours ago.
Pouring himself another glass of the potent wine, he tried to force his mind to think of other things. He knew from her mind-scan there had never been an emotional involvement with a man. One look at his aroused body would send her running in terror. He had to go slow. Too much was at stake. He would not risk his future on immediate physical gratification -- and he was positive she was his future.
* * * *
Following Thomas through empty hallways, Melodie had to admit that this was the strangest hospital. No nurses scurried from room to room attending patients. No visitors waited with cards and flowers. Not once did she hear the intercom call for a doctor.
“Where are the doctors and nurses?” She asked after passing several closed doors.
“Are you not feeling well?” Thomas stopped to peer intently at her.
“No, I’m fine.” She assured him. “It’s just … so quiet for a hospital.” In truth, she felt anything but fine. The strange sensations she experienced when she awoke continued to pulse, growing stronger with each heartbeat. The gentle friction of the soft gown against her breasts and hips as she walked was almost painful. Even the faint vibrations from the floor thrummed through her bare feet to settle low in her body keeping time with her heartbeat.
“This is a residential floor, not a medical center.” With a slight shrug Thomas continued down the hallway.
Melodie opened her mouth to object but lost her train of thought when a wave of longing hit her. The sight of Thomas’ uniform-clad body rooted her to the spot, unable to move, unable to look away. The term tight ass sprang to life as she watched his long-legged stride. Although young, he showed the promise of virility in his broadening shoulders and long, straight back. Need flared in her chest and brought a small whimper to her lips as heat turned to warm liquid between her legs.
“Are you certain you are well?” He asked again from his position a few yards ahead of her.
The flush of desire turned to a blaze of embarrassment as the wave crested and she was again in control. My God! He’s just a boy! Horrified at the direction her imagination was taking, she forced herself to breathe slow and deep. Mumbling an answer to his question, Melodie quickly closed the distance between them.
“Where are we going?” She asked without looking up.
“Here.” He indicated the door at the end of the corridor as he touched the wall and the door opened with a soft whoosh.
Between one heartbeat and another Melodie looked from the floor to Thomas to the open door, until she looked into the face of her angel. He nodded in acknowledgement of Thomas’ salute.
“Were you seen?”
It was the voice that whispered in her ear during the storm.
“No, Sir,” Thomas responded. “It was as you ordered.”
“Very good. Return to your duties. I’ll see our guest back to her room.”
Melodie decided she’d rather study the ruggedly handsome man standing in front of her instead of attending the conversation flowing around her. She could spend eternity looking at this man. As tall as she was, she had to tip her head back to see his face. His hair hung in thick waves past his shoulders, held in place by a gleaming band of gold that circled his head around the middle of his wide forehead. Never in her twenty-nine years had she seen a man so perfectly chiseled from bone and muscle. Her eyes traced the massive chest and shoulders covered now in a loose fitting shirt instead of the white robe. The neck of the shirt opened almost to his navel with every visible inch covered in a thick mat of soft black curls.
“Please. Come in.” The voice was as deep and warm as she remembered.
Melodie placed her hand in his outstretched palm. Warmth and security settled around her. Just like in the storm, she instinctively trusted this stranger. A portion of her mind told her it was irrational, but trying to understand why was just too tedious.
“I’m glad to see you’ve recovered from your ordeal.”
“I have you to thank for that. I would have died if you hadn’t arrived when you did.” She trembled as much from the memories as the strong grip on her hand.
“Are you afraid of me?” He whispered, tightening his hold on her.
She wasn’t sure what she was feeling, but she was positive it wasn’t fear that caused her breath to come in shallow gulps. Please, Lord, don’t let he humiliate myself with another of those strange spells. Keeping her gaze on their joined hands, she shook her head.
“Then why won’t you look at me?”
She raised her head until she focused on an area just below his chin, jumping when he suddenly bent his knees and lowered himself to her eye level. The barely adequate intake of oxygen she was managing suddenly became too much for her lungs. His piercing cobalt eyes sparkled with humor and understanding. He’s teasing. As she stared in mute admiration, a lop-sided grin stretched across his face. She had no choice but to smile back, mesmerized as he slowly straightened to his full height. No one but her grandfather had ever teased her.
“Better. Much better. I had myself convinced I only imagined eyes the color of clouds at sunset.” His voice was low and husky. “My name is Tor JarDan and I’ve arranged for dinner to be …”
Melodie was still smiling at him when one dark brow arched and his words trailed off. Following his questioning gaze to their hands, she watched her own fingertips stroke his palm, caressing the ridges of calluses she found there. With a gasp she jerked her hand free of his and turned her back to hide her embarrassment. Melodie Anne Smith, just what in the world is wrong with you!
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Jordan.” She whispered in mortification, covering her flaming cheeks with trembling fingers.
“JarDan,” he stated quietly. “My name is JarDan not Jordan. It’s I who should apologize. When you spend much of your life in the company of warriors, you forget how sensitive women are to the scars and calluses of battle.”
Melodie turned to tell him he was wrong. His touch didn’t repulse her. She craved his touch. Her sensitive breasts ached with the need to feel those calluses against her skin. Don’t be ridiculous. This man would never be interested in a lanky old-maid farmer’s daughter. He’s just being polite so act your age.
“We have much to discuss, but first you need to eat. I know you haven’t eaten for at least a day, so if you’ll be seated, I’ll order our dinner. Later, I promise to explain everything.”
She watched him leave, wondering what he felt he needed to explain. She took advantage of his absence to regain her composure. “Good grief, girl,” she muttered. “You were pawing the poor man.”
Heat that had nothing to do with embarrassment kindled in her abdomen, sending fire racing through her body. No! Not now! I won’t allow it to happen again! Think about something else. Yes, that’s it. Think about snow storms or cold showers or Mrs. Peabody’s fat, ugly dog.
Slowly she regained control, repressing the disturbing feelings with shaky resolve. Determined to think only about common, everyday things, she took note of the room around her. The furniture was sturdy and functional, almost plain. She could see nothing remarkable in the neutral shades of beige and brown. Other than a white and gold blanket across the built-in bed and a few books stacked on the desk, there was nothing personal in the room. The table set with gleaming china and crystal was in vivid contrast to the utilitarian simplicity of the rest of the room.
She knew hospital personnel sometimes maintained sleeping quarters in case a critical patient needed extra attention, but gut instinct told her JarDan was no doctor. So what was he doing here?
“Jar Dan,” she whispered, savoring the taste of his name on her tongue. “Now what mother in her right mind would name her son Jar? Must be short for something.”
Picturing the black-haired giant as a small boy at his mother’s knee brought a smile to her face just as JarDan returned with a huge tray.
“I hope you’re hungry. We seldom entertain guests so the cook has outdone himself.” He loaded the small table with bowls and platters of food that filled the room with delicious aromas.
She couldn’t remember the last meal she ate and her stomach rumbled in appreciation of the feast. Praying that the trembling in her hands was due to hunger and not a prelude to another shameful hot flash, Melodie attached her meal. She had almost finished her dinner when she knew her prayer went unanswered. Sensation replaced reason. Texture became as important as taste.
The casserole coated her tongue with the taste of nuts and as the approaching storm of physical reactions intensified, she craved more of the unusual flavor. With a soft sigh, she trailed her finger around the plate. Rubbing the creamy substance across her lips, she savored the feel of her fingertips before allowing her tongue to pull the thick liquid into her mouth.
A strangled cough from across the table momentarily brought her out of her stupor. “Are you okay?” She asked, blinking rapidly to clear her vision.
“Fine,” was the tight answer to her innocent question. “Just swallowed wrong. Would you care for more wine?”
He was already refilling her glass with the blood red liquid. Never having tasted alcohol of any kind, she found her first experience extraordinary.
“This is delicious,” she said, running her tongue around her lips. “Grandpa said wine and spirits would lead a man into sin. Sin tastes wonderful. Why did you mother call you Jar, Mr. Dan?” Melodie drained the wine from her glass, holding it out for another refill.
“What?” He choked again.
Shaking her head at his inattention, she smiled. “You said your name was Jar Dan but I think Jar is a little, you know … different. Is it a nickname … or something?” Her voice trailed off while she watched a lone drop of wine roll from his lip before he captured it with his napkin.
“My name is JarDan. J-A-R-D-A-N. All one word.” He carefully removed the wine glass from her hand. “I believe you’ve had enough of this. Are you ready for dessert?”
“Oh yes,” she whispered, nodding her head. Such a strange man, this JarDan. Drop dead gorgeous, sex appeal to die for, yet he made her feel comfortable. Not once during their quiet dinner did she feel she had to think of something to say. He seemed perfectly content with her silence.
The ripple of muscle in his arms and across his chest was a source of extreme fascination while he cleared the table. When he brought the dessert dishes to the table, Melodie found herself eye level with his hips and thighs. Held in the grip of overwhelming obsession, she started in awe at the evidence of his masculinity, moaning softly as it swelled beneath her gaze.
The dessert plate landed on the table with a thud. “We need to talk.”
“Wonderful! I’ve never had a conversation with a man as beautiful as you. Oh. Maybe I shouldn’t have said you were beautiful. I didn’t mean to imply you were effeminate or anything. Nobody can look like you do and not be one hundred percent male.”
“Will you eat your dessert and shut up.”
She didn’t understand why he sounded angry. She couldn’t remember doing anything wrong but it was just so hard to concentrate. The fire between her legs was making her squirm in the seat. She managed to get a little relief by pressing her legs together as tight as she could, but it didn’t last long.
“Melodie,” he began, “what I’m going to say will come as a shock to you. You may not believe me. All I ask is that you trust me … as you did in the storm. Will you do that?”
“Good,” he breathed. “I’m the commander of a travel craft. A space ship, Melodie. My home is millions of miles from Earth. Do you understand?”
She must have given him the answer he wanted since he was talking again. Melodie watched as he stroked the moisture from the side of his wine glass, wiping the water droplets against his palm. What was he saying about a virus? Maybe he was a doctor after all? No. He said he was a space man, but that can’t be right. It was just so hard to think. Dragging her gaze away from the hypnotic motion of his hand, Melodie followed the sound of his voice right to its origin. His mouth was full and framed by deep dimples. What would those enticing indentations take like?
“Do you have any questions?”
Propping her elbow against the table and resting her chin in her palm, she studied him, drawing her brows together in fierce concentration.
“Do space men kiss like normal men?”
When the choking across the table started again, she raced around the table to pound him on the back.
“You should chew your food better. I don’t know the Heimlich maneuver and even if I did, I don’t think I could reach around that magnificent chest.”
Their eyes locked when JarDan captured her hands to stop the assault on his body. His gaze darkened with some emotion she couldn’t identify before he looked away. When he turned back, his voice was as unsteady as his hand.
“You better finish your dessert so I can get you back to your room while I’m still able.” He gently steered her back to her own chair.
“This dessert is a great favorite on my world but it takes a little practice to learn how to eat it without getting it all over you. Here, let me show you.”
He reached across the table and picked up one slender confection from her plate. Shaped like a melon wedge, it was dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed nuts.
“The outside is a crisp pastry but there’s a liquid center so when you take a bite, be sure to suck at the same time.”
Melodie watched his hand move closer to her mouth. When he touched her lips with the strange dessert, she opened her mouth and took a bite, forgetting the juice. She watched in fascination as the golden liquid flowed down his fingers and pooled in his palm. When he would have withdrawn his hand, she grabbed his wrist, holding him captive. Seeking and finding his burning gaze, she lowered her mouth to the puddle of liquid cupped in his hand.
“It tastes like oranges,” she whispered. When there was no longer enough liquid to drink, she used her tongue to cleanse, taking each finger into her mouth.
With a fierce growl, JarDan shoved the table out of the way and pulled Melodie into his hot, throbbing embrace.
REMEMBER: For everyone who leaves a comment with their name and email address, they will be entered into a drawing for a copy of JarDan in the eBook format of their choice.
Janet Lane Walters
CONTEST: For those that leave a post, Janet will give away either a download or a print copy of one of her books. Make sure to include your email on the post so Janet can get back to you if you win. Good luck!
AL: Hi Janet! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.
Janet: Glad to be here.
AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.
Janet: I've been playing nursemaid to a husband who had back surgery, speaking on the phone to grandchildren in Florida, playing Grammy with the granddaughter who lives nearby and shopping for Christmas.
AL: Do you have a recent release you’d like to tell us about?
Janet: Recent releases is more like it. First there's The Dragons of Fyre, a fantasy romance in which dragons play a big role. My favorite is Verde, the green dragon who is the controller of the red and blue dragons. Then there is A Second Seduction, a spicy romance where the hero learns he has a son and the woman he loved in college is the mother. Third is my short in the Jewels of the Quill anthology, The Amber Dragon where a spoiled princess is changed into a five foot tall fat amber dragon. She must find a prince to kiss her and she has insulted all the princes of the nearby kingdoms.
AL: When did the writing bug take a bite out of you?
Janet: I've always scribbled but until I had my first child I did little more than use writing as an outlet for my imagination. My first short story was published in 1968. I wrote and sold a number of short stories until 1970 when I was told by an editor that my story sounded like the synopsis for a book. My first novel was published in 1972. Then children, four were becoming college age so I dropped out of writing and went back to nursing to put them throuhg school. Once I retired there I began writing again.
AL: When you write do you have specific music that inspires you?
Janet:I really prefer silence when I write, though it's not complete silence since my office opens into the living room. I'm partial to Tchaikovsky and listen th his music when I'm thinking about what I want to write.
AL: Is there an author out there that you’d love to do an anthology with?
Janet: Since I belong to a group that does anthologies, The Jewels of the Quill, Jane Toombs and Karen Wiesner being two of the group I like writing with them. But we always dream of working with writers we admire so I probably have a dozen or more I'd enjoy writing with. Problem is writing short is harder for me than writing long.
AL: What do you find sexy in a man?
Janet: The eyes always fascinate me and I prefer the unusual. Broad shoulders are a plus. I kind of find all men interesting in some fashion.
AL: What annoys you enough to be considered a pet peeve?
Janet: The telephone. It always manages to ring when I'm in the middle of a sentence. Though I try to be polite sometimes I'm not.
AL: Where would you like to travel if you had the chance?
Janet: My first choice is Egypt. Used to be England and Ireland but I made those trips. I've always been interested in ancient Egypt and that's the focus -- sort of -- in my latest work in progress. It's ancient Egypt but an alternate one.
AL: Thanksgiving is this week…what are you thankful for?
Janet: I'm thankful for my husband children and grandchildren. I'm thankful that I'm doing what I love to do. I'm thankful for epublishing since there I can write what I want.
AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.
Janet: "I think writing is a disease. You can't stop it." William Carlos Williams, There is another one but not from a famous person but from my psychiatrist husband. "Writing is an obsession I don't want to cure."
AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, Janet.
Janet: Been fun being here.
AL: If you’d like to find out more about Janet please visit:
Drakon has escaped from the priestesses of the Temple of Fyre and returned home to find the keep almost deserted. There remains but one dragon, an ancient yellow. Vowing revenge against the Lord of Sea Cliff, he sets out to accomplish this.
Arana was once a freed slave in the tower where Drakon remains the sole member of the family. She was freed for her ability to speak to and heal the dragons. Now she is a slave again and is threatened by the Lord of Sea Cliff. He believes she will be the one to give him an heir. His ability to fly with the dragons is slowly becoming more difficult and he must have an heir to train.
Arana sucked in a breath. She and Verde had to leave tonight. She walked to the slave quarters. Each step jolted her body and sent agony along her skin.
One of the women waited in the common room. She pulled off Arana’s torn smock and spread a numbing paste on the slashes. “You displeased him. Not a good idea.”
“I know. Thank you for the salve.” The pain ebbed. She retreated to her room. There she donned a clean smock. She wrapped her comb and a knife she had stolen from the kitchen in a shawl. She crept from the cubicle, slipped along the corridor and sped across the landing field. Before entering the pens she made sure no one was about. By the time she reached Verde’s pen, her fear had returned. Tears flowed down her cheeks.
I still think I should bite him, Verde said.
Arana stroked his side. *Not now. We must make our plans to leave. If it ever becomes possible we will return and take care of him. She sat on the floor to work on the riding pad. Then she prepared a meal for Verde. The pain gradually returned but exhaustion carried her into a restless sleep filled with visions of Lagon and of the lashing that she’d endured.
Arana, wake up.
She rubbed her eyes. The motion brought a rush of pain. Is it time?
Yes. The sky is dark and the moon low.
What should I do?
Bring the pad to the landing field. When we are there, you can fasten it and yourself on my back. This is how. He sent her pictures. Do you understand?
The green dragon lumbered past the other pens. Arana forced herself to carry the pad and her belongings. She crept after him. Each step brought a jolt of pain. She wished someone could apply more of the numbing paste. She dare not stop. She had to escape.
By the time they reached the landing field, her eyes filled with tears. She bit her lower lip to keep cries from escaping. Verde crouched while she placed the pad over his spinal ridges. He rose so she could tie the straps under his body. When he crouched so she could mount, despite the coolness of the night, perspiration covered her skin.
Once she was securely fastened, Verde moved to the edge of the field and stepped off. He stroked his wings three times. Each stroke brought Arana a jolt of pain. Clouds covered the moon. They circled the tower and headed for High Peaks.
As they continued onward, Arana felt chilled. Her body shook. She wondered how long the flight would take. Were they flying in the right direction? The absence of moonlight kept her from seeing the land below. Would seeing matter? She had never flown before.
She drifted into a half-sleep. She felt hot, then cold and finally hot again. Had the slave cleansed the wound? She couldn’t remember.
With a jerk, she roused. Clouds parted to reveal the moon. Arana peered at the ground. Were they moving slower? The beat of the dragon’s wings seemed less vigorous. Verde, are you tired?
We could land so you can rest.
What if the evil one discovers you are missing? He will send the blues to search.
Maybe not. He would send servants on horseback. He does not know about you.
The dragons do. They might tell. I can stay aloft until we reach the cavern at High Peaks.
Don’t harm yourself.
When we reach the cavern I will eat and sleep. Rest now. I will see you to safety.
Arana drifted to sleep. The sun rose and still the dragon flew onward. Arana woke and felt him falter. She must do something to help him. They flew over a forest. There was no place to land. She couldn’t allow Verde to kill himself because of the effort of flying with a burden on his back.
She fumbled with the straps that bound her to his back. Exquisite pain ran from her back down her arms. The knots were too tight. She searched her bundle for the knife. The weapon slipped from her hand. She tried to grab it, screamed and slumped against the pad. There was no way to relieve Verde. If you grow too tired you must land.
I can reach the tower.
REMEMBER: For those that leave a post, Janet will give away either a download or a print copy of one of her books. Make sure to include your email on the post so Janet can get back to you if you win. Good luck!
Wednesday's Witty Words from Wise Women
"Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."
- Erica Jong
"You know what? You may have power now, but you're not God. You're a doorman, okay. You're a doorman. Doorman! Doorman!! Doorman!!! DOORMAN!"
Wednesday's Witty Words from Wise Women
Never forget one little point:
It's my business.
You just work here."
- Elizabeth Arden
(in a note to her husband)
CONTEST: Inez will be offering...one free download of winner’s choice of either JINXED or MYLA BY MOONLIGHT to a random poster. Make sure to leave your email address so Inez can contact you if you win.
AL: Hi Inez Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.
Inez: HEY! Thanks for having me! I promise to clean up after myself.
AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.
Inez: Well, I am currently recovering from Halloween and avoiding NANO. I avoid that like laundry. *shudder* My kids are clamoring for the Christmas tree to go up already. My twins are planning their birthday because turning six is a huge deal. We are dealing with the toothfairy visits and traipsing to my daughter’s basketball games. So basically just normal Mom stuff.
AL: You’ve had a couple new releases in the past few months. Want to tell us about them?
Inez: I’d love to. I’m like that annoying aunt who forces everyone to watch slides of her Yosemite trip. *Look, a jackass! No that is me on the donkey, but thanks!*
JINXED was my debut. It is a romcom and the reviews have been outstanding so far. I love to make people laugh and nothing thrills me more than to get an email from a reader saying I kept them up all night laughing and crying. Those make everything worth it.
Of course, I think it is funny but since humor is subjective, I held my breath after it was released. I have gotten some of the most amazing feedback! I got tweets from readers just saying ROLFMAO DOG TURD TURBAN! and OMG! Tampons and Szechuan pork!
Something I found incredible was that some people said the premise for JINXED was too farfetched. Both the hero and heroine are named Frances/Francis Sullivan. The confusion leads to all sorts of fun stuff. I have been contacted by several real couples in this same situation! I featured one on my website so yes, it does happen.
I held my breath again with MYLA BY MOONLIGHT. I’d had a successful launch of a comedy, but would readers accept me as a fantasy writer? Did I cross sub-genres too quickly? Nervous didn’t cover it! The response has been phenomenal. Every single email I have received about it says the story made them ache and cry, in a good way. The story lingers with people. I think that is high praise indeed.
What I did not expect was the amount of feedback asking for more! They want to stay in Myla and Taric’s world, to read more from that tale. Something about a non-human woman who longs for the love of a very human man touches readers. I do have to admit, the love Myla and Taric share is vast. It was breathtaking to write it! But I swore up one side and down the other I would never write a sequel.
Pass the salt, please, I am eating those words.
AL: Looking at your website, you’re a busy lady. What other works are you deep into?
Inez: As I said, I am deep into a second book in the fantasy world, this one based on Taric’s captain, Bryton. He is a bit more… how shall I say it, earthy, than Taric is. What do you expect from a body guard who kills and is willing to die for his Prince?
I am also playing with a romcom I had walked away from once. I didn’t leave it because I got bored. My computer did this funky crash thing and ate over half of it. I learned a lesson there. I am slowly reconstructing it and hope to see it completed next year.
On my funstuff page, I follow one couple in my Beauty and the Badge freebie series. Everyone seems to love Jace and Dayna! There are seven issues posted so far with the final installment set to come out in December (go read, FREE is good!)
I have my first erotic short ready to head out for submissions so I hope to be adding erotic writer to that list of Romcom and Fantasy author soon. I am also working on a Women’s fiction piece and a YA for my agent, aiming at New York and the big Houses.
AL: How do you decide upon your settings? What about the names of characters? Do you ever change either mid-stream into a story?
Inez: Nope. I am a bit different in that I see my stories in my head, like a private movie reel. Sometimes, there are hazy parts where I am not sure exactly what happens but for the most part, I know from ‘Once Upon a Time’ to ‘Happily Ever After’ before I write one word. It isn’t plotting so much as I just see it.
My characters come to me named and in full characterization, quirks, flaws and all. I am not really a writer but a medium for stories and tales to escape.
AL: What do you feel is the most important thing that a first-time author should know?
Inez: Most important? Hmm… Don’t stop. Finish one, polish it, walk away, write something else, go back to the first, edit and polish it again. Do that twice. When your second story is half done, the first might be ready. Distance is your friend. It gives you perspective.
AL: All right Inez, let your hair down and get comfortable. Sometimes people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. I like to set them straight, so tell us what’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?
Inez: Scooped cat litter, cleaned the fridge, did laundry for three kids and discovered my darling child put half a peanut butter sandwich in his pillowcase…several days ago.
Ann: You’re the actress in a must see blockbuster movie that everyone’s been waiting all summer for. 1) What’s the movie about? 2) Who’s your character? 3) And who’s your leading man?
An epic tale of love lost, battled for and refound.
I’d probably be the sarcastic colorful sidekick with all the cool lines
An unknown hottie with a voice to melt butter
AL: Fall is here! What’s your favorite part of the season?
Inez: Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love when it is cold enough to have a fire, wear thick sweats, eat homemade soups and bake!
AL: When you have time just for you (if only) what do you do?
Inez: I forget. It has been a while. I would probably pick read.
AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.
Inez: "Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."
~ by Anonymous ~
AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, Inez.
Inez: Thanks for having me!
AL: If you’d like to find out more about Inez please visit:
Created at Prince Taric’s birth, Myla is a spell, an enchantment designed to appear and protect him when he needs it most. She has always been content to do her duty…until one night of forbidden passion leaves her longing to experience life—and love—as a mortal woman. Yet the risk is too great. Even if her blood runs as red as his, she can never give him the one thing he needs: a child.
Taric’s blessing—and his curse—is knowing the kingdom’s future depends on his producing an heir to continue the bloodline. His bond with Myla has always been that of protector and protected. When it suddenly becomes something much more, he unwittingly sentences his people to certain death.
An old enemy is plotting to destroy all he holds dear: his lands, his people, his father, and his lover. And this time, even if they fight tooth and blade, their shared magic may not be enough to save them…
Warning: This book contains a shape-shifting bodyguard, sizzling sex scenes, supernatural lilac mist, swordfighting and heartbreaking sacrifices. No jaguars were harmed in the writing of this story.
“Would you cease to be prince if you had a choice?”
“It’s not a choice I was ever given. No, I like the role enough, have been taught from birth what’s required of me and don’t know any other way. I just wonder what being a prince in a time of quiet is like or will I always be a ruler in wartime?” He flung the blade of grass, now twisted and limp, far into the wind. “But enough war talk. Tell me about you.”
“Me?” Myla halted abruptly and he walked a pace ahead before turning to her. “You know all there is to know of me.”
Tall butter-yellow wildflowers danced in the breeze and he ran a skimming hand over the tops, stirring them further. A bright orange-and-black butterfly flitted about his head and he batted it away with a flick.
The play of colors around him—the shading of a single hue into a million dimensions—captivated her. Somewhere in her breast a fire grew, cast from those same brilliant tones from copper to cream. It warmed her from within like the sunbeams warmed her flesh. Taric was beautiful, golden among the yellow.
One delicate bloom plucked from a willowy stalk appeared before her eyes, held in a hand she longed to feel touch her once more. She took his offering with hesitant fingers.
“I know nothing about you, Myla. Well, I know you’re fierce and stronger than any man. You’re a beautiful woman or a massive cat. Strawberries and blackberries make you close your eyes in pleasure. If needed, you have and will kill to protect me.” His curious eyes searched her face for more. “But tell me about you. Do you dream, Myla? When you’re part of me, do you miss the sunshine? Are you ever apart from me without my knowing? Have you ever thought of me in any other way than a duty?”
Words locked in her throat and choked her. She existed for no reason other than to serve as his guardian. She knew everything about him yet nothing of what made him how he was. They were closer than two beings ever should be and yet separate and alone. Sadness touched her, a butterfly of rainbowed beauty drenched by a sudden rainfall. Steeling her face to hide her emotion, she cocked her head to the side.
“I do not dream within you. I accepted this duty and I stand guard. Sunshine touches your flesh and I know of its warmth through you. I am with you every minute, Taric, even if you do not behold me with your eyes.”
Something close to anger colored his face and he jumped in front of her, his chest brushing her breasts. Vehemence emanated from his body in sheets of blistering heat. No, not anger, something…close…burning…needing. “But have you ever thought about me as other than a prize to be protected?”
Myla didn’t have the ability to lie to him but strategic maneuvers could be employed. The wilting flower became a tool of distraction and she twirled it between her fingers. The spinning buttery color quivered with her fraud. “I do not allow those thoughts to linger in my mind.”
A dimple appeared above his jaw and the right side of his lip inched upward. “But you have felt…something for me other than protectiveness?”
Lips parted, she remained silent. For all the strength in her supernatural structure, she couldn’t break from his gaze. She saw herself reflected in pools of burnt umber, reminding her she belonged within him. Then the image was gone as he angled his head. His mouth pressed to hers, the burst of blackberry vivid and potent.
So this is how his kiss feels…like magic. Without thought, she mimicked his motion, tasting his lips and then allowing her tongue to touch and stroke his. Heat arced between them, a power she didn’t recognize but one that consumed her. He nibbled the lip he’d touched earlier, his fingers straying to her cheek, firm and gentle. A quiver grew from her marrow and spread, wracking her bones, and she trembled in sudden fear.
The pale yellow flower fell to the ground. Taric was her charge, her responsibility. She should not behave in this manner with him. Only the magnetic lure of his touch held her within this realm, halting her escape. He felt so…right. It was so wrong.
Taric shifted and tried to pull her closer, his arm around her waist, but she pushed away from him. “Do not. I should not have allowed that to happen. It can not happen again.”
The question threw her. Why? Because… She floundered, searching for why his touch should be forbidden, why she could not submit to the raging beat of her pulse, why she could not bask in the taste of his kiss. He was long past the age of manhood and could choose his own path. If he wanted a woman, he had the right to take her be she willing. Myla reluctantly admitted she was most willing to step into his kiss once more. But she was not a woman. Not really.
“I am not real, Taric. I am an enchantment, a spell designed for your protection, not your pleasure.”
Flushed color drained from his face at her breathless words.
“I bid you farewell, my charge.” She drew on every smidgeon of control not to zing back inside his mark. A tiny breath of lilac vapor swirled regretfully through the yellow blossoms before it too trickled into his body. Sorrow turned the last wisps to dark violet.
REMEMBER: Inez will be offering...one free download of winner’s choice of either JINXED or MYLA BY MOONLIGHT to a random poster. Make sure to leave your email address so Inez can contact you if you win.