Love is in the Air – Virtual Book Club

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, bar none. I usually celebrate by gifting silly little things to my friends and family, over-the-top decorations, and sweet flowers everywhere. This year, I thought it might be fun to do something a little silly, a little sweet, and a little over-the-top all in one:

 

So here how it works…collect your free copy of Elemental Awakening (or if you’re a paperback sort of person, just go here and get it in two days. It won’t be free, but you’ll feel good knowing you’re contributing to making sure I have good hair for that FB video).

Then, snuggle up under a throw, pour a glass (or two, #nojudgement) of wine, and dive into the story of Helen and Luke. And don’t worry…you’ve got plenty of time to finish because the book club “meeting” (also known as Mandy gets in front of a camera and acts like a dork) won’t be until March 7.

Keep an eye on my author page. Towards the end of February, an event will pop up and you can start posting questions, comments, and memes. Oh, my. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Any questions? Cool. Let’s have a bit of fun with romance during this month of love!

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Time for a Giveaway!

 

Thirteen has always been my lucky number. Partly because I was born on the 13th and partly because I had a theory, as a kid, that the unluckiest number must actually be the luckiest because people avoided it, thereby leaving it luck-full. While I still haven’t won the lottery with my lucky 13, I have won in Las Vegas betting on red 13.

So, when Steve delivered this gorgeous hickory chacuterie board to be given away to a lucky reader/follower/random stranger who hits up giveaway, I knew I’d have to launch it on Friday the Thirteenth.

Entering is easy. Just follow the instructions on the handy-dandy rafflecopter thingy below. The giveaway will be open for a week and the winner chosen at random. The winner will have 24 hours to get back to me before the next name is drawn.

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Trusting Starlight – Part 9

“I like her, mijo.” Julia Hernandez stirred the ponche simmering on the stove as laughter came from the other room.

“Me too, Mom.” Carlos took the ladle out of her hand and spooned the spiced punch into a mug before adding a splash of rum. He heard his dad try to establish order in the living room, knowing it was an impossible task for even a high school principal.

“And…” Julia retrieved the spoon and set it on the plate Carlos scooted across the counter. Even with forty people milling around the house, his mother’s kitchen was as tidy as the tiny woman with an oversized apron wrapped around her waist.

He leaned against the counter and sipped the spiced drink. “She’s not ready for anything.” He shifted uncomfortably under his mother’s gaze. He’d known this conversation was going to happen the moment he’d casually mentioned inviting Sami and her kids to Christmas dinner.

“Do you want me to talk to her?” Julia unfolded her apron and lay it across the back of one of the four stools lining the counter high island in the middle of the kitchen.

Carlos shook his head. “I think it’s a conflict of interest for you to treat her.”

“It’s not and I won’t,” Julia said. Carlos narrowed his eyes. Her tone was too casual.  Having a psychiatrist for a mother came with pitfalls, one of which was her offers to “help” her children with their love lives.

“I mean it, Mom. No talking.”

She patted his cheek the way she had when she’d assured him she wouldn’t have a little chat with the fourth grade bully who had made his life hell. She hadn’t, she later reminded him, promised she wouldn’t talk to the kid’s parents. “Don’t worry, mijo.

Carlos sighed as she left the kitchen and studied the contents of his mug as if the key to Sami’s heart lay in the diced apples and raisins floating on top.

“What’s the sigh for?” He looked up as Sami entered the kitchen, her cheeks flushed from the warmth of the living room and laughter in her eyes.

“What’s going on out there?” he asked, ignoring her question.

“You didn’t tell me there was an adult pinata,” she said, holding up two small bottles of alcohol.

Carlos grinned. “Yeah, my dad started the tradition the year my cousin got a black eye from a three-year-old when he tried to steal her candy.”

Sami laughed and set the bottles on the island.

“Are you having fun?” he asked her.

“I am,” she said with a smile. “Thanks again for inviting me. Your family is…”

“Nuts?”

“I was going to say amazing,” she said softly.

“They’re that too,” he agreed, staring at her steadily.

Sami’s eyes darted around the empty kitchen. Carlos knew she was uncomfortable being alone with him, but a part of him didn’t care. “About dinner…” she started.

“Don’t worry about it,” he interrupted, draining his mug and setting it down.

“The thing is,” she chewed her bottom lip.

“Seriously, Sami. Don’t worry about it. It was weeks ago.” Carlos pushed away from the counter. Irritation flared when she took a half step back. Patience, he thought to himself, didn’t mean he couldn’t be annoyed. “I need to go see if Dad needs help.” With what, he didn’t know. He just knew he needed to get out of the kitchen and away from Sami who looked so right in his family’s home.

He walked out of the room and into the chaos trying not to feel guilty over the hurt in her eyes.

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Go Team!

A little over a week ago, I put out a call for people to join my street gang – I mean team. (Side note: You do realize if I formed a street gang, we’d all be wearing leather jackets and saying, “Tell me about it stud” while doing our secret “Birth to earth, womb to tomb” handshake. There’s also a high probability of finger snapping and red high heels.)

After reviewing applications, I was able to narrow the selection down to ten amazing ladies. I’m so excited to welcome the inaugural crew of Elementally Awesome:

Sunday B.
Jennifer B.

Julie G.
Sarah G.
Christen F.
Katrina P.
Kirsten P.
Roxanne P.
Cheryl R.
Maxine S.
Alexa V.

(This is the part where I’d be popping champagne corks and pouring glasses of bubbly if, you know, everyone was in the same room.)

I’m so excited to have this amazing group of ladies on staff, so to speak, to help me get the word out. I have so many fun things planned and can’t wait to get started!

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Romance Novels are for Dudes Too

10647191_10205060532105861_4977278825112904127_nThis is my dad.

He grew up running barefoot in the forest of the Ozarks and joining his dad on  moonshine runs across county lines. He has, at different times in his life, rode rodeo, topped trees, worked a farm, cut firewood, hunted for furs, and worked in a factory. He likes his coffee black and boiled and stubbornly ignores the five women in his life as they plead for him to stop smoking. His body is covered in scars from knife fights, he was married four times before he met my mom when he was 27 – once to a Cuban woman who didn’t speak English, which was unfortunate because he didn’t speak Spanish – and was a proud Marine, though he’d say is rather than was because once a Marine always a Marine. He taught his daughters to play poker before they could read, is always armed, and drinks his coffee with a splash of Sailor Jerry.

And he loves romance novels.

He devours them by the dozen, working his way through Sandra Hill, Julia Quinn, Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts, Christina Dodd, and dozens more even I have never heard of. He sits, with a dog at his feet, his coffee cup resting on the arm of the chair, and a paperback in his hand.

11025132_10205061468849279_6891454684742096596_nHe’s always been a reader; both of my parents are. Growing up, I rarely saw either without a book in their hands. My mom usually read standing up, back to the fireplace and cup of coffee on the mantel. With four kids, she had to steal the time to read and her drug of choice was romance novels.

My dad, however, was all about Westerns and sci-fi. Family legend says that when he rode rodeo, he had two beat up hardback suitcases – one filled with clothes – pearl snap button Western shirts, prized belt buckles, jeans, and the other filled with books. He kept carried a paperback in his back pocket, the binding cracked and the pages rolled to fit, and would lean against a barn wall or tree and read a book while he ate his lunch.

I grew up in a house where reading was our primary past-time and sneaking my mom’s romance novels my one act of rebellion. About ten years or so ago, my mom called me, laughing because Dad, retired and frustrated over the lack of books available to him, had picked up one of hers – a Jude Devereaux Western romance. He’d finished it in hours, announced that it was a damn good story, and proceeded to work his way through her entire collection. When he finished those, he haunted the used book store. When he ran out there, he determined that stealing from his oldest daughter’s collection was appropriate.

10433134_10205060531065835_7118001290583067953_n“A good story is a good story,” he says when anyone questions why a leather tough man would pick up a novel about love.

When it came time to promote Elemental Awakening, my finger hovered over the names of male friends, men who have been supportive of my goals and dreams. I twisted my lips and wondered if I should add them to a romance author’s page, if I should encourage them to read a love story.

Then, I remembered my dad and clicked the button because real men read romance novels.

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Do you want to join my street team?

I’m so excited to announce that I’m currently seeking members for my street team, Elementally Awesome!

(If you’re a long time reader, you knew I’d have to go cheesy with my team name. It’s what I do. New readers, it’s okay. I’m a dork and I’m totally fine with that.)

Between the release of Merry Little Christmas and my debut novel, Elemental Awakening, coming out soon, plus working on the sequel and an outline prepped for another Christmas serial this year, this little blog is starting to pick up speed and I’m so excited to share it with you all. If you feel that you’re someone who would get a kick out of being a bigger part of this world, take a moment and fill out the form. (And if you don’t, it’s totally okay. I mean, I’ll just be standing over here on the side of the gym as team captain while everyone avoids my eyes and pretends they can’t hear me when I try to pick them. Not that that has ever happened. Because, you know, I’ve always been super cool and stuff.)

Oh! And I should also explain. You don’t actually have to walk literal streets. You can do most anything from the comfort of your own home while wearing pajamas and drinking wine. Or whiskey. I won’t judge.

 

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Coming soon!

Something about this time of year makes me want to snug down with a good book and a nice cup of Earl Grey, but with the rush of the holidays upon us, sometimes a shorter story is the way to go. I’m pleased to announce a trio of delightful holiday short stories perfect to read while the turkey is roasting or the pies are baking…

mlc-coverUpon A Midnight Clear, by Angela Amman:

Julia’s high profile divorce left her financially free to do anything she wanted, except fulfill the dreams she lost in an accident a decade before. Something stronger than a whim draws her to a storefront in the nearly forgotten town of Warden’s Bluff, New York, where visions of tiny dancers practicing their pliés under her careful instruction promise to fill that void.

Julia doesn’t deal in tomorrows, but Josh, who keeps crossing her path as Christmas settles over Warden’s Bluff, is the kind of man who just might change her mind… if she’s willing to take a chance on next year.

Star of Wonder, by Cameron D. Garriepy:

Ivy Brennan, former therapist, astronomy enthusiast, and self-declared goat lady is carving out a fresh start for herself in the woods outside Thornton, Vermont. Christmas is coming, but Ivy is more concerned with missing goats and approaching meteor showers.

Sterling West is crashing with his uncle at the family Christmas tree farm since his ex-fiancée sold their apartment out from under him. He’s bagging trees and picking up freelance web design jobs while he figures out what to do next, and where the best stargazing is.

Ivy’s sister, Sterling’s uncle, four goats, and the Geminid meteor shower conspire to bring Sterling and Ivy together as the holiday approaches, but connections neither Ivy nor Sterling are aware of tangle like last-year’s Christmas lights, threatening to trip up their newfound attraction.

The Rarest Gift, by Mandy Dawson

For restaurateurs Sabrina and Mark, dissolving their marriage was simpler than dissolving Buchons’ – the dream Sabrina thought they were building together – but nothing about their separate-but-together existence is easy anymore.

An unlikely angel arrives in Mark’s life while he flirts with culinary self-sabotage. Sabrina explores drastic measures to save the floundering restaurant. Both of them find themselves reflecting on the bitterness that drove them apart, and the sweetness beneath it until a family emergency forces the pair to reevaluate the flavor of partnership, dreams, and love that won’t quit.

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