Halloween Blogfest Jennifer Ann Coffeen

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Curse of the French Blue diamond
Whenever fall arrives I find myself in the mood for pumpkin bread, spiced lattes, and the scariest ghost stories I can find. Don’t get me wrong, I am terrified of anything that goes bump in the night, but I still love reading about the supernatural. Ancient curses, haunted mansions, and spooky old legends are my favorite. A few years ago I became fascinated by the curse of the French Blue diamond. This rare and priceless stone is known to many as the Hope Diamond and resides in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Before it became a beloved tourist attraction the French Blue left behind a bloody and terrifying trail.

The curse begins in 1642 when a Frenchman named Jean Baptiste Tavernier plucked the enormous blue diamond from the eye of an idol during his travels in India. After returning to France and selling the diamond to King Louie XIV, Tavernier continued his travels to Russia where he was reportedly ripped to pieces by wild dogs as punishment for removing the stone. The diamond was later re-cut and passed down to Louie XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. Both were executed by the guillotine during the French Revolution and many believe it was the diamond’s curse that caused such a violent end. After the French Blue was stolen from France it remained lost until 1812, when it mysteriously appeared for sale in London. There are rumors it was purchased by King George IV, and several paintings portray him wearing a very large blue stone in a pendant.

The French Blue eventually resurfaced in America in the hands of Henry Philip Hope and was renamed the Hope Diamond. The curse soon struck again, as the once wealthy Hope family went completely bankrupt after taking possession of the diamond.

In 1910 Pierre Cartier sold the diamond to Evalyn Walsh McLean who proclaimed the cursed gem her good luck charm. According to legend the wealthy woman was obsessed with the blue diamond, refusing to take it off even for surgery. Sadly, it not the good luck she wished for. Evalyn’s family had their own share of tragedy when her first born died in a car crash, her daughter committed suicide, and her husband was confined to a mental institution. Many saw this as the long fingers of the diamond’s curse, but Evalyn stubbornly wore the diamond until she died. It was sold in 1941 to settle debts from her estate and purchased by Harry Winston. Winston wanted nothing to do with the diamond’s curse and later, some say for mysterious reasons, offered to donate the diamond to the Smithsonian Museum.

Leave a comment for a chance to win Priceless Deception.

About the Author:

Jennifer Ann Coffeen is a published author currently living in Chicago. Her novel Priceless Deception and novella Lover’s Gamble are both available now from The Wild Rose Press. Her work has been featured regularly at the kates, a group of women solo performers who perform the last Saturday of every month at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Jennifer is a founding member of the kates, and has also written and performed original work as part of Numbskull, the Human Blockhead; The Muffin Basket Cases; and Beastwomen Female Cabaret. She is a graduate of Columbia College, and has studied at Story Studio Chicago, where she also works as part of the Chicago Literary Alliance. Jennifer is currently working on a sequel to Priceless Deception. Visit her online at JenniferAnnCoffeen.com, www.facebook.com/JenniferAnnCoffeen, and @jencoffeen.

GUEST BLOG: ALI McNAMARA

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My most Embarrassing moment
When I was younger, I was at a big outdoor pop concert. I’d got there really early in the morning and had queued with my friends all day so we could be right at the front of stage when the concert began in the evening.

About two hours before the concert began, the gates where we’d been queuing all day were due to be opened, and we knew we had to run across a large field to get to the stage first before all the other fans waiting behind us.

I was a fitness instructor in those days, so I prided myself on my fitness. It wasn’t just about getting to the front for me; it was about getting there first.

As the gates finally opened, and I began to sprint across the field, I was indeed way out in front of all my ‘competitors.’ It was just as well I was, as while I was running the 150meters or so, I suffered what’s now become known as a ‘wardrobe malfunction.’

What could I do? I couldn’t stop, I was flying at full pelt across a field with hundreds of other girls and women hurtling after me, so I did the only thing I could, I ran the rest of the way to the luckily deserted stage, feeling slightly free-er up top on one side than I should have been…

When I got to the stage, (first of course!!) I quickly adjusted my bra, put everything back where it should have been, and no one was ever any the wiser… until now that is!

Ali McNamara

www.alimcnamara.co.uk

Twitter @alimcnamara

 

GUEST BLOG: ALEXA BOURNE

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POST
When my friend Camryn Rhys first told me her publisher was looking for submissions set in foreign countries and with local flavor, I wanted to jump for joy. I was sure I’d finally found my niche. I love to travel, have been fortunate enough to see many intriguing places, and now I had somewhere to share all that information.

My first book, Her Highland Champion, is a romantic suspense story about an American heroine who loses her memory while in the Scottish Highlands and the Scottish hero who finds her. Setting Champion in Scotland was an easy choice. Great Britain holds a huge piece of my soul.

My fascination with the UK stems from my family. My mother grew up in northern England. At 16, she came to the United States with my grandparents, leaving behind everything she knew and loved, including a lot of family. Over the years, I’ve had several chances to visit my relatives starting with a 6-week trip with my grandmother when I was 10. Exploring the culture of a country that spoke my language and yet didn’t was an amazing and eye-opening experience that summer. While my grandparents were alive, I treasured the British stories and customs they shared with me. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel back to England with my mother to some of the places she frequented as a child. To say I cherish that connection to my heritage will forever be an understatement.

Now, granted Her Highland Champion is set in Scotland instead of England and I don’t have Scottish relatives, BUT I’ve visited Scotland enough, with and without my mother, that it also grabbed me. My second book, Fractured Paradise, is set in my mom’s hometown of Sunderland, and next year I hope to write a story set in Ireland. To put it simply, I’ve chosen to use Britain as the setting of my first few books so I can share what I love about the UK with readers. For me, it’s a way to give back to the people and places that have settled into my heart.

About the Author:

Alexa Bourne is a teacher by day and a romantic suspense writer by nights, weekends, and all school holidays. She also teaches online classes for writers throughout the year. She is thrilled to be writing for Decadent Publishing and to have the chance to share her love of Great Britain with readers everywhere. When she’s not concocting sinister plots and steamy love scenes or traveling and exploring new cultures, Alexa spends her time reading, watching brainless TV and thinking about exercising. www.alexabourne.com

A Decadent Honor Guard story….

Heather Winchester leads a charming life. With good friends, a beautiful flat in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and a promising future once she finishes her Ph.D, she is finally pursuing her own dreams instead of catering to everyone else’s…except she doesn’t remember any of it.

Malcolm Fraser has returned to his Highland village to forget his failings as a professional bodyguard. Believing he could just lose himself in the mundane activities of running his bed & breakfast, he finds a woman’s lifeless body by the loch instead….

Captivated by Heather as she regains her memory, Malcolm is thrown into the line of duty. As danger comes knocking on their door, will he be strong enough to love her and keep her safe?

GUEST BLOG: ANGELA RENEE

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Expectations
Before I decided to release my debut novel, I did a lot of research on traditional and self-publishing. My research took me through numerous books. I spoke with authors (self and traditionally published), editors, agents, publishers, distributors, printers, bookstores, marketing experts… Needless to say, I didn’t go into this publishing thing lightly.

I learned the business side of publishing the best I could and knew what to expect each step of the process of my self-publishing journey. Now don’t get me wrong. As I actually went through the process, there were areas that gave me pause, but nothing major. I am grateful to the people in the industry who beat it into my head to learn the business aspect of publishing along with the craft of writing.

Here comes the shady part, the part that lurks in the corner and is hard to see. Okay, it’s worse than hard; it’s impossible to see. What happens after your release? If you promote, your novel may or may not do well. As people read and enjoy or dislike your novel, they may or may not tell others, may or may not post reviews. If you’ve requested reviews, they may or may not review your title. If you spread the word to your family and friends, they may purchase your novel, ask you to send them free books and/or spread the word… So many unknowns to add to the equation.

So what to expect? I like knowing what to expect. I guess I’m a bit of a control freak. My research into publishing should give you a glimpse of just how much I like to know what to expect. So this waiting to see what will happen after the release has been… shall we say… exciting! Oh my goodness. Didn’t expect that, did yah? Seriously though, in life I have learned to prepare for what I can and do the best that I can with the rest that comes my way.

What does this life lesson have to do with my debut novel, You Are Mine? Expectations. The heroine in You Are Mine is hit with serious expectation shortfalls. The entire universe is different that she had “known.” How do you react when you don’t know what to expect?

Here’s a little about my debut Sci-Fi Romance novel, You Are Mine. I hope you enjoy and please spread the word about it.

In the hundreds of special assignments Erica Morgan has worked, there was nothing that prepared her for waking one morning on an alien spaceship. More surprisingly, her captor and adversary, the leader of this mission, is the one man who could make her want to leave her home planet and embrace a different life.

D’Jarus Commodore doesn’t want a wife, but his planet is slowly dying, and their salvation lies in the people of Earth. As leader of Darien, he chooses to make a sacrifice and be the first to marry a terran. His captive bride, Erica, is like no other being he has ever met. At first sight he knows he must have her, but for obvious reasons—he did kidnap her after all—she resists him every step of the way.

Website/Blog: http://www.authorangelarenee.com/
Buy links: Purchase the Print Version ($9.99) or the electronic version Nook, Kindle ($3.99)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Angela-Renee/224764087637836

Twitter:http://twitter.com/#!/angelareneebook

Thank you for allowing me to take over your piece of the cyber world.

GUEST BLOG: AIMEE LAINE

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If I’d never heard of me would I read my book?

This is an amazing question that forces me to really look inside me and my books. At present, with the release of Surrender, I have three novels out, all paranormal romance because that’s the genre that I love. I also, though, have a YA book about to release in October, under another pen name.

When I look at these four books, it’s very hard to be subjective! I look at the beautiful covers and thing, yes! I would read these!

Then I look at the blurbs and I think, yes! I would read these books even more!

But that’s me. Me the author. Me the writer who poured blood, sweat and tears …, okay, no blood or even sweat, but definitely tears into some of these.

When I think about books that I’ve fallen most for though, books that aren’t mine, the first thing that captures me is the cover. If that’s not rockin’ I’m not lookin’. No matter who the author is, if the cover stinks, I can’t get past it. Yes, I totally realize this is ridiculous, that there are loads of great stories inside so-so covers, but I’m me. I’m very visual. Covers gotta rock my socks.

So if I think about my books, I’m still in the ‘win’ category.

Then, I go and read the blurbs. If the blurbs don’t draw me in, again, I’ll reshelve a book. For example, if there are errors in a blurb or it makes no sense or it has absolutely nothing to do with the cover, I start to wonder who put it together and what were they thinking and would the story have the same ‘issues’? Again, totally a subjective thing, but it’s something really does hit me any time I pick up a book.

Again, by any author.

So for me, I feel like I’m still hitting that proverbial nail here. I’ve got covers and blurbs so yes, as a reader, I’d try my books—or at least, I’d open to the first page and see if it grabs me by the throat and carries me forward.

If it did, I’ll be sunk and reading until I’m up all night wanting, needing, begging for all the secrets to be revealed and the happily ever after to arrive.

So with my latest release, Surrender, book 2 in the Mimics of Rune series, I think I’ll go re-read it now.

About the Author:

Aimee is a romantic at heart and a southern transplant with a bit of the accent (but not a whole bunch). She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and with him, she’s produced three native North Carolinians, two of whom share the same DNA.

With an MBA and a degree in Applied Mathematics, there’s absolutely no reason she should be writing romance novels. Then again, she shouldn’t need a calculator to add two numbers, either … but she does.

www.AimeeLaine.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/surrender-aimee-laine/1111559422?ean=9781937744106

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13247721-surrender

Face the past or look to the future? Both will hurt. One could kill her.

All her life, Lily Crane has suppressed her childhood memories, masking the signs of abuse with a variety of looks. From brunette to blonde, tall to short — as a Mimic, changing shape is her gift. Her right. Her achilles heel.

It’s Lily’s latest likeness, chosen simply by accident, which threatens to repeat a history she’s desperate to forget. Worse, she must do so without the one man who takes all her pain away: Cael Aldridge.

Cael has no intention of leaving Lily on her own. He never has. Now, with the woman he loves in the hands of a predator who wants Lily for her genetics, Cael will do everything he can to bring her home.

Alive.

He can only pray he isn’t too late.

GUEST BLOG: AMBER ROSE THOMPSON

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Why I started writing erotic romance books
A bit over a year ago, I found myself recovering from major surgery. Normally I’m an active person who loves to take walks, but now I found myself bedridden. No ropes tied me in place though psychologically there felt like heavy vines knotted around me in a cocoon of warmth–the warmth, of course, being covers I tossed off then pulled back on me every ten minutes.

At first I tried reading. As a kid reading romances served as my favorite pastime. I could read an entire Sweet Valley High book in one sitting and then want another. I hadn’t read romances for awhile, but now I craved anything that would transport me away from pain. I asked my wife to bring me books, but each one I opened bored me. Those romances severed all the sweat, pain, ecstasy, fear, and excitement I felt from falling in love and still being in love. The characters all seemed like Barbie Dolls sanitized to the point of being a Disney princess. I wanted more, craved for more. Of course, the library limited what my wife could bring home to me, yet I yearned for an adult romance with fully functioning genitalia.

Gently tossing the books aside, I asked next for my laptop. I couldn’t lift or move much; however, with pillows propping me up, I could rest the computer on my stomach and type. The two weeks of doctor imposed relaxation flew by, and the next thing I knew I had the start of a steamy romance that no library would allow on their shelves. The passion for writing had merged with a love of reading, and I liked the chemical reaction forming on my computer screen. Once chiseled down through editing to the sweet salty goodness of living, breathing passionate creatures, the book ended, and I called it Tied To Passion.

Before I had even finished the first book, an idea for a second and third started to percolate up from my unconscious and snare me with new character and plot potentials. Needless to say, I have not been able to stop writing since. I guess, as addictions go, writing is fairly harmless like my relish for coffee. Sometimes I mix the two and write at two in the morning which the cats are very fond of.

About the Author:

I write under the pen name Amber Rose Thompson. Why don’t I use my legal name? Well, I don’t want to be fired from my day job, now do I? By day, I am a public librarian working in the metropolis of New York City. I write the kinds of books that will never be offered at my library or even considered. And that is why I use a fictitious name. It is a bit sad to promote reading by day and hide my own writing while doing so. Before work, on lunch, break, and after work I write hot, erotic tales that I hope will make readers squirm and fan themselves. My one major hurdle in writing is my kitten who believes laps are for sleeping, not laptops. With this hindrance, I often write one-handed, and not for the reason your dirty mind is thinking. I hold the laptop with one hand and type with the other so my little bundle of fur can purr in her sleep. My muse for writing is my lovely and amazing partner who I’ve been married to for sixteen wonderful years. We all must get our inspiration from somewhere after all. My marriage is an interesting one; while we have been married for a while, we actually have two marriage certificates. You see part way through our marriage we both transitioned to the opposite gender. I told you my marriage was different. I am a trans man writing under a female name; talk about gender bending and mental games.

Find Amber Rose online at

Twitter- BDSMErotica
Facebook- AmberRoseThompsonPowerBroker
Blog- Amber Rose Thompson

GUEST BLOG: ALISON STUART

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I’ve always had a fascination with ghost stories which I suspect began with my mother’s tale of a ghostly encounter in a Youth Hostel in Wales when she woke during the night to the sensation of a woman’s fingers brushing her cheek. She could clearly see a woman bending over her and as she watched the figure dissolved into the wall.

My own paranormal experiences have been far less impressive and really take the form of an emotional response to a place rather than ghostly figures. The dungeons at Warwick Castle overwhelmed with such a sensation of misery I have never been able to set foot in them again. Strange objects appeared in photographs at the Roman fort of Housesteads on Hadrians Wall.

I have, to the best of my knowledge, worked in two haunted buildings and while I have plenty of evidence of the buildings’ ghostly residents they decided to leave me alone. Both buildings were owned by the Defence Department at the time and the witnesses to the paranormal were not the sort of person given to flights of fancy. Soldiers are not known for their overactive imaginations. I have posted blogs about “Albert” and “Esmerelda” and you are welcome to visit my blog and read their stories.

Over the years, wherever an opportunity has presented, I have gone on ghost tours – some hokey and some downright spooky. You will have found me trailing lantern bearing guides all over the world from York in England to New Orleans, Edinburgh to Port Arthur in Tasmania (now there is a spooky place!) to name a few. Books about ghosts and haunted places abound on my bookshelves because behind every good ghost there is a potential fodder for a writer and in my September release…GATHER THE BONES, I pulled together a few of these stories and created my own ghostly characters.

About the Author:

Award winning Australian author Alison Stuart always wanted to be a writer. As a teenager she scribbled turgid historical novels in shorthand notebooks, some of which are still in existence. Only when she dislocated a shoulder in a skiing accident, which left her stranded in a snow bound chalet in the Australian Alps with nothing for company but a notebook computer, did she dare to write the story that had been tugging at her sleeve for so long.

Her family moved from Kenya, where she had been born, to Australia in the late 1960s. Alison had imagined Australia as a place where kangaroos roamed the streets (just as, no doubt, children in Australia imagined Africa as a place where lions roamed the streets), but the inner suburbs of Perth seemed short of roving marsupials.

She studied Law and Arts at university and has worked all her life as a lawyer, both in private practice and in a range of different organizations including the military and the emergency services and a fatal attraction for men in uniform (including her husband) may explain her leaning towards soldier heroes!

Alison has been a finalist in competitions, including the shortlist of the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. In 2007 her first two novels BY THE SWORD and THE KING’S MAN were published. BY THE SWORD won the 2008 Eppie Award for Best Historical Romance.

These days Alison is writing full time and is officially an empty nester, with a wonderfully supportive husband (and resident military expert) and two needy cats to keep her company.

Find Alison on her website www.AlisonStuart.com

War leaves no one untouched

The horrors of the Great War are not the only ghosts that haunt Helen Morrow and her late husband’s somewhat reclusive cousin, Paul. Unquiet spirits from another time and another conflict touch them.

A coded diary gives them clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul’s great-grandmother in 1812, and the desperate voice of a young woman reaches out to them from the pages. Together Helen and Paul must search for answers, not only for the old mystery, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in 1917.

As the mysteries entwine, their relationship is bound by the search for truth, in the present and the past.

INTERVIEW: MARIE SEXTON

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Marie Sexton, whose latest book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , is part of the Clandestine Classics collection from Total-E-Bound. She will give away a download of it to one random commenter on today’s interview.

Marie told me that she believes that Jules Verne had it in his head all along that Pierre was in love with Ned in the original Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, so it was set up perfectly for this new series.

“If you read the original, you’ll see what I mean. Pierre gushes about Ned all the time – how he’s so strong and rugged, with his mighty harpoon and his piercing gaze,” she said. “All I did was open the bedroom door.”

Marie started writing in the summer of 2009 and had her first book published in January 2010. She’s since written about thirteen books; her favorites among them tend to change.

“I love the A to Z series because Angelo is so much a part of my heart. I love Between Sinners and Saints for very personal reasons. I also love the Oestend series, because I think it’s unique. That series is by far my most ambitious work,” she explained.

She has also just stared a story called Release that she is very excited about.

“It’s a cyberpunk about a whore and a slave. It’s very dark. Very kinky. Almost disturbing,” she told me. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written.”

“What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?” I wondered.

“Oh, this is such a hard question, but so fun!” she exclaimed. “First (going way back), John D. Fitzgerald. I think his Great Brain books are what taught me to love a quirky, sometimes unreliable, first person narrator.

“Alan Dean Foster. I can’t pinpoint exactly how, but I can say that I spent my early teen years reading everything by him I could get my hands on.

“JK Rowling, who reinforced for me the idea that a huge, sweeping tale can be told from a single point of view. (She strays a tiny bit, but not very damn much!)

“And Sarah Monette, because every single thing I do, I hold up next to Melusine and The Virtu (and I always come up short).”

Marie was born in Evanston, Wyoming, and spent the first eleven years of her life there.

“There’s a line in one of my favorite movies that goes something like this: ‘Every writer has a conflicted relationship with the town he grew up in.’ That’s definitely true for me,” she said. “It’s sort of a gross little truck stop town, lots of drug traffic (I think?) and more adult arcades per capita than anyplace else I’ve ever seen, but it somehow still represents innocence to me. It’s a strange juxtaposition.”

In high school, Marie told me she mostly hung out with the burnouts and the rejects.

“I was in the advanced classes in most subjects, so I had a lot of friends who were brainy, but I wouldn’t classify them as nerds. We were the drifters, I think. We were the folks who weren’t cool enough to fit in with the preps, who didn’t go to any graduation parties because we had jobs, and who ditched the school pep rallies to smoke in the parking lot.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked.

“The moment I realized I’d have to reveal to my Mormon family that I was writing gay romance. Actually, they took it very well. All except for my mother, that is. She burst into tears.”

I asked Marie about the best fan letter she’d ever received.

“I had one amazing letter from a young man who had just read Promises and was trying to decide if he could come out to his mother or not. I’ve also received some truly touching letters about Between Sinners and Saints. Many of them are from Mormons or people who were raised Mormon, and a decent number were from Christians of other denominations, but all of them have thanked me for being fair to the religious side of the story and for not taking the easy way out and making religion = bad. There are plenty of books in my genre that turn religion into the antagonist, but that wasn’t where I wanted to go. Levi’s family are wonderful people. They’re real, compassionate people who love each other very much. They just happen to have this point of contention over Levi’s sexual orientation.”

“Could you ever co-author a book with someone?” I wondered. “If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?”

“Funny you should ask!” She laughed. “Actually, I have two books coming out soon that were co-written with my good friend Heidi Cullinan. They’re both contemporaries. First, there’s Second Hand, which I started and she finished. This is part of the Tucker Springs series, which also includes LA Witt. We also have a book called Family Man, which we started a year and a half ago and finally finished. We don’t know yet who will publish it, but with any luck, it will be available in early 2013. Also, my good friend Ethan Stone has been trying to talk me into writing a book with him. Right now, we both have other projects going, but it’s something we’re both keeping in mind.”

“When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?” I asked.

“I save puppies and feed the homeless.” She paused for a long second. “Okay. Not really. Mostly, I chase my 8-year old and sit on my ass.”

Finally, I asked her, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Writing is like parenting – read every single book you can find on the subject, and then throw them all away. Take what works and forget the rest. There are a lot of people out there who claim to know The Way, but the only real right way is the way that ends in a finished book.”

About the Author:

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

You can get all of her announcements and updates on your phone with her free app for iPhone or Android.

Professor Pierre Aronnax, world-renowned Naturalist, is part of an elite team of men commissioned to investigate a series of attacks on international shipping. Are the attacks the work of some ancient sea monster, or is this “monster” actually a manmade vessel? No one is certain, but either way, Pierre’s assignment is the same: find it and destroy it.

The hunt soon becomes tedious, and Pierre is distracted by Ned Land, a sexy and temperamental harpooner who has his sites set on the Professor. The two begin a passionate affair, but an encounter with the creature they seek changes everything.

Professor Aronnax, Ned Land, and their friend Conseil find themselves held hostage aboard The Nautilus, a secret submarine helmed by the mysterious Captain Nemo. For Pierre, life on The Nautilus is ideal. He spends his days studying the sea’s wonders, and his nights with Ned, discovering a passion he’s never known. But how long can it last? Captain Nemo is reckless, and Ned is determined to escape. Caught between two charismatic men and the opportunity of a lifetime, Pierre will have to choose: leave The Nautilus, or lose the man he loves forever?

Anniversary Blog Fest: Angela Britnell

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ANYONE FOR A BANANA BOAT RIDE?
Some families have wonderful vacation memories of watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon or the time they saw the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace but my family’s most lasting vacation memory revolves around humor. It only takes three words to make us fall around laughing all over again — Banana Boat Ride.

For the uninitiated a banana boat is a large inflatable boat, shaped like a banana and colored bright yellow. It’s big enough to seat half a dozen people and is towed behind a motor boat to give people a fun ride on the sea, close to the shore. That’s the theory. In practice it can become an instrument of terror.

On holiday in Cornwall the resort where I stayed with my husband and three young sons was right on the beach. Of course someone spotted the banana boat rides being given around the bay and thought it would be a fun family thing to do together. I was talked into it — you need to know I’m not a physically brave person at all — and will admit it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. The problem came the next day. Once wasn’t enough so the boys pleaded to do it again. I gave in, hoisted myself back onto the giant rubber object, held onto the handle in front of me and prepared for another ride.

Something was different that day and it didn’t take long for fear to strike. The boat began to bounce like crazy and with my first scream came my laughing husband’s observation that the waves were much rougher today. No kidding! I clung on until I lost all feeling in my hands — convinced my life would end here in Pentewan Bay. I’d be flung off and they’d never find me — all this raced through my head as I continued to scream. Of course my boys loved every minute, purposely bouncing to make it go higher and laughing fit to burst. Eventually we slowed down and the torture ended — I thought.

It proved to be only the beginning of my agony. When I woke the next morning my thighs were in excruciating pain because I’d clamped them so hard against the boat in a desperate effort to stay on. I could barely walk and the sight of me limping along made my four heartless men crack up. They laughed on and off all day and fifteen years later it still only takes hearing those three dreaded words to set them off again.

So you can keep your more conventional vacation memories and I’ll keep mine. My boys are all grown up now but those three magic words take me back to a special time – even if it is at my expense!

About the Author:

Angela grew up in England and joined the Royal Navy in order to meet her own tall, dark, handsome stranger, a US Naval Officer called Richard, while serving in Denmark. After multiple moves and having three sons she settled in Tennessee and has been trying to get used to the hot, humid summers ever since. A lifelong reader she did a creative class for fun and discovered a passion for writing. Her first novel Truth and Consequence was published in 2006 and she’s also had short stories published in international magazines. She’s had two contemporary romances published this year OPPOSITES ATTRACT and IT’S COMPLICATED and another due to be released in January 2013.

Find Angela online at

email – author@angelabritnellromance.com
website – www.angelabritnellromance.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/angelabritnell

Twitter – www.twitter.com/angelabritnell

Anniversary Blog Fest: Annette Snyder

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Our Family Vacations
by
Annette Snyder

I am of the good fortune that my employer gives paid vacation every year. I have fifteen days to use as I please. During the year, I squeeze in a day off here and there for the dentist, grocery shopping or to catch up on laundry. Occasionally, I make assurances for the luxury of a family trip.

We afforded our first vacation when the kids were little and we were, just as many families with small kids, broke. A friend said we should take a short trip just to get away. Her exact advice was, “Take a hundred dollars and rent a hotel room for a couple of days.” We followed her suggestion, grabbed a little cash, drove two hours from home and rented a room at the Holiday Inn. Kids ate free at the hotel subtracting from the food portion of our weekend budget. We left on a Friday night, visited the museum, browsed the mall, swam at the hotel pool and came home on Sunday. I think we had twenty dollars remaining when we disembarked.

One year, we went camping in western Nebraska stopping on the way home at a water park and hotel. A real bed and shower was a welcome change after days of stinky-feet-tent-smell.

Another time, we trekked to Minnesota shopping at the big mall and saw a unique bridge by Lake Superior. By chance, we discovered an amazing restaurant built in an old warehouse on our visit to Duluth.

Once, we flew to Las Vegas, saw the lights, lost some money, toured Hoover Dam, lost some money, ate good food and lost some money. Our hotel had the most amazing swimming pool.

One year, we opted out of the family vacation and replaced the basement of our home. We attempted to convince our kids that painting, spackling, moving furniture and hanging drywall was what kids vacationing at Disneyland actually did. Mere propaganda cover-up distributed by Disney was that kids, playing in amusement parks, actually did home repair work except they had to wear those sweaty Mickey Mouse hats. Any picture of other amusement park behavior was photo-chopped and we were exempt of headwear only because of location. The children didn’t believe us.

Beginning that holiday, we did laundry. On Monday, we patched cracks in the living room wall. On Tuesday, we framed a cement slab and patched more cracks. Moreover, the neighbor needed a sidewalk fixed so we dug up a heavy concrete slab, axed out the offensive tree root underneath and put up framework. Word in a small town travels fast and only minutes passed before another neighbor discovered a cement delivery was going to occur. We agreed to repair a crack in his sidewalk as well. On Wednesday, we put up new gutters. On Thursday morning, the cement truck arrived. That afternoon, we drove twenty miles for our youngest daughter to finish her driver’s exam, returned home and did the dishes. Friday, we painted the living room. Saturday we did laundry, again, and Sunday we took down cement forms.

After the week, the family was tired of our makeshift Disneyland vacation and ready to go back to real jobs. The kids were tired of hearing, “Move that there. Make more spackling. Put this away. Pick up that tool.” The most work they ever had to do on previous vacations was to pick up dirty socks, keep wet swimsuits in the plastic bag and dust potato chip crumbles off the back seat. The plus was, not once did I hear, “Who’s feet smell? Stop looking at me. He’s poking me!”

We are planning an eventful family vacation away from home in the future. We’d like to tour the Grand Canyon or visit to the real Disneyland, not the one where they spackle and paint. Usually, no matter our touring choice, by the time our break is over, everyone is ready to take a vacation from vacation. It takes longer to unpack then it does to pack and the laundry pile is bigger upon our return. Truth of the matter is that when we stay home for remodeling, by the time we pay for all the carryout, because we can’t reach the kitchen sink, the sodas, because we’re dehydrated from working up a sweat and the sunscreen, because we spent the hottest day of the year laying cement, its much cheaper to leave town.

About the Author:

Multi-Published Author, Annette Snyder, calls a small town in the heart of the Midwest, habitat of cornfields and combines, her home. In an old house, with her husband and dog, she sits and writes.

Four grown children visit often and the grandkids cause beautiful havoc.

All her life, she paid attention to things around her, stories from her parents, friends, grandparents and great-grandparents and one day she compiled those stories together and wrote a book. That one book that started a wave of ideas and characters just keep pestering her so she continues to write all the time, work when necessary and vacation as much as possible.

Visit Annette at her site http://annettesnyder.atspace.com, her Fifty Authors from Fifty States blog http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com where she blends her love of travel with her love of writing and pick up her work at www.whiskeycreekpress.com or many online outlets and stores across Nebraska. You can connect with Annette on Face Book searching for Annette Snyder-Novelist or add her on Google Plus.