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Monday, August 1, 2011

TK Toppin Interviewed for Master Key

Julie Eberhart Painter welcomes TK Toppin talking about her July release of The Master Key, sequel to Lancaster Rule. Today we're talking about TK's writing life.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I hope I don’t make you uncomfortable by asking, first, what does TK stand for? It took me months to figure out your were not a guy.

TK: Hahaha!!! I think some in the Champagne Books writer’s loop thought the same thing. I can think of one in particular who truly thought I was a dude. I have since corrected him on my gender. T is for my first name, Tomomi. K is my maiden name, Kaharabata. I know…NOT what you were expecting, right? My parents were Japanese.

Julie: What was the first book you ever read?

TK: I’d have to say it was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. From there, I was hooked on words.

Julie: How did your education contribute to your writing?

TK: Uhm…I’m not sure. I loathed school — still do and probably would prefer a multitude of tortures than to go back to school. I remember in English class, in creative writing — I used to enjoy that — my teacher encouraged me to keep at it. He liked the fact that I wrote contrary to what was expected. For instance, we once had to write about ‘The Bully’ and most chose schoolyard bullies to write about. I chose to write about my neighbourhood’s tomcat that terrorized my own cat to a shredded pulp. I think I got an A for that essay. The rest of my academic experience is a self-induced blur.

Julie: Sounds familiar. How long does it take you to write a completed manuscript? Do you rely on an outline?

TK: Usually I do rely on outlines. I like to keep things in chronological order, so I’ll write out a beginning overview, a middle, and an ending. Also, I’ve come to realize as I get into the writing groove, I can’t progress with a work in progress if I know another story is still unfinished. I can put aside the new WIP and go back to it, but my mind still drifts back to the unfinished one.

For the first book, The Lancaster Rule, I had a bulleted overview of what I would write. Of course, I hardly consulted it since the story itself was fully ingrained in my mind. I merely kept notes on certain things like dates, names, and places so I wouldn’t get those wrong. For that book, it took me three months to complete. The sequel, took roughly the same amount of time, but the third in the series took the longest…close to six months. And then there was the reviewing of it, filling out certain chapters, and edits that took more months.

Julie: Since you live in a warm climate, Barbados, do you write outdoors?

TK: Nope. I love my creature comforts, and not the comforts of creatures. By that I mean peaceful cool (preferably in air-conditioning) as opposed to mosquitoes, sand flies, other flying bugs, bird’s pooping, and slobbering dogs. I’m not so sure I like outside that much.

Julie: Did science fiction find you or you it?

TK: It found me and we’ve lived happily ever after.

Julie: How long have you been writing?

TK: I’ve been writing seriously for the last two and a half years. Before that, it had been half-hearted attempts, (the intent was there, as well as the ideas and plots).

Julie: Do you remember your first rejection letter and what it said? How long before you found a publisher?

TK: Yep…it’s another one of the self-induced blurs. But it was really polite and came straight out of a form rejection template. I believe it was roughly six months later that I finally found a home at Champagne Books.

Julie: What do you like best about Josie, your main character in The Master Key, your sequel to Lancaster Rule?

TK: Hmm. I like her resilience — she’s like a rubber band and snaps back into shape. But as main characters go, so much happens (mostly bad, character-building stuff that makes for good reading) that I’d quickly grow tired of her if she were for real and a friend of mine.

Julie: If you were awake in a pod, what would you take to read? Who are your favorite authors?

TK: I’d take J.D. Robb’s mystery series, I’d take Frank Herbert’s Dune series just in case the world ends up like the desert planet and I need to face some sandworms, I’d take the Harry Potter series, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, Jonathan Stroud Bartimaeus Trilogy, and a few choice Dean Koontz. I’d also take my iPad to read some new favourites, like T.M. Hunter and his Aston West series, K.M. Tolan’s Dancer series, books by SFR writers Pauline Baird Jones and Sara Creasy.

Julie: I can see your books as 3-D movies. Do you think your generation will finally get 3-D television to work as dominant style in the media?

TK: I hope so!!! And thanks for saying my book has movie potential. Some people have made mention that they’d love to see the movie. So would I. And yes, I’m sitting here patiently, waiting for the day 3-D TV goes mainstream.

Julie: Had you not become a writer what would you have been doing, not counting your current job as a graphic artist. In other words your dream job?

TK: A professional daydreamer. Hahaha! But seriously? I really don’t know. I had phases in my life where I’d wanted to be a vet and made all the academic steps to line me up in that direction. That idea fizzled the moment dissection in biology came about…and my aversion to germs. I ended up studying management studies for the hospitality industry, and actually envisioned life running a hotel or restaurant. But I hated the hours. I fell into art pretty much because I knew it and was comfortable with it. Well, to put it bluntly, I understood it without having to think about it.

Julie: Have you or would you do your own book covers?

TK: Soooo many people have asked me that. People who know me as The Artist. I had to keep reminding them that as T.K. Toppin, I am The Writer…and writers have no business designing book covers. Honestly, it’s tempting to design my covers — after all, I know the books I write intimately. Plus I know about designing and how to do it. But that doesn’t mean I’d design a cover that would sell the book. I think I made the right choice by distancing myself from the design aspect of book covers.

Julie: Do you dream of other worlds or are the scenes in your books more like your daydreams?

TK: That’s a good question. A little bit of both, I guess. I’d love to create, one day, a new world in another world or universe. As it stands, I’ve only created a world that is merely an imaginary extension of the current world we live in. My so-called vision of what the future may hold. No aliens, no monsters, no strange new languages. Basically, real as hell and totally believable. But there’s hope for me yet…

Julie: Is there anything you’d like to add, speak now…

Only that I’d like to thank you for this opportunity, and hope I haven’t bored you too much. And I understand you have an upcoming release of a murder mystery called Kill Fee (hmm, maybe I should take that into a pod as well). I wish you every success with that.


Julie: You’ve been a delight. I appreciate your coming to talk with me and sharing your stories with all of us. Leave us with your links and Web sites so that we can keep an eye on your career. If you have a Buy button, you can include it here.

Blog/Website: http://www.thelancasterrule.blogspot.com
Facebook: The Lancaster Rule or Written by T.K. Toppin
Twitter: TKToppin

Buy Link: Champagne Books – http://www.champagnebooks.com
Also available on Kindle

The Master Key buy link: Champagne Books

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Now Available in Print! Haunted by Debra Glass

Wren Darby’s hopes of having a normal life died when she did. Especially since her near death experience has left her with a disfiguring scar and psychic ability. Not exactly most‑popular material. Now Wren has moved to a quaint town in Tennessee. Known for its sprawling antebellum homes, Columbia seems like the perfect place for Wren to recover from the scars she bears both inside and out.
There’s just one problem—her house is haunted by Jeremiah Ransom, the handsome ghost of a young Civil War soldier who lived and died in her new home.
As she grapples with the terrifying new skills that come with being a psychic, Wren realizes she may not be prepared for a strangely beautiful love that just might last forever. 

Buy it in PRINT! 


Buy the DIGITAL Edition

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TATTLE AND WRYE APRIL 2011

FROM THE DESK OF
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND
ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH

Greetings,

"Are you ready?" Tattle inquires as she enters the office, preening prettily in her Easter finery.

"For the Easter Champagne Books Hunt?" Wrye grabs his cane and top hat.

"Better than a hunt for eggs."

The dashing duo immediately dive into their Love of Literature Leap."


Immediately after arriving, Tattle fans herself with her bonnet. "Why is it so hot?"

Wrye loosens his ascot. "We're in the deep south, y'all, home to SEX, DEAD DOGS AND ME by Ed Williams.

"Oh my he is a rascal, for shure! So are his book, I laughed so hard, I looked happier than a flea square dancing on a pudgy dog." Takes Wrye's arm and does a twirl for emphasis.

"And this book is a true characterization of his younger years, in the sixties, fictionalized."

"Really?"

"Maybe...with Williams it could all be the truth so help me thirty-minute grits," Wrye says, plucking an colorful egg out of his pocket, peeling it, and then devouring.

"Ummm...what's he doing over there?"

"Checking his tires," Wrye provides and grins.

Tattle delicately pinches her nose. "It appears he had little too much chili."

Large hands fall over Tattle's eyes. "Don't look."

She peers through fingers. "Oh my! He's golfing with his barn door open."

"Yup, lost a bet and had to play a round with much exposed!"

"Oh, I need to read more."

"Try this," Wrye points out the chapter where he cheats on his girlfriend just to watch a special show on the gal's large-screened TV. "He's a trippin' down ole memory lane."

"And he is fast becoming a scholar, compares himself to Einstein." Preferring chocolate eggs, Tattle indulges before adding, "He sought the Brotherhood's guidance on whether or not he should focus on more than just sex, and brilliantly deduced, he should, to quote, 'Sin and learn.'"

"When it comes to humor, this book is all over it like flies on sh**!"

"Wrye!"

"Just sayin'!"

Disclaimer: Our southern accent is not real, but we think our drawl is finer than frog's hair. You can hear it, can't you?


The two appear next to a fence and two of the main characters from the romantic comedy Love Life And Other Disasters by Bernadine Darcy. "Oh my, see those sparks," announces Tattle, stroking a stuffed long-eared bunny, "and it's not from Shawn's hammer hitting nails as she repairs that fence."

"There is something quite alluring about a woman in tight jeans and a tool belt," declares Wrye.

Tattle moves around the characters, just a tad away from Bryan, a cool hottie that has captured the heroine's interest. "You have just paraphrased what Bryan has said about Shawn. Me thinks that he's is a bit more attracted to her than she realizes."

Wrye adjusts his yellow rose boutonnière and says, "Probably why he bailed her out of jail. Tsk, tsk, on our little miss getting herself arrested."

"Shawn is no little miss, my friend, she's has a don't-mess-with-me personality and she can out man any macho maniac this side of a sizzling romance. Besides, getting arrested was worth taking a baseball bat to her ex-fiancé's brand new Mustang."

"Ah, the one who left her at the altar before disappearing for two years."

"And the reason her high school sweetheart, Adam, was forced to arrest her."

"Which brings us back to Bryan...who she thinks treats her too much like a little sister, and considering she already has three assertive older brothers, she doesn't need another one."

"What she needs," holds up a hand as she rephrases. "What she wants, plain and simply is Bryan!"

"The question is will she get him, especially after he overheard her and Adam discussing their special night together?"

"Ooooh, this is certainly a must read."

"Later, m'little chickadee. We're off!" Wrye says in perfect imitation of W. C. Fields.



Can't wait to dig into next month's fabulous books, CLOSURE by Rie McGaha, CHANCE'S GAME by Eve Langlais and LISTEN TO YOUR HEART by Cindy K. Green.

Until next time, keep reading!


HAPPY EASTER!

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq.
and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by
Angelica Hart and Zi

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS ~ SNAKE DANCE ~ CHASING YESTERDAY
www.champagnebooks.com

STEEL EMBRACE by Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
August 2011 http://www.carnalpassions.com/






5 Star Review for Haunted by Debra Glass

"You feel as if you are the person involved in the story and it really makes you empathize with Wren’s problems and her unlikely romance." ~ 5 Books ~ Long and Short Reviews

Haunted

My hopes of having a normal life died when I did. Especially since my near death experience turned me into a clairvoyant with a disfiguring scar. Not exactly most-popular material.
Now, because of me, my whole family has been forced to move to some small town in Tennessee. My parents think a quiet new school and a new set of friends will heal me of the scars I carry both inside and out.
There’s just one problem. I’m being haunted by Jeremiah Ransom, the charming ghost of a Civil War soldier who lived and died in my house. His presence makes me feel perfect. As if there’d never been a wound in the first place.
But I’m afraid that loving him will result in my death all over again.
Buy it now!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TOP OF THE MORNIN'

Z: (Mouth drops open when Angelica arrives in the office dressed in green with a sparkling green hat and a green face. But that isn't what promotes his drool, it's the box of Irish Potatoes.) YUM!
A: This isn't for you, it's for the doggies.
Z: (Disappointment mars his complexion) They can't have all that sugar!
A: It only looks like Irish Potatoes, it's really doggie treats.
Z: Woof...woof...any human treats?
A: Why, of course, m'bud, I have the real ones, too! And cupcakes...and we're having Irish stew for lunch.
Z: You made it?
A: Heck no! You're taking me to the Bit of Ireland Pub for lunch.
Z: So what else is new.
A: Treats for Champagne Books readers, Irish sayings and quotes and blessings, oh my!


May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whiskey,
but be afflicted with itching without the benefit of scratching

I drink to your health when I'm with you,
I drink to your health when I'm alone,
I drink to your health so often,
I'm starting to worry about my own

May you never forget what is worth remembering,
Or remember what is best forgotten.

St. Patrick was a gentleman, who thru strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland, Here's a toasting his health
But not too many lest you lose yourself and then
You forget the good St. Patrick and see those snakes again

Here's to our wives and girlfriends:
May they never meet!

May you have no frost on your Spuds,
No worms on your cabbage.
May your goat give plenty of milk.
If you inherit a donkey, may she be in foal.
Don't walk in front of me I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me I may not lead.
Walk beside me And just be my friend.

There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head,
If a man doesn't drink when he's living,
How the hell can he drink when he's dead?

May you be in heaven 1/2 hour before the devil knows you're dead.


May you be rich in blessings, poor in misfortune,
Slow to make enemies, quick to make friends.
But rich or poor, slow or quick,
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


These were just a few of the many wonderful sayings and blessings we have found. We hoped you enjoyed them, and that on this St. Patrick's day whether you're Irish or not, may your world be an emerald isle bloosoming with your heart's desires.

***


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at angeliahartandzi@yahoo.com and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS ~ SNAKE DANCE ~ CHASING YESTERDAY
Champagne Books can be purchased at http://www.champagnebooks.com

THE FABLE OF SIN-SIN-CINDERELLA SERIES
Books can be purchased at angelicahartandzi.com




Monday, March 14, 2011

A Woeful Truth About Publishing

Let me tell you a story about one of the nasty little things in the publishing world that can threaten to put a publisher into bankruptcy rather quickly.

Once, a long, long time ago (okay more like 8 months ago), a pretty little author contacted her much wiser publisher with a request and a plan.
"Oh please, Madam Publisher, if my book could only go into print, I absolutely know I've got a large order waiting for it at Double Magic Stores, Inc. And they know me really well, so it's a guaranteed sale with no returns. Ever."

Madam Publisher, with her compassionate heart and desire to see her author succeed, worked really hard to get the requested book available to the distributors so that the Double Magic Stores, Inc. could order the precious tome. But all things didn't go as planned, because Double Magic Stores, Inc. decided they'd rather order direct from the publisher. Seems they didn't like the distributor's terms.

Madam Publisher wasn't crazy about the idea, since she wasn't fond of sending her product, unpaid for, to a foreign country (and company that she had never dealt with before). She didn't want to turn the order down, since the author had worked hard on procuring it, so in her infinite wisdom (and on the advice of her accountant), she only sent a third of the order. And waited for payment on that third. And waited. And waited.

And waited some more.

I wish I could say that Double Magic Stores, Inc. paid the bill and everyone lived happily ever after, but that isn't the case. As many independent publishers have discovered over the years, there is something seriously flawed in the way that booksellers do business. Seriously, how many of us can order a product, and then pay whenever we damn well feel like it? Returns started in the depression, to help keep bookstores in business as they wouldn't have to worry about paying out all the money and being stuck with a lot of stock that wouldn't sell. They could simply return what didn't sell and request new books to line their shelves. The depression ended, but this practice never did, but in fact, only got worse.

As of this writing, after a demand for payment letter was sent threatening collection action, we have received half of our monies owed. The remainder was held 'for anticipated returns'. No notification of when the final payment will be made.

Needless to say, this kind of behaviour has made this company think long and hard about its print program. We have no desire to go the way of the dinosaur, slinking away into bankruptcy because of companies such as the one described above, therefore, we have had to abandon the program, still in its infancy stage. Oh sure, we'll continue to offer printed books to our readers, but they'll be available on our website only, and any company wanting larger orders are going to have to pay in advance.

A tough lesson learned, but one in which we will gracefully concede. Leave the print publishing for those with pockets deep enough to withstand numerous unpaid accounts. Instead, I raise a glass to Champagne Books, as we continue onward, pursuing excellence in fiction in an electronic medium.

And then they lived happily ever after.

Friday, March 11, 2011

TATTLE AND WRYE MARCH 2011

FROM THE DESK OF
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND
ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH

Greetings,

Dressed in ballroom regalia, already preparing for the awards event, Tattle announces, “We’re in for a treat. Our Love of Literature Leap is taking us into the books of three of the nominees for Champagne Books Author of the Year.”

Wearing his shamrock green suit and munching on Irish potatoes, Wrye grins, “Sounds tasty. Ready, m'Leprechaun-bud."

And they are off.


“We’re not in Kansas anymore,” quotes Tattle.

“Ummm, we never were in Kansas, and neither is Jared Bruin, the hero of the fantasy SHADOW FOX by Ashley Barnard. Although he was abandoned in St. Louis the story transcends from this world to another. Oh yeah, I’m likin’ it!” Wrye does a jig, in harmony to an Irish tune.

Tattle plucks cloverleaf, adding, “One can’t help but like Jared, despite that he’s a tortured soul, flawed, and an addict. There is simply something noble about him. He is lost in a world he doesn’t understand, unable to remember his early childhood, and driven to learn swordplay and old world combat skills.” Pretends the clover is a sword and attacks air.

Wrye jumps through chapters, urging Tattle along with him. “Then there is the lovely and mysterious Tarika.”

Tattle notices Wrye’s smitten look. “You’re starrrring.”

“Am not…well maybe…but look at her,” Wrye says, indicating the gorgeous woman. “However, she does have her secrets, many, mannnnny secrets, which in a strange way makes her perfect for Jared. They are kindred souls.”

“She also provides a link to Jared’s past. Maybe that is why his mentor told Jared about the opportunity to be her Master Swordman, well that and to put distance between Jared and his drug supplier.”

“Ah, see this lost journal,” Wrye points with a twisted cane, “it supplies many answers to Jared's past. He is from a different world, one that needs him to rise up and be a hero, but it is also a world that could destroy him.”

“Will he go to that world? Will Tarika follow him? And just what does she have to do with past? Is Tarika all she appears to be?”

That is what the reader will need to find out.



“I like the rain,” Tattle says, and swipes the wetness from her eyes much like Megan, a character who appears in the contemporary novel SHADOW OF GUILT by Michael Davis.

“I like umbrellas,” returns Wrye and opens a striped green and white golf umbrella to cover them both. “I also like weaving our way through Davis’ story. There’s Sean Paterson,” Wyre points out the hero as the duo suddenly find themselves in a café, “a man harboring hate, a need for vengeance, and across from him is Detective Christine Sheppy who’s coping with guilt, a guilt born from the simple need to survive.”

Tattle seeps further into the story. “Their lonely conscious ridden lives become entwined as they try to help an estranged teen and her child, who are lost and targeted.”

Wrye becomes lost in prose, his green carnation wilts as if agreeing with the sadness in Wrye’s tone. “The ache for something strong and loving between them becomes fragile and strained as the haunts of their past refuse to let go. Christine trusted with her heart once and ended up hurt. Dare she trust again? He believed in the magic of forever. Will he find his way back to that belief again?”

Sorrow furrows Tattle’s brow. “Sean knows he wants that sweetness of being with someone for a lifetime, but his hate, his need for vengeance and past shadows make him rash, ready to destroy possibilities.”

“Can either of them escape the endless grief? Can they win out over the depraved acts of malevolent men who prey on the helpless? Will their emerging love be enough to conquer all?”

“Read and find out!”


“Ah, you are in your element, Tattle, m’gal.” With a hand flourish, Wrye indicates the Castle Hamingur, the backdrop for Ciara Gold’s paranormal fantasy THE KEEPER OF MOON HAVEN.

“Oh yes, there is just something so appealing and romantic about castles, especially mysterious abandoned ones that could be haunted.”

“We’re not talking ghosts here,” Wrye says, “but fairies. Noreen Willshire, an impoverished daughter of an Earl refuses to marry for anything less than love and thereby is forced to be a governess. In this position she soon discovers a diary, an ancient book of fairytales that bridges her world to the world of fairies when she reads from the book to her charges.” Rubs his hands together, “This is getting interesting.”

“Especially so, when Villemore “Vil” a cynical wizard appears before her in his natural and quite hunky form.” Tattle fans herself.

“Tsk, tsk, m’voyeur lass.” Wrye covers her eyes. “Noreen decides it would be best if Vil takes the book back with him to the fairy world. But this can only be accomplished during the Hunter’s Blue Moon. In the meantime, Vil realizes that his world needs Noreen’s light, and that he just might need it, or more aptly expressed, her as well.”

“And she realizes that Vil is seeping into her heart. Yet danger haunts their paths, and barriers arise to keep the destined lovers apart.”

“Her promise to return the diary is soon at hand. She must decide on seeking a new life far from the fairy realm and Vil or to bridge the gap between Vil’s world and her own.”

“What will she do…what will she do…?”


Hope you enjoyed this month’s offerings! Next month, we'll journey to the land of romantic humor. MY LOVE LIFE AND OTHER DISASTERS by Bernadine Darcy and SEX, DEAD DOGS, AND ME by Ed Williams.

Top of the morning to you all!

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq.
and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at angeliahartandzi@yahoo.com and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS ~ SNAKE DANCE ~ CHASING YESTERDAY
Champagne Books can be purchased at http://www.champagnebooks.com

THE FABLE OF SIN-SIN-CINDERELLA SERIES
Books can be purchased at angelicahartandzi.com






Thursday, March 10, 2011

HEARTS AND FLOWERS WINNERS

Congratulations to the winners from our HEARTS AND FLOWERS celebrations
during the month of February.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER:

MARIA

BOOK WINNERS:

Kylie
Stephanie
Rosemary
Tami
She
Maria

If you haven't received your winning book, please contact us at angelicahartandzi@yahoo.com

Thank you so much for being so supportive and for your participation.



Angelica Hart and Zi (Hosts)
KILLER DOLLS ~ SNAKE DANCE ~ CHASING YESTERDAY
Champagne Books can be purchased at http://www.champagnebooks.com

THE FABLE OF SIN-SIN-CINDERELLA SERIES
Books can be purchased at angelicahartandzi.com





Monday, February 28, 2011

AN EXCITING EXCERPT FROM ~~~ LAUREN GALLAHER'S LIGHT SWITCH See you next month!


Dear Party Goers,

This might be the end of February's Heart and Flowers party, but not the end of fun. Keep coming back to Champagne Books Blog and enjoy our authors and their offerings of excerpts, book trailers, gifts and more.


JOIN CHAMPAGNE'S BOOK BLOG TODAY AND BE ENTERED INTO A DRAWING FOR 2 PRINT BOOKS, 2 E-BOOKS AND A SURPRISE GIFT!



Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS
SNAKE DANCE
CHASING YESTERDAY
angelicahartandzi@yahoo.com
angelicahartandzi.com

And, now, back to our scheduled author!

Title: Light Switch
Author: Lauren Gallagher

Website: http://www.loriawitt.com
Contact: thethinker42@gmail.com
GIVING AWAY 1 ELECTRONIC COPY IN YOUR CHOICE OF FORMATS. JUST LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED INTO TODAY'S DRAWING.

EXCERPT:

I knew my relationship was over when I wore the lacy purple lingerie for my neighbor, not my boyfriend.

Pulling a pair of jeans and a plain sweatshirt over the garter, panties, and bra, I knew. Truth and guilt sank deeper into the pit of my stomach with every passing minute. Tonight was the night.

I went into the bathroom to fix my hair and put on a little makeup. Why I bothered, God only knew, but at least it was a way to pass the time before my boyfriend arrived. The antiquated clock radio on the bathroom counter said it was nearly seven thirty. Alec would be here any minute. With any luck and a little courage on my part, he’d finally be gone not long after that.

He’d be gone, leaving me with Matt.

Not that I had any intention of touching Matt. I’d entertained a few fantasies of taking him to bed, but I’d been with Alec since before Matt and I met. Whatever problems we had, I wasn’t about to fool around on Alec. No, I wasn’t going to touch Matt tonight. We wouldn’t even be in the same room.

In the two years that we’d been neighbors, Matt and I had never touched beyond the occasional handshake or hug. We’d become fast friends, but everything about our close friendship was strictly platonic.

When light and time cooperated, however, he watched me from his bedroom window, which was across the narrow alley from my own.

He looked at me. Alec didn’t bother anymore.

It had started innocently enough. A window shade carelessly left open. A change of clothes. A well-timed glance.

Eye contact and startled gasps from both sides of the alley had ended the moment as quickly as it had begun. For days, we were shy and coy, passing on the sidewalk without looking at each other, the accidental voyeur and unintended exhibitionist who’d been caught in the act.

Beneath the embarrassment, though, there lurked a part of me that found a delicious thrill in that momentary exposure. Perhaps I’d imagined the look on his face in that fleeting second before we’d both turned away in a panic, but I was sure his eyes had widened and his lips had parted with more than just the startle of seeing a random topless woman. Wishful thinking or not, I let myself believe he’d looked because he liked seeing me like that. It had been too long since someone had done so, and right or wrong, I liked it.

Had he been some stranger, I’d have been creeped out and probably invested in blackout curtains.

He wasn’t a stranger, though. He was Matt, and after a few days, I left the shade open again. It took almost a week for him to take me up on my unspoken invitation. One night, while I got ready for bed, surreptitious glances in the mirror revealed the ghost of a silhouette in his window, a dark profile against a darker background, and I knew he was there. He was there, and I wanted him to be. I wanted him to see.

I didn’t look. I didn’t even acknowledge him. But that night, and a handful of nights afterward, he was there.

Tonight, standing in my bathroom as I got ready to drop a long overdue bomb on Alec, I sighed. My shoulders fell, and when they did, the dark purple strap peeked out from beneath my reflection’s shirt. I tucked it away, meeting my own eyes and averting them when my cheeks turned pink.

If Alec noticed what I’d worn beneath my casual clothes, he’d turn up his nose and call it trashy. He wouldn’t see it, though. Even if I lost my nerve and let him stay like I had so many times in the last year, tonight would be like any other. In the best case scenario, we’d wordlessly undress ourselves in the dark so we could have silent, passionless sex before going to sleep a thousand miles apart.

At least, if that happened, there would be just enough light spilling in from outside for Matt to see.

I sighed and looked myself in the eye again. This had to stop. Though Matt and I never touched, nor did we ever speak about this in our friendly, unassuming conversations, the guilt was getting to me. This window-to-window affair of glances wasn’t right.

Holding my own gaze, I took and released a deep breath. Yes, I was going to do this. Tonight. Swallowing hard, I touched up a phantom smudge in my smoky eye shadow and fixed a strand of hair that was perfectly in place.

From down the hall, the crunch of a key and click of a deadbolt broke the silence. The front door opened.

I took another breath, shut off the bathroom light, and went out to meet Alec.

He was just shrugging his jacket off when I rounded the corner. With a quick, expressionless glance, he acknowledged my presence, then hung his jacket in the hall closet. “Sorry I’m late. Got held up at the office.”

“Don’t worry about it. Just gave me a little more time to get ready.”

The next look he shot me was a quick down-up sweep with his eyes, followed by a lifted eyebrow that said nothing if not “that is what you call ‘ready?’”

I shifted my weight, gritting my teeth. Keep it up, sweetheart. You’re making this easy for me.

He put his hand on my waist and kissed me lightly. “So, what’s the plan for tonight?” Another down-up glance scrutinized my appearance before he added, “I assume you want to stay in?”

I pursed my lips, resisting the urge to fold my arms across my chest. “Yes, actually.”

“Sounds good.” He smiled. “I think we still have a few DVDs to watch, don’t we?”

“We do.” I hesitated. “But first, I’d like to… talk.”

His eyebrows jumped. “About?”

“Us.”

“Us?” He shrugged with one shoulder. “Well, okay. Let’s talk, then.” He didn’t sound alarmed.

“How about in the living room?” I gestured down the hall and started in that direction without giving him a chance to object. “Do you want something to drink?”

“I think I’m okay, thanks.” He took a seat on the couch with his arm across the back of it, his usual invitation for me to sit beside him. The thought of that arm curling around my shoulders made my skin crawl.

Instead, I sat toward the middle, creating just enough distance to keep him from wrapping his arm around me. Turning to him, I pulled my knee up onto the cushion between us. His eyes darted to my knee, then met mine.

He cleared his throat. “So, um, what’s going on?”

Wringing my hands, I avoided his eyes. “Just, I…” Come on, Kristen, come on. You can do this.

He put his hand on my thigh, dangerously close to the telltale edge of the hidden garter. “Is this about moving in together?”

“Well, no. I mean, not exactly. It’s…” I wanted to scream with frustration. This wasn’t the first time I’d tried to have this conversation with him, and it wasn’t the first time I’d gotten tongue-tied.

Squeezing my leg gently, he said, “Look, if it's too much for you, it’s okay. We don’t have to do it right now.” His tone teetered between empathizing and patronizing, and I couldn’t tell which way it was intended.

Instead of looking at him, I stared at the subtle ridge my garter made beneath my jeans. “Listen, I don’t think we should move in together. At all.”

“You don’t?” At last, a hint of alarm crept into his voice. “But, why not? I mean, after all this time, wouldn’t it make sense?”

“It would, yes.” I swallowed hard and forced myself to meet his eyes. “If we were planning to get married, or—”

He laughed. “Is that what this is about? Well, if you want to start thinking about getting married instead—”

“No, no, it’s not that.”

He cocked his head. “Then, what?”

Wetting my lips, I whispered, “I don’t think we should move in together because I—” Come on, come on, just do it. Get it out there. “I don’t think we should stay together.” Before he even had a chance to react, the weight of the world slipped off my secretly lace-covered shoulders. Finally.

Alec blinked. “You, what?”

“I don’t think this is working.”

“You,” he paused. “You want to end this?” He gestured at me, then at himself.
“Yes,” I whispered.

“Well, I guess I can see now why you never wanted to move in together.”

I couldn’t blame him for the bitterness in his tone. We’d been discussing it for over a year, and I’d been sidestepping the issue because I’d been trying to work up the courage to tell him I wanted out. Without meeting his eyes, I nodded.

Alec abruptly stood. While I was relieved to have some breathing room, I was afraid he was going to storm out. As much as I wanted him to be gone, we needed to settle this here and now, not set ourselves up for a period of cooling down, followed by another conversation.
He didn’t leave, though. Instead, he paced between the coffee table and the television, running his fingertips back and forth across his stubbled jaw. “I don’t get it.” He shook his head. “After four years, you just want to up and quit?”

“It’s not exactly a conclusion I came to overnight.”

“Oh really? So when were you planning to enlighten me?”

I sighed. “That’s what I’m doing now. This isn’t something I went into lightly.”

“So what the hell is the problem?” he asked.

“I just don’t think we’re…” I trailed off, searching for the word. “Compatible.”

“Of course we are. We wouldn’t have lasted this long if we weren’t.”

And we shouldn’t have lasted this long. “Look, Alec, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to hurt you, but I’m not happy with things. I’m not happy—”

“With me?”

I sighed again. “Yes. I’m not happy with the way things are with us, and I’m ready to move on.”

“I don’t see how you can be unhappy.”

Of course you don’t. You would have to had to pay attention to pick up on that. “I am.” I struggled to keep my voice gentle and calm. “We want different things out of life. Half the time when we’re talking, we’re fighting.”

“We wouldn’t fight if you didn’t pick fights all the time.”

I took a deep breath. “I don’t pick fights because I enjoy it. If something’s bothering me, I tell you.”

He exhaled hard. “Yeah, and every damned thing bothers you, doesn’t it?”

“No. Not everything. But enough.” I wrung my hands. “I mean, look at our sex life.”

“What? What about it? We have sex more than most couples that have been together this long.”

“Yes, we do,” I said. “But we never try anything new. There’s no variety. It’s just the same thing, over and over and over.”

He set his jaw. “After this long, I think we’ve tried everything, don’t you?”

“No, I absolutely don’t think we have.”
“What else is there?”

“Haven’t you ever wanted to spice things up? Try something unusual? I’ve suggested a few things over the years, but you haven’t wanted to try a damned thing.”

He shrugged. “I’m perfectly happy with things the way they are.”

“To put it bluntly, I’m not.”

Alec blinked. He eyed me, shifting his weight. “So you’re bored with me, then.” It wasn’t a question.

“I’m bored with our sex life.”

“And that’s enough to make you want to call things off?”

“There’s plenty more to it than that, but that was my first clue that things weren’t going so great. I want to try new things. You don’t. So I’m bored to the point of being miserable.”

“I can’t believe you’d end a relationship like this because of sex.” Alec shook his head. “Am I supposed to be some kinky porn star to keep you entertained?”

“Not at all.” I fought to keep my temper in check. “But it would be nice if you at least looked at me once in a while in the bedroom.”

“In the dark?”

“You could turn on the light,” I snapped. “And maybe when you’re done with that, try doing the same to me.” It was only when he stopped pacing that I realized I’d said the words out loud. My heart pounded. I hadn’t intended to go there, but there was no taking it back now.

“You’re unbelievable.” He threw his hands up. “If there was something wrong with us in the bedroom, why didn’t you bring it up a long time ago?”

“I’ve tried. Time and again. And quite frankly, I’m tired of it.”

“Oh, you have?” He folded his arms and cocked his head. “When? How?”

“Maybe all the times I’ve told you I’d like to try new things? I haven’t exactly kept a list of dates and times, but I’ve brought it up more than once.” I paused. “You either don’t want to talk about it, think I’m concerned about nothing, or turn up your nose at whatever I suggest.”

“Like what?”

“Well, how about when we went to Cabo last year? I suggested fooling around on the beach, on our balcony, on—”

“I’m not going to fuck you in public.” His lips contorted with disgust. “Jesus, Kristen.”

I rolled my eyes. “And what about the handcuffs we bought two years ago, but have never used?”

“We don’t need to use handcuffs,” he said with a dismissive gesture.

“We don’t need to do a lot of things, but I think it would be fun. That’s the kind of stuff I want to try.”

“So, what? Just having sex isn’t enough for you? Now you have to try all that freaky, kinky shit?”

“Why is it freaky?” I shrugged. “Some of it could be fun.”

“No, no, absolutely not.” He glared at me. “I think you’ve been listening to too many stories from that friend of yours.”

“Who? Scott?”

“The one who’s into all that weird crap, yeah.”

I scowled. “He’s told me a few things, yes, but—”

“See? You’ve just been listening to him.” Alec inclined his head, giving me that patronizing look I’d grown to despise. “Normal people don’t do that shit, Kristen.”

Fury coiled in my gut. “Then maybe I’m not normal.”

“Or maybe you’ve just been around that freak too long. I’ve never liked you hanging around him any—”

“I beg your pardon?” I stood, mirroring his defensive stance. “Now you want to dictate who I spend my time with?”

He gave a flippant shrug. “I just don’t like you hanging around that asshole.”

“Why? Because he’s into things you’re not?”

“Or maybe I just don’t like my girlfriend discussing sex with another man.”

“Oh, I can understand that,” I said through my teeth. “She might get ‘ideas’ in her pretty little head about how to fix a lackluster sex life, and she might even try to apply those ‘ideas’ to the relationship she’s trying to save.”

“Yeah, and—”

“Or, heaven forbid, she might just suddenly realize there’s more to sex than a little quiet missionary style in the fucking dark.”

He narrowed his eyes. “I don’t think I’m the problem, then.”

“Neither is Scott. I talk to him because he listens to me. Something you stopped doing a long, long time ago.”

“Fine.” He put his hands up. “You know, between that sick fuck and that friend of yours next door, I figured it was only a matter of time anyway.”

My jaw fell open. “What?”

“You heard me.”

“Are you suggesting that—”

“Are you denying it?” he snarled.

“I have never cheated on you.” Guilt twisted in my stomach. It was true, I hadn’t touched another man, but the temptation had been there. One of the first signs this relationship was in trouble was when I caught myself fantasizing not only about the wild things Scott told me, but Scott himself. Then came the voyeuristic tryst with Matt. Though I’d never touched either of them, the guilt was killing me just the same. I’d cheated in mind, if not in body, which was why this needed to end.

“Never?” Alec broke the lengthy silence that had fallen. “Somehow I doubt that.”

My face burned, no doubt making me look even guiltier than I was. “You don’t trust me?”

“Should I?”

I clenched my jaw. His constant suspicion and distrust were among the countless nails we’d driven into this coffin. Thank God we were finally going to bury the fucking thing.

“Look, I may be frustrated,” I said. “But I do love you, Alec. I wouldn’t cheat on you.”

“But you’ll leave me?”

“Yes.” The word came so easily, so unflinchingly. “Yes. I need to.”

“You know what? Fine.” He glared at me again. “I’ll go, and you can have all the crazy, freakish sex you want. Mark my words, though. In a few months, after you’ve had a little fun and realize how sick it all is, you’ll regret this.”

“Somehow I doubt that.” Our lackluster sex life was the wedge we’d used to finally cleave our relationship apart, but if it had failed to do so, we had plenty more that would have done the job.

“We’ll see, won’t we?” He shifted his weight. “I don’t suppose you’ll let me take my stuff before you kick me out?”

I nodded down the hall. “Go right ahead.”

With a sharp huff, he stormed past me. I followed him into my bedroom.

Now that he was moving, now that he was doing something besides standing there talking to me, his fury escalated, just as it always did. He jerked open the closet door and went about ripping shirts and a coat off hangers and throwing them onto the bed he’d probably expected to share with me tonight.

“I can’t believe you, Kristen,” he said over his shoulder. “You’re really willing to let all of this go because I won’t be a freak like whatshisname.”

“No. The sex is only part of it.”

He slammed a pair of shoes down and kicked the closet door shut. “Really? So what else is there?”

“Well, this.” I gestured at him. “Every time you get mad, you start throwing shit around, slamming doors, yelling at me—”

“Oh, so now I’m not allowed to get angry?” he shouted, turning on his heel and facing me. “Am I just supposed to sit here like a good little boy and let you tell me I’ve just wasted four years of my fucking life?”

I drew back, folding my arms to keep my hands from shaking. “There’s a happy medium between that and flipping out at—”

“I’m not fucking flipping out at you, Kristen,” he snarled, closing the gap between us. “You can’t expect to say this kind of shit and—”

“And what?” I stepped toward him, and to my great satisfaction, he shrank back slightly. “Am I tied to you for the rest of my life? Am I not allowed to move on if I’m not happy anymore?”

“After all this time, the least you could do is put some effort into fixing it instead of running away.”

I flipped my hands out, palms up. “I’m not going to argue anymore, Alec. I want out, I want you out, so just get your stuff and leave.”

He said nothing, but the rage in his eyes almost made me step back myself. At the very edges of my peripheral vision, he clenched and unclenched his fists. For the first time in four years, I wondered if he might just raise a hand to me, and I could neither draw nor release a breath until he muttered a curse and turned back to gathering his belongings.

On his way out, he stopped at the hall closet to yank his jacket off the hanger and put it over his arm. Then he jerked his key off the ring and tossed it on the table by the door.

“Looks like that’s everything.” He opened the front door. “Unless you had anything else you needed to say?”

I shook my head.

He sneered at me. “Not even good-bye?”

“I think we’ve already said that, don’t you?”

Cursing under his breath, he left, slamming the door behind him. I turned the deadbolt and went back into my bedroom, dropping onto the bed and releasing a long breath. Uncomfortable though it was, that conversation had needed to happen for a long, long time. We’d both made our mistakes over the last few years. We’d both caused our fair share of problems in this relationship. At least now, it was over. Thank God, it was over.

With another long exhalation, I looked at the clock. It was barely eight o’clock. Still plenty of time to go out and grab a drink, vent to a girlfriend, do something other than stay home in this silent apartment. With my newfound freedom came the long overdue ability to go out and take care of some of this sexual frustration. Maybe with someone who knew what he was doing. A one night stand had never been so tempting. I could go out. Or I could turn off the light and go to sleep.

I didn’t go out.

I didn’t turn off the light.

I didn’t go to sleep.

I just took off my shirt and hoped Matt liked purple satin.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

LORD BYRON APPEARS IN ROSEMARY GEMMELL'S DANGEROUS DECEIT



Regency Novel, Dangerous Deceit by Romy Gemmell, is due from Champagne Books in May 2011.

Lord Byron
By Rosemary Gemmell


He was the original ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ hero, as his one-time lover, Lady Caroline Lamb, named him. And perhaps he was the model for the moody, romantic hero in famous literature. Think of the dark and brooding men from three of the classics: Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy, Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester and Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff.

Born in 1788, George Gordon, the 6th Lord Byron, went on to epitomise the romance of Regency England. His father was profligate gambler Captain John Byron, who deserted his wife and child, but his mother was Scottish heiress Catherine Gordon and Byron spent his early life with her in Aberdeen. He left Scotland when his great-uncle William died and left him the baronial title and estate at Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

Byron began his writing life, and reputation for high-spirited behaviour, at Cambridge. After travelling around Europe and Greece for two years, Byron returned, aged twenty four, and his days of fame and notoriety began. The first and second canto of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage elevated him to the ranks of literary genius. Byron himself remarked, “I awoke one morning and found myself famous.”

Byron was hugely attractive to women, which cause him a great deal of trouble. Sir Walter Scott described him as having “the remarkable contrast of very dark hair and eyebrows with light and expressive eyes.” Young, aristocratic, a romantic wanderer, and a poetic genius, Byron was in great demand.

But his scandalous love affairs, and rumours of incest, soon brought Byron down. The society who had idolised him began to snub him. With rising debts and hounded by bailiffs, Byron left England in 1816, just 28 years old and at the pinnacle of his fame. He recognised it was partly his own fault. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, ends with the words:

“I planted – they have torn me – and I bleed:
I should have known what fruit would spring from
Such a seed.”

Byron’s stature as a poet continued to grow, especially on publication of Don Juan, a commentary on the society that had rejected him. He finally went to Greece, where he formed the ‘Byron Brigade’ to give support to the Greeks’ fight for independence. They hailed him a hero. Lord Byron died at Missolonghi, aged 36.

His burial was refused in Westminster Abbey and he was buried in the family vault in the church at Huchnall Torkard, near Newstead Abbey. Byron had the last word, however, exposing the double standards, politics and social relations of Regency England in Don Juan:

“Without, or with, offence to friends or foes,I sketch your world exactly as it goes.”

*****

http://romygemmell.blogspot.com
www.rosemarygemmell.com

Saturday, February 26, 2011

JULIE EBERHART PAINTER SHARES A POETRY BLOG




Leave a comment on any of her days and be entered into a drawing to WIN
e-book MORTAL COIL












Writing a Wrong

By Julie Eberhart Painter

The writer writes and having writ moves on
to other works while those undone can ponder,
miss her touch; the tinkling keys they love so much.

What thinks that writer in the midst of musing,
that search for clever phrases not confusing?
Where will she land that sailing ship of folks and fools,
unwinding there like kittens rolling spools?

Another romance titillates the senses.
Dark tales hold readers in suspense.
A literary gaffe dislodges sleep
induces dreams the reader cannot keep?

It's all within the skills that we unfold,
awaiting choice, expunging trivial from bold.
Our job, if we accept the charge:
Perform the deed the world wants to disparage.

So woe is me, a writer with a verse,
an idea headed out to be accursed.
Exposing muse's heart and mind,
our dreams indifferent and unkind
betray our thoughts when they are left behind.

~*~

Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, in which she practices both medicine and law without licenses, and Tangled Web, a story close to her heart.

See Julie’s Web site at ~ http://www.books-jepainter.com/

Friday, February 25, 2011

STILL PARTYING!

Having a good time? We are certainly enjoying the interaction between Champagne Book authors and their readers. Although the month is nearly gone, we hope you continue to enjoy the blog. Stop by often. You never know when there will be a contest. Like today!

Tell us the name of the heroine in CHASING YESTERDAY and win an e-book download. HINT: Watch the video. Oh, put your answer in comments and don't forget to add your email addy.

Have a great day!



We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at angeliahartandzi@yahoo.com and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS
SNAKE DANCE
CHASING YESTERDAY
angelicahartandzi@yahoo.com
angelicahartandzi.com

BOOKS can be purchased at
Champagne Books
http://www.champagnebooks.com


Thursday, February 24, 2011

CIARA GOLD ~ EXCERPT ~ THE KEEPER OF MOON HAVEN



THE KEEPER OF MOON HAVEN ~ BOOK OF THE YEAR NOMINEE

Leave a comment on any of her days and be entered into a drawing to WIN
e-book THE KEEPER OF MOOM HAVEN


Excerpt:

“Just say you’ll wear the dress and join us for the evening. I know you have the courage to handle the gift in the light it was intended. I would hate to have to call you coward along with stubborn.”

“You make a strong argument.” She fingered the dress with longing. “My curious nature urges me to accept even if I do so with reservations.”

His gaze shifted to her hair. He reached out and fingered a loose curl against her cheek. “I like it much better down.

Whoever decided women should wear their hair tucked away in a crown of curls should be drawn and quartered.”

Just the mere brush of his fingers against her skin made her pulse quicken. With effort, she refrained from leaning into his hand.

“A blood thirsty wizard? What else should I know about you?”

He dropped his hand from her hair. “You need know nothing more.”

His sudden brusqueness made no sense. “No. You’re absolutely right. I think it best we remain polite strangers.” She already feared the chemistry she sensed between them. She feared learning about the man even more. A friendship had the opportunity to develop into much stronger emotions. She silently agreed with Vin. She need know nothing more.

He caught her in his strong arms, crushing the fragile lace between them. “Strangers make the best lovers. With strangers there are rarely any regrets.”

She gazed into his dark eyes and saw pain. “Who hurt you, Vin? Who made you into such a hard man?”

“Man?” He chuckled. “You forget. I’m only half a man. The other half is elf. Elfin faeries view the world from a far different perspective than humans.”

“One of cynicism.”

His hold upon her gentled. “I prefer the term practical. I don’t adhere to philosophies that support double standards. In Alfheim Haven, every Being has an equal say at the Main Court. Simply put, I don’t observe the prejudices abundant in the human realm. With Lucian, the situation would be much different there than here. The Beings would protect and nuture children no matter the circumstances surrounding their birth.”

“While I find it hard to understand Lord Haverett’s prejudice toward Lucian, I must abide by social constraints. Without them, we would all become savages.”

He stroked her forearms. “Like me? Do you find me savage?”

“I...”

He lowered his lips and swallowed her words. He kissed her with fierce intensity. The dress rustled between them, a bitter token of his regard for her. She melted into his embrace, savoring the taste of his lips, accepting for the moment his mastery over her heart and body. And while her body yearned for more, her heart cried. He would never see her as more than a conquest. And she could never set aside her morals to give into the heady feelings he evoked. For that, she did consider him savage.

She pushed against his chest. He dropped his hands, but held her prisoner with the touch of his lips. She tore her mouth from his. The dress fell to the floor, a pool of shimmering guilt.

****

Ciara Gold

www.ciaragold.com

Available at Champagne Books or All Romance E-books

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004EPZ2G4

The Keeper of Moon Haven is available at Champagne Books
http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=364

and at All Romance Ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-keeperofmoonhaven-489359-143.html

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love In A Cold Month

I've always thought it strange that Valentine's Day fell in one of our coldest months. February is by no means spring in any of the north central or eastern nothern states. And certainly not in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where the Viking and I live. My first husband tended to give me something practial for Valentine's Day, but that's not why our marriage was dissolved (in CA it's a dissolution if it isn't contested.) The truth is he thought all romances were trash and if I insisted on writing one it was either him or the writing.
My second husband (yes, I'm a an optimist, but at least this time I picked another writer), was definitely not the romantic type in person even if he did write romances, but he sometimes did remember Valentine's Day by taking me out to dinner, unless it fell on a Monday because that was his bowling night. But he died.
I've known the Viking from my past ever since I was six and he was seven and I
"skipped" from first to second grade. He has since told me that he fell in love with me then. But though we became friends, we never really dated. And after graduating in 1943, in the midst of WWII, he went into the Navy Pilot program and I went into the Cadet Nurse program. So I became a nurse and he went to college when he got out of the Navy and became a geologist. I married a doctor and he married as well. But over the years we never quite lost track of each other.
By the time we connected again, I was a widow and he'd been divorced for some time. We both were a tad wary of marriage, but we decided to become Life Partners and have been together since 1994 and will be until we die.
There's no age limit to falling in love and in the Viking, I finally found a man who really enjoys celebrating Valentine's Day. Always a romantic card at my place at the table when I get up that morning. At his place, too, as far as that goes--I'm almost as romantic as he is. Until it was better for our health if he didn't buy any more there was candy, too. Not to mention flowers. I used to tell myself it didn't matter, but now that I celebrate the day, it know it's better to. Only if the feeling is there to go with it, though.
Still, why February? Because we need love to keep warm? I vaguely recall a song titled "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm." I think it was popular before I was in my teens. My brother, twenty years older than I, had a dance band, so I do recall some of the songs from his time.
Or just maybe we need something to brighten the cold month besides two President's birthdays.
I have lots of romantic book covers, but instead of the photo coming up when I upload, just the URL for it does, so no hearts and flowers. I do hope every one of you had as enjoyable a Valentine's Day as we did. Now that I think of it, it's probably the fault of the old Romans--or even the Greeks, that the month of hearts and flowers is February.
Jane

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

AN INTERVIEW WITH T.K. TOPPIN



Leave a comment on any of her days and be entered into a drawing to WIN
e-book THE LANCASTER RULE


A NOVEL OF THE YEAR NOMINEE -

Thank you for allowing us to poke and prod...er...ask you a few questions. We're certain the readers are anxious to see the face behind THE LANCASTER RULE TRILOGY.

A and Zi: To begin, what is the funniest incident you ever had that has to do with your writing?

T. K. : So far to date, nothing funny has occurred but I have borrowed some "mild" moments to incorporate into my books. Usually character traits that I think are funny and normal human behaviour.

A and Zi: If you were to spend a year at sea, and one of your characters could come to life and join you, who would he/she be, and why?

T. K. : Well, so long as I'm not barfing my guts out, and they're not too put off by a green-hued woman with puke stains, well, it would have to be the hero in the book. Duhh, who else, right?


A and Zi: Great response! Seasick, eh? Anywho, have you had any pets in your novels? Or - Do you plan on having any pets in your novels? Or - Would you rather be a cat or a dog and why?

T. K. : I've had two pets written into my trilogy. A dog called Fluffy, and a mangy, flea-bitten cat called Hissy.


A and Zi: You just gotta luv those names! Now, tell us, which superhero would you like to be?

T. K. :The Invisible Man...like, come on!! Who would miss (pardon the pun) out on being invisible. Can you imagine the stuff you can get away with? Oh, the possibilities!!


A and Zi: (A tells Zi to stop grinning like the cat who outwitted the bulldog.) What makes you laugh, slapstick or droll humor?

T. K. : Haha! Humour in general makes me laugh, and yes, I've lots of humour in the books. Personally, I like droll humour. Never really been a fan of slapstick.


A and Zi: Finally, and most important of all, what is your favorite pasta and sauce?

T. K. :Mmmm....uh, where to start. Cream sauces, with heaping amounts of cheese. And as for pasta, well, all of them?


A and Zi: Again, thank you for seeing a glimpse into the real T.K. So, anyone ready for lunch? Think we'll have pasta!

Monday, February 21, 2011

THE PARTY CONTINUES

Good Morning!

This is week four of our festivities, and we still have more to share with many Champagne Book authors and even more GIVE AWAYS.

As on day one, anyone who joins the Champagne Book Blog today will receive a free e-book! If you leave a comment you'll be part of today's drawing for a free e-book. If you let a friend know about our blog and they join the blog, you'll both be entered into the end of the month drawing for two print books, an e-book and a surprise gift.

Now, for our blog, we offer for your reading pleasure a glimpse into our world.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Some questions for the dueling duo:

Have the two of you being writing together long, and how many books do you have with Champagne? Does chemistry play a big part?

Z: Three questions, gotcha: 1) We have been writing for what seems to be a lifetime together, separately. There have been many titles published since 1996. B) KILLER DOLLS will be our first with Champagne, followed by SNAKE DANCE and CHASING YESTERDAY. This will be at least our eighteenth collaboration. Finally) As a chemistry major in college, I figured out early that the most entertaining of all experiments were the ones that were the most reactive. So, some days I'm the catalyst and others Angelica is.

A: Zi answered the first two, and I never did pass chemistry, so my response is, we can be combustible when we write together, just playing off each other until we believe we found the right formula that will tease emotion out of our readers.

Z: Angelica as a once Philly girl has an edge that bites but never cuts clean. Couple that with my analytical proclivity and we've a formula for sparks.

A: Sparks... sometimes outright infernos. If you'd always do what I said things would be smoother.

Z: Yes they would... but far less entertaining.

A: You got a point.

A: Zi?

Z: Yes.

A: You think she was just asking about how we got together?

Z: Naw, and if she was, it's a secret.

Another question:

Who has inspired you as writers?

A. In truth, Zi has been a great inspiration to me, and a procurer of seeing the truth behind the words, never compromising that truth, even in fantasy worlds there is a logic and theme that has to be recognized and respected. I owe this revelation to him, taming my creative frenzy when it becomes outlandish.

Z: Just read what you wrote... my response is... poppycock... it was not two days ago that you told me I couldn't spell hero if spotted H E R. No one believe her, she is spinning a tale. I work with her. I know her. She's evil in ways you don't understand. Having said that, I feel very fortunate to share writing with her. Thomas Fuller wrote, "When Fortune smiles, embrace her." Thomas must have met Angelica Hart.

A: You're so full of ca-ca.

Z: That's my story and I'm sticking to it. When the corn is ripe, pick it.

Final questions:

Not many authors of the opposite sex could create a world that both could live in for the length of time it takes to write a book. Tell us, how it happened and how do the characters feel about what you came up for them in one of your books?

A: (Blurts) Let's discuss SNAKE DANCE!

Z: Don't I have a say?

A: (Thinks) Mmmm, sure, but let's discuss SNAKE DANCE.

Z: (Does the eye roll, twice) Fine! (Takes a breath and begins) The creative meeting we had brainstorming the fantasy for SNAKE DANCE was an epic adventure in compromising our lack of a willingness to compromise. The world ultimately became a huge extension of Angelica's imagination. The trade-off was that the characters and the conflict reflected mine. Ahhhhh, if it was only that easy. Whereas, the story unfolded naturally and with simplicity, since we both found a remarkable fascination in the iconic tale. But the color, the facade, the tone and texture were occasionally a confounding task. We literally wallpapered our office with page after page after page of ideas and as we constructed the planet Starling we drew from what seemed to be an endless reservoir of cognitive subtext.

A: Did you tell them that we fought... and fought?

Z: Immmpliiiied.

A: There is a point of sexism that has been raised. The most beautiful component of this Angelica Hart and Zi collaboration is that we have a profoundly deep honor and respect for both sexes, and their place in the natural coexistence of relating. Yes, we see the differences, and adore them. We see the formidable instinctual tugs, and enhance them. So, I think I'm comfortable in saying that it's not the negative we feel but the awesome positive nature of a man and woman creating, they believing, truly believing that the world and the love in it have endless possibilities.

Z: One of the most important points of view I maintain is that every female protagonist is complex, strong, has heroine qualities, and can be the every woman. Mind you, this is hard in fantasy but the template is always in place. I will never agree to a mindless female. Furthermore, Angelica and I have agreed that the principle characters must, and I shall repeat, must have a reason to feel love before they do the horizontal snake dance.

A: As for the characters feel: Well, when they're lonely, they hate us. When they're being chased by the bad guys, they hate us. When we poke fun at them, they hate us. But when we arrange in the finale for them to requite the honest pursuit of love in that very special way, they put us on their Christmas card list.

Z: The depth and complexity of both the world and the conflict we placed in that world is the greatest gift we give each other as writers, for from that aforementioned depth, the characters can often and quickly reveal themselves more richly.

A: And occasionally more naughty.

Z: Duh! Why else the complexity.

In closing:

Z: Thank you for reading about us. As one armadillo said to the other while standing on the side of the road, "Be careful, the walk across could get you tired." It is always my pleasure to try to entertain and we hope we entertained you.

A: You actually used an armadillo reference? Have you no shame? We hope you enjoyed our interview. We want to thank anyone who has ever read anything that we wrote. We write for you.

****

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at angeliahartandzi@yahoo.com and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS
SNAKE DANCE
CHASING YESTERDAY
angelicahartandzi@yahoo.com
angelicahartandzi.com

BOOKS can be purchased at
Champagne Books
http://www.champagnebooks.com


Sunday, February 20, 2011

AN EXCERPT FROM ALLISON KNIGHT'S ROSES FOR MY LADY



EXCERPT:

February 14, 1841, Northampton, England

Gavin Sinclair, Baron Dunleigh, was bored out of his mind.

Why had he come tonight, he wondered, as he watched a bevy of beautiful women whirl around the ballroom in their colorful gowns? He gazed at the guests milling around the lace-covered pillars festooned with red and white roses. All that was missing from the decorations were the ivy leaves advertising the occasion as a prelude to a proposal of marriage. That was the last thing in which he had an interest!

Gavin groaned. Wedlock. Every man here, himself included, had other things on their mind. Still, from the number of people attending this event, Lady’s Sutton’s Valentine’s Ball would be declared a smashing success. It mattered little if some fair maiden tricked her escort into proposing matrimony.

He glanced toward the front arch embellished with smiling cupids, golden arrows and festive hearts and sipped a glass of inferior champagne. How soon could he take his leave without appearing rude?

He patted the pocket of his jacket. At least tonight, he didn’t have to worry about his younger brother. Kenneth’s message had arrived before Gavin left for the ball. The note assured Gavin that although Kenneth had some unfinished business, he would sail on the Valiant Lady in ten days. It would free Gavin from a necessary trip to their Caribbean property.

About time Kenneth began to take an active part in their business enterprises despite his arguments.

“My Lord,” a voice behind him forced him to turn.

He spun toward the speaker. Lawrence Oxley, a good friend of Kenneth’s, stood before him, a worried look marring his effeminate features, his face flushed. Too much drink, or nerves.

“What is it, Lawrence?”

The young man hesitated. Gavin stifled a groan and waited for him to speak, hoping against hope that Kenneth was not involved in another fracas.

“Sir, I’m sorry to bother you, but...” He glanced at the crowd and murmured, “Someplace not so--so crowded?”

Gavin led him to a small alcove off the main hall.

“Better?” he asked.

The young man nodded and gulped--hard.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t keep this to myself a minute longer. Kenneth will want to kill me, but I do believe you ought to know.”

Gavin scowled. Damn! Kenneth was up to something, something not good. He’d been correct in assuming his younger brother was in trouble, yet again.

“Well, man, what is it you think I should know?”

Once again Lawrence cleared his throat. “He’s getting married. Going to Gretna Green.”

An Elopement! Gavin swore. The fool!

“When?”

“Tonight, my Lord!”

The hot burn of anger raced through Gavin. How dare his younger brother try something like this?

Lawrence cowered before him and Gavin assumed it was because of his expression.

“I see…” His words rolled out of his mouth like bits of live coal.

“When?”

“Midnight,” Lawrence croaked.

Gavin pulled his pocket watch from his vest and glanced at it.

“I could have used more time to stop this affair.”

“Sorry, my Lord. It took some time to find you.”

“I take it that you know who he intends to wed and where.” Gavin tossed the words out.
Damn! Kenneth had been nothing, if not trouble, from the moment Gavin assumed his care immediately after the death of their parents. Their verbal battles were legion.

Lawrence swallowed again, his Adam’s apple bobbing against his stiff collar, “Where, but not whom. Oh, I’ve seen the girl but I don’t know her name. She had her come out this year. You had to have met her.”

“I was at my Caribbean plantation last summer so I missed the season. Don’t you know anything about her?”

Lawrence seemed to be studying the floor for answers. Again, he cleared his throat.

“I know she was sponsored by Lady Sophia Palmer.”

Gavin swallowed choice words and slapped his hand against his forehead.

“Sophia Palmer. My Gawd, that woman is a menace, an eccentric of the first water. She’s anything but a lady. Have you no other information?”

“The girl’s father is in the military,” Lawrence murmured, as if that information might have some value.

“Anything else? Anything at all?”

Lawrence shook his head and eased out of the alcove. Gavin almost smiled at the boy’s apparent need to escape.

“All right,” Gavin said. “At least tell me where my brother is meeting this person.”


~*~

www.AllisonKnight.com
www.AllisonKnight.blogspot.com
www.facebook/AuthorAllisonKnight.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

CIARA GOLD ~ EXCERPT ~ THE KEEPER OF MOON HAVEN



Look for more from Ciara on February 24

Leave a comment on any of her days and be entered into a drawing to WIN
e-book THE KEEPER OF MOON HAVEN

THE KEEPER OF MOON HAVEN ~ BOOK OF THE YEAR NOMINEE

Excerpt:

Vin turned away from the cluster of faeries. He’d learned many things since becoming the Keeper, one of which was to use a firm hand when dealing with the Beings of Alfheim Haven. As a result, he rarely bowed to another’s will. He glanced down at the translucent quality of his hand and bit off an oath.

The blasted woman continued to read. Her throat must be hoarse by now. Time flowed differently in Alfheim Haven. A minute in the human realm equated to nineteen minutes here, sometimes even more. She must have read that story for almost three hours. If anything, she was tenacious.

He walked slowly. Her voice pulled at him. He resisted. Doesn’t she have anything better to do with her time?

By the time he reached the keep, his skin was completely transparent. He swung his cape over his shoulder and yanked the front door open with more force than he intended. He must rein in his temper and not give into the human emotion.

I won’t go. She can read until she has no voice and still, I won’t go.

“Vin?”

His mother’s gentle voice broke through his thoughts. His eyes met hers. A flitting worry etched her features before it fled from view. “She calls to you again, doesn’t she?”

He rolled his eyes. He should have never told his mother of his visit to the human realm.

“Just because she calls, doesn’t mean I must go to her. I won’t be manipulated.”

His mother turned her head away, but not before he caught her gentle smile. She studied the flowing fabric of her gown with more interest than it deserved. “Vin, when you saw the woman, did you think to ask her name?”

His mouth gaped. He clamped it shut. Awiergan! What had he been thinking? How would he find her when he bridged to the human realm if he didn’t know her name? Mefylleth drew near, and he wouldn’t have much time to locate the girl or the book. “Aye, but she managed to avoid telling me. It’s an oversight I intend to correct. Have no fear, Mother, this situation will resolve itself soon. I give you my word.”

Before he could change his mind, he disappeared from her sight and into the timeless void that would take him to the human realm—and the nameless woman who summoned him.


****

Ciara Gold

www.ciaragold.com

Available at Champagne Books or All Romance E-books

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004EPZ2G4

The Keeper of Moon Haven is available at Champagne Books
http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=364

and at All Romance Ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-keeperofmoonhaven-489359-143.html

Friday, February 18, 2011

A BOOK TRAILER FROM HOLLY HUNT

THE DEVIL'S WIFE
By
HOLLY HUNT

Thursday, February 17, 2011

EXCERPT FROM T. K. TOPPIN



Leave a comment on any of her days and be entered into a drawing to WIN
e-book THE LANCASTER RULE


A NOVEL OF THE YEAR NOMINEE

Here is another fresh and original excerpt from the Lancaster Trilogy. Check back on the 23rd for a wee interview with T. K. Toppin.

Excerpt from The Lancaster Rule Trilogy: Excerpt from The Eternal Knot: (From Josie’s POV during a luncheon with Elena)

She greeted me with a wide spread of her arms. At her wrists, several gold bracelets jangled and caught the afternoon light. She’d been lounging on a bench, posing, seemingly enjoying the gardens when I had walked in and stood aloofly motionless. A true stage diva, she played her part perfectly. Upon seeing us, she allowed her face to light up with pleasure and airily walked towards us, certain that we’d see her near-naked body through the sheer dress. Even Loeb, conservative and stoic as ever, proved he was still a man and not a robot, flicked his eyes to keep time with her jiggling boobs.

I would have rolled my eyes if I didn’t have to maintain a pleasant face.

“Madam Lancaster,” she beamed with a wide smile. Someone no doubt had briefed her that she was not allowed to shake my hand, as she stopped short at five feet and brought her hands together by her famous bosom. “A pleasure. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I fear, I made a nuisance of myself yesterday.”

“Ms. Greco,” I nodded and offered the gift that I really felt like flinging at her—but that would be wasteful. “A small token in honour of this afternoon.” Smiling just a fraction and making sure it reached my eyes, I placed the small box on the neatly laid table. A small part of me was impressed with my hard-practiced ‘wife of the President’ manner. I was getting quite good at it.

“Oh, so very kind. My thanks. Please, I insist you call me Elena.” She fluttered about the table, indicated I sit, and summoned her mechanical housekeeper for refreshments.

When the housekeeper arrived, I wasn’t surprised to see a replica of a young Greek god-like man. This time I nearly did roll my eyes. The next thing that happened was a perverse thought that had me wondering exactly what this droid was really used for. It was known to happen, after all, where droids were used to fulfil certain fantasies. I stole a discreet look at its crotch to see if it was so equipped and nearly choked on my own tongue. Engorged now had a completely new meaning. I casually glanced at Elena as she spoke with him, and made a mental picture of her in bed with this droid. I nearly shuddered at the thought.

Elena fussed and fretted with instructions, insisting on champagne and specifying that it had to be ice-cold or she’d be very upset, then sent the droid off with a flick of a finger. Envisioning a long afternoon, I glanced at Loeb, who still looked completely occupied with the floral arrangement. I wished for once, I were someone else.