Monday, November 30, 2009

The Morning After

There may be a few of you who remember the song from that movie The Poesiden Adventure? Well it tracks pretty close to the Monday morning silence of a quiet house after four days of chatter, laughing, eating, cooking, running to the store...again, making up extra beds, and last but not leaset , taking advantage of the nice weather to put up that fresh evergreen roping that you bought from your nephews school fundraiser.

There's an eerie silence this morning as its just me and the critters in the house, and if I'm not mistaken, even they, too, are zonked out from the hubbub;)

Still, I wouldn't trade those precious moments for the world and for a few days, I slept like a log having all my chicks under one roof.

This morning, they are out there making a difference in their worlds-and I-- in mine.

I can return to focus on the two novellas and my next novel for Spice-The Dark Seduction of Miss Jane. A story of an American journalist who goes to Victorian London to make a name in the publishing world, and ends up being sedcued by the very darkness she seeks to expose.

More this week:
Thursdays Coffee Talk will feature author, good friend and sister fae (from the Romantic Times faery Ball) Eden Robins. You don't want to miss this one! Inspiring and honest, Eden shares the latest in her writing journey and her life.

Feel free to pick up the new widget for The Master & the Muses, if you like! The countdown has begun and I am very excited for this one!  Thomas Rodin, an eccentric, iconic, creative lover and artist, has few boundries when it comes to his passion. What would it take to tame such a man?

Each novella tells the story of three different women caught up in the reckless desire and unabashed romance of the Pre-Raphaelite era! Helen, Sara and Grace, all three would serve as his inspiration...and he would be their obsession...but only one would capture his heart.

Watch for more here and on my website for excerpts and the fascinating background of my research on this one!

Have a good Monday all!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Sabrina, webmistress of CHEEKY READS!

I met Sabrina at an RT convention and was immediately drawn to her genuine enthusiasum and smile.

When I found her again online at CHEEKYREADS , I could see that she runs her blog with the same sincerety and fun that exemplifies her persona!

Now I do have the coffeepot a perkin', but I have to be honest, this whole "peppermint mocha" thing Sabrina has going is looking mighty tempting!!  For those of you with Starbucks nearby, I suspect you already know what I'm referring to...for those of us out here in the rural heartland...well, we may have to settle for the bottled variety..*sob.

Noentheless, when its chilly outside and the weatherman even mentions the "S" word in a nearby state, its hard not to start thinking of the holidays! (never mind that most stores are already decked out--as it were--with boughs of holly!!)  And then there is that most famous parade of all--Macy's gearing up just around the corner in the states.

And yes, I admit, I have gone through one round of Yankee candle Christmas tree scent...I'm a sucker for pine trees (frasers to be precise)...but I digress...Reading Sabrina's blog today has sparked a new direction for me this year(I know, right? You'd think as an author I'd head straight for books!)

But her advise is not only timely, but smart as well--becasue a book is not only entertainment--but an investment!  So, I'm writing up my questions to ask Sabrina and hoping if we have any booksellers or former bookseller clerks in the crowd they will pipe up with their holiday gift ideas also!!

And so warm up your mugs of whatever is keeping you warm (they havent yet found a coffee brew to label, "man candy," have they?) relax with the fireplace to  keep your toes toasty and let's hear what Sabrina has to share with us today!

Hi everyone! Thank you so much to Amanda for having me here today.

I’ve got my peppermint mocha right here, a sure sign that it’s that time of year again, and I can’t wait to chat! For some, just the mention that the holidays are upon us will bring about groans of frustration. Most of the time those bad reactions are aimed at one thing…holiday shopping.

Well, this year there will be no groans coming from my direction and no last minute mall trip either. Why is that? Because I’ve discovered the ultimate save your sanity, holiday shopping idea – BUY BOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

I’m not joking. If you’ve never seriously considered the awesomeness that a bookstore can hold during the holidays then I’m here to help you out.

First off, book stores have such great ambiance. Ever been to a mall during the holidays only to feel more stressed out and confused about your gift selections than before you went? Take a peek into your local bookstore and you’ll hear cheerful holiday music playing, see festive holiday decorations and smell the aromas coming from the cafĂ©. It makes for one pretty awesome shopping experience.

I know what you’re thinking. “Well yeah, it’s got all that but there’s no way I can get most, or even all, of my shopping done in one place.”

Au Contraire, Mon Fraire!

Have a niece that loves Twilight? Most bookstores carry tons of Twilight items from cool bags to notebooks and everything in between. Even better? Check out the YA section and find her another paranormal series to sink her teeth in. Not only will you be crossing her off your holiday list, but you’ll be fostering a love of books that will last a lifetime.

(*Is your niece Kristina Cook/Astor, by chance?;))

What about that manly man in your life? Think he’s not a bookie? Has he always wanted to travel? Then a glossy travel guide or picture book of the places he dreams of going would be a great gift. Does he love beer? Trick question, I know. What about a Brew your own beer guide or microbrew connoisseur book? There are so many book themes that cross my mind – books on cigars, sports biographies, joke books, etc. Just think about it and I’m sure you’ll think of the perfect theme.

Have young children to buy for? What better gift than to introduce them to the classics you loved as a kid! What kid doesn’t love coloring and activity books? Most stores also carry very cool stuffed animals and toys that coincide with popular book series.

Your girlfriends will love you if you introduce them to a new-to-them romance author. Wouldn’t the holidays be a perfect time to pick out one book to buy for all your friends and invite them over to discuss it after the New Year? You’ll have jump started your very own book club with the coolest chicks you know and a book you’ve hand selected! It’s a gift that could keep on giving every month at book club meetings. Oh, and make sure the wine flows at your meetings, it’ll make the book discussions that much more fun!

See? You really could make a huge dent in your holiday shopping list with just one stop. What’s more, they’ll be personal gifts you’ve picked especially for your friends and family. You’ll be fostering a love of books and helping support your favorite bookstore! Oh, and one last plus – you’ll be supporting authors. It’s kind of like sending them a gift for the holidays too.

(* So true, so true! What an utterly mahvelous idea, darling!!;))  What? I was just agreeing...)

So, tell me who’s on your list this year that you think will be hard to buy for? I’ll be here all day to offer advice! I’ll be working on my own list as well and would love any suggestions you have.

I raise my mocha to toast to a happier holiday shopping experience.

Happy Holidays!
Sabrina @ CheekyReads
 Doesnt this look yummy?
Want more "yummy?"
To ring in the holiday shopping we're giving away a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card to one lucky commenter today!

Let's talk books!!  My thanks to Sabrina for stopping in today!

*Note: there will be no Thursday Coffee Talk on Thur. Nov. 25 so that we can all enjoy the holiday with family and friends. All the best of all you need this season! ~Love, Amanda

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Italian Interview w/ Isn't it Romantic?

Join me at  ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?  today for my first ever Italian review site interview!! This a beautiful site dedicated to some of the best in romance covers! My thanks to Veronica at Isn't It Romantic and Harlequin Spice for making this possible!!

Bear with me as I navigate the time changes and translations, but in the spirit of giving which is internationally  understood, I will be giving away a copy of WINTERS DESIRE, so stop by for a visit!!



Monday, November 16, 2009

TCT Winner!!

Here it is Monday morning once again and I realize once more how fast life moves these days! I am sorely lagging behind in the giveaway department, but I promise to make up for it!!

Over the weekend, we helped move #1 daughter to a new place and I had no idea that a 28 yr old could manage to collect so much stuff (so too, her brothers questioned, but worked heroically and without a peep of complaint, bless them!) Al lis said and done in her "realm" and I came home to find our yard being cleaned of the debris left from the siding doctors. Bit by bit, my psyche is timidly welcoming the oncoming holiday season...and gathering my family and all the pest around us. How blessed we really are!

On top of that-my fav whether man, Bryan is predicting a bit of that "white stuff" this evening;))
Woohoo!!  But, I digress.... TCT winners:

Winner of Kristi's NASCAR book--Mary Ann DeBorde!!! Email me Mary at    and we'll get your book out to you!!

Emily Bryans winner to be announced!!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Nov. 12, 2009: Author, Emily Bryan!

Today I am delighted to have with us, author of fantastic historical romance, Emily Bryan! I met Emily at a Romantic Times Convention, after meeting her online and she is even more genuinely fun in person! Today she talks about her experience with a very real issue facing adolescents--bullying.

So come on in and pour you a steaming cuppa coffee or tea and visit here with my friend, Emily!

When Amanda asked me to share something unrelated to romance, but still relevant to women, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane. I have to admit most of my childhood memories are happy ones, but something happened when I was in 5th grade whose injustice still stings.

I was an early bloomer. I was minding my own business and all of a sudden these bumps started growing on my chest. I ballooned up to a 36B in only a few months. How I envied my friends their flat chests.

And unfortunately, I drew the interest of a couple squirrelly little boys in my class who started chasing me home from school, trying to grab my new breasts. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents, but I finally complained to my teacher.

The next day, I was called into the vice-principal’s office. He grilled me with questions, demanding to know what I’d been doing to make those boys behave that way. I honestly hadn’t done a thing except grow. I still had a child’s heart trapped in my quickly-becoming-a-woman’s body. I was mortified. I left his office blowing snot bubbles, hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

The authorities wouldn’t help me. I didn’t want to tell my folks. They weren’t dealing too well with my change either. It had taken plenty of pleading to convince them I needed a bra instead of looser tops. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The next time those boys started after me, I didn’t run. I beaned them both with my metal lunch box in a place sure to make them forget all about being interested in my breasts. And they never bothered me again.

I have long since forgiven them. They were just hormones with feet and can’t be held to account for the insanity that is early male puberty.

But the vice-principal knew better. He made me feel ashamed of something over which I had no control. I can still feel my blood pressure rise every time I think about it. Young girls are bombarded with messages that scream out that they aren’t quite right, aren’t quite good enough. At a time when the adults in my life should have been helping me over the hurdle of my changing body, that educational professional seriously dropped the ball.

Fortunately, I’ve come to terms with the house of flesh in which I live and it’s just fine, thank you. How about you? Were there some times in your life when you overcame a problem and learned to feel good about yourself? Are there things you’re still working on?

Thanks for having me, Amanda. I’d like to invite your readers to enter my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST at .

I’m giving away a $100 B&N gift card on December 1st! I’d also love to give away a copy of A CHRISTMAS BALL, my newest release, to someone who leaves a comment here today!


What a lovely gift and just before the holidays to boot! Thank you for sharing this very sensitive experience with us, one I am sure most of us have felt at one time or another or know of someone who has.

Even though you were young, your resourcefulness shone even then;)  I love the lunchbox idea* These days, you probably could have filed an harrassement complaint. Though I'm not sure if that makes things better or worse for the student.  I'd love readers to weigh in on these questions presented.

Presently, at our high school we are dealing with an incident that reminds me of the mindset of your principal a bit--we're still awaiting a determination as to what is going to happen to thei administrator.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I'm giving away my books over at Romance in the Backseat this month!!

Just email me who you would like to give a book to !

I'll be choosing a winner soon so hurry!! Lots of good authors chatting about what this month and this theme means to them!!

Artist: Jeff Lagg

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk :Nov.5, author, Kristi Astor aka Kristina Cook

Welcome to the House of Muse kitchen, where the coffee(and hot water for tea) is always on and guests can come in through the back door to have a sit and catch up on whats going on in each other's lives.

Today I am really excited to have with us, the warm and talented author, Kristina Cook aka Kristi Astor.  Already a successful Kensington historical author before I met her, I am honored to call her my writing partner (with Charlotte Featherstone) in the mini-series Celtic Spice anthologies we concieved and wrote together.

But today, we're going to talk about overcoming obstacles. And Kristi's story is one of many I have come to know about, particularly in the writing world. We were just talking about this and had to wonder of the connection to this condition to writer's. I rarely hear of men with the same symptoms, but perhaps they too, exist.

Nonetheless, of those women that I know, who write and also deal with physical obstacles in order to do so, my admiration soars for their courage and tenacity--for their passion to tell a great story!

So, warm up your cups and gather around the table to hear how she spends a typical day in her "office."

"Survival Gear"

So….here I sit in my office, all bundled up in my sweats and thick socks and Ugg boots, my two space heaters roaring away to supplement the heat from my radiator. I clutch a hot mug of tea in my hands, and consider plugging in my heating pad to put in my chair, behind my back.

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, it must be really cold there!” No, it’s pretty much a typical crisp fall day here in the northeast, cool but not yet cold. Still, the heaters and warm clothes and everything else are pretty much my “survival gear”—the things I need in order to accomplish what I need to accomplish each day. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was only diagnosed last year, so it’s still pretty new to me. I’m still adjusting—still trying to learn my way around what feels like a total new body to me (and a traitorous one, at that!).

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. No one knows what causes it, why your body’s immune system suddenly begins attacking your joints. But there’s more than the joint pain and stiffness—there’s also fatigue. I’ve gotten lucky; my joint damage is minimal. I pop two pills every morning now. Interestingly enough, my meds are actually anti-malaria drugs that turned out to treat RA symptoms, too—I feel like I should make use of that and take a trip to Africa or India or something! Before I started treatment, I was having really bad joint pain and swelling in my hands and wrists, and my feet would hurt after standing for a while, but no actual damage was done to the joints themselves. At least, not yet.

The medication has really helped with that, though I still get occasional swelling, and in the dead of winter have been known to wear fingerless gloves all day long (even eating out at restaurants!). But it’s the fatigue that really gets me, and the meds don’t help that at all. I could sleep all day, every day. Getting out of bed to get my kids off to school is a struggle. First, because I’m just exhausted all the time, but also because it takes a good hour or so in the morning before the stiffness goes away.

I’m only 40, but in the mornings I feel like an 80-year old. As soon as my husband leaves to take the kids to school, I climb back in my bed, one of the few places that I always feel warm and cozy and comfortable (the other place would be in a hot bath). Sometimes it’s a few more hours before I get up again. I sometimes fear that, if allowed, I’d stay there all day.

Not a good way to live a productive life—and certainly not a productive life as a writer! Thus, the warm clothes, the multiple heaters, the hot cups of tea, the heating pad in my chair. It helps some, my survival gear, but I know I’ll have to make more adjustments in my life before I can be as productive as I was before.

We all have our own “survival gear” to meet our own individual challenges as women, as moms, as writers, readers. For some people, it can be as simple as a cup of coffee every morning. Or plugging into an iPod. Some women have challenges that are much more serious than mine—I’ve known at least one writer who required an oxygen mask to sit at her desk and write.

I want to thank Kristi for stopping by today and sharing how she is able to press on through this obstacles in her life in order to write. We all have those hurdels-large or small-- that we have to manage in order to achieve our goals. If there is something to be learned here, its that there are those who understand what you're dealing with and will support you and that tenacity and courage is essential to achieving your goals.

Today , Kristi is giving away her recently released, NASCAR series book-FORCES OF NATURE to one lucky winner who comments today!  This book is especially important as Kristi was in the midst of writing it when she learned of her condition. As authors, we pour our beings into writing--and as such, I 've no doubt that this is an exceptional read!
What about you? What’s your daily “survival gear”?

(*I think mine is that first cuppa in the morning;)...Amanda)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Month of Thanks from Romance in the Backseat

This month I'm honored to be taking part in a special giveaway promotion that is rare--
what you win, you win for someone else...

Maybe a friend, who's out of work and hasn't been able to visit a bookstore for awhile, a struggling college student, maybe a secret pal at work--or someone you know that could use a lift from a random act of kindness. Its an awesome idea for the month of thanks!

I'll be joining other authors all month at Romance in the Backseat with my blog on what I am thankful for on November 10th. Come on by and tell me why or who you'd like to give a book to. Its a great idea , so lets spread the love around!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scavenger Hunt at LIT Blog!

Just a reminder that later today--sometime between now and 10 p.m. EST, we'll be posting the "Scavenger Hunt" questions on the LIT(Lust in Time) blog. The quickest commenters to get all the answers right will win the grand prizes (1st place: the necklace, 2nd place: the "The Aussie --Gods of FOOTBALL Naked for a Cause " calendar, and 3rd place: the CD)! So stay tuned....and keep checking back in!

Party time at the LIT Manor

We're having a 48 hour WINTERS DESIRE bash over at the manor!
Come join us for fun trivia about Winters Solstice , excerpts and prizes!