30 June 2011

Duty Calls in print now

I am so excited today because Duty Calls is now available in print  at Black Opal Books & Amazon.com 
as well as in Kindle, Nook and other formats at several online outlets.

~ * ~ * ~

She’d saved his life…
Rafe Hawk refuses to accept the inheritance, of a large English estate, and the title that goes with it, after his birth father’s death because the man chose duty over the woman he loved and their son.
So when he finds himself temporarily living at Kinsale Hall, he’s not prepared to trust anyone associated with the place, including Trudi Delaney and her daughter.
So why, when he looks into their eyes, does he suddenly remember a woman who may have lost her life after a storm while saving his over a decade ago?

Now he could destroy hers...
Instinct warns Trudi Delaney the arrival of the contemptuous American architect at Kinsale Hall will change her life forever. Especially when she discovers he spends so much of his time in areas of Kinsale Hall off-limits to visitors.
Eleven years after escaping from her psychotic husband with a stranger, she’s still plagued by nightmares of events she can’t remember. Events such as, who fathered her beautiful daughter?
Now more than a decade later, she is confronted by another stranger. Will this one destroy everything she holds dear?

What are people saying about Duty calls?

Rachel: "Very well written...

VF: Solid writing...

Lisa: interesting indeed!

t f-d: Rather good :)

K: I want to know more...

wo2011: This is very good writing. Sincere writing. Intelligently done...

Read more reviews


Book Trailer:

29 June 2011

Competition and First Chapter

I do hope you have enjoyed meeting my characters and gaining an insight to Cold, Cold Heart, so for my final offering here is my Prologue and first chapter.  Read on to discover how you can win a copy of Cold, Cold Heart.

My links:


“Get the bag!”

The boy squeezed back the tears. Needle sharp gravel dug deep into already bleeding knees and bit into stinging cheeks as merciless assailants grabbed hold of hair and twisted his neck to the side. He tasted dirt. A cruel smile spread across the ringleader's podgy face.

Still, the boy did not cry. Not wanting to give them the satisfaction, he did what he always did and shut off from the torment and humiliation. Retreating into a safe, secret world of music, he floated as the soothing notes of Chopin's “Nocturnes” carried him beyond the nightmare. In a few minutes, it would be over. It always was. He would get up, dust himself down, and stoically walk to the next lesson, one packed lunch and a pound coin lighter.


The pummeling fists ceased.

“Come back 'ere, yew little bastards, and pick on someone yer own size! Yew wait 'til I get you in class, Tim Reynolds, yew fat prick!”

The boy looked up in time to see his oppressors run off, hotly pursued by a pair of skinny, blue-mottled legs, their owner swearing as she gave chase.

“Here, up you get. It's all right. They've gone.”

He stared up at this timely “Angel of Mercy,” and his tender heart beat a little faster. The world, which up until that moment had been shrouded in so much misery, turned radiant with happiness.

Chapter One

Rachel Warner glanced in her mirror at the forlorn boy huddled on the backseat. Once again the nagging sense of guilt that too often plagued her reared its ugly head.

She cursed under her breath. It was almost eight thirty.

As usual, they were late. In their household, things never ran smoothly. Alex always misplaced his gym shoes. In fact, this latest battle between her and Alexander was over shoes. Or to be more precise, trainers: a hundred-quid worth of designer footwear she couldn’t afford, unless she chose to ignore the unpaid bill reminders pinned on the kitchen memo board.

Alexander vented frustration by kicking her seat.

“Stop it now, Alex.” She tried to act stern. Her heart wasn't in it. She’d learned from painful experience the effect peer pressure could have on a child's fragile psyche. Explaining to a seven-year-old who shared a classroom with fifteen precocious, designer kids that money and possessions didn't necessarily bring happiness—well, it was like trying to tell a dog that bones weren't good for him.

Alex didn't want to be reminded he was lucky to have good health and food on the table, unlike the starving and dying in Africa, when all he desired in the world was a PlayStation 3 and shoes like David Beckham.

The attack on her seat stopped. Alex slumped against the side of their battered Fiat. He didn't sulk for long. He was a good little boy; he understood she did her best.

He sat up straight and fidgeted with the Spiderman schoolbag straps. A lock of sandy-colored hair flopped across his forehead, reminding Rachel she needed to book him in for a haircut before Richard complained.

“We could ask Dad,” he mumbled.

Rachel snorted, swearing under her breath. She strained for a note of optimism. “I will if you want me to.”


Alexander let out a long sigh; a sigh of resignation Rachel hated hearing.

“It's okay, Mum. You'd only be wasting your time. Besides,” he said with a grin, “Granddad would only make him buy me some girlie sandals or something just as naff.”

Rachel giggled at his astute take on Mr. Thompson senior. Her ex-father-in-law would rather turn Catholic than fork out for sportswear promoted by men he considered overpaid, sports degenerates. She sobered up quickly. “I'm sorry, darling.” Alex’s woebegone expression raised her guilt to level two. “Maybe next month.”

They both understood ‘next month’ would never come. Money, or the lack of it, was a permanent issue in their household. “Sometimes I hate you, Richard bloody Thompson,” she muttered. “Actually, make that all the time.”


They pulled up in front of Wyeston Independent Church School just as the bell rang. Alex’s mouth formed into a sulky pout. He hated this school—the school her ex-father-in-law had chosen. Rachel hadn’t had much say in the matter.

“Cutting it fine this morning, aren't we?”

Lynn, Rachel's best friend of twenty-two years, opened the back door and bustled out a reluctant Alex. “Hurry up. Tanya's waiting and not happy about it.”

He ran off to join his honorary cousin, the one person who made school life bearable. The little girl waited impatiently by the gate, her Barbie bag clutched against her matching T-shirt, the princess mules she insisted on wearing tapping on the asphalt. Lynn totally ignored the headmaster’s threatening letters on the subject of uniform rules. She was adamant. No kid of hers was gonna dress like a lesbo.

Tanya presented a picture of innocence, hair tumbling around her shoulders in a halo of russet-red ringlets—until she opened her mouth. The sound that burst forth from her doll-like frame would have drowned out the Right Hon. Ian Paisley.

“Yer fecking late again.”

Shaking her own amber curls, Lynn sighed. “I don't know where I'm going wrong.” Her jade green eyes narrowed. “Tanya! If you don't get out of that fecking puddle, I'll brain yew!”

Rachel arched an eyebrow. “You were saying?”

Jill Holmes chose that moment to strut by, her over-lifted face trying, but failing, to frown at Lynn. Rachel was perfectly aware Jill and her band of gold-card-carrying friends thought Lynn O'Donnell-Hudson too vulgar for words.

“Tight-arsed bitch.” Lynn lit up a slim menthol cigarette and promptly raised her finger at the back of the retreating Jill in her good morning salute.

“You'd think all those smoothies and wheat germ muffins for breakfast would loosen her up a little, wouldn't you.” Rachel watched Jill step up into her state of the art people carrier. “God, I hate that woman and not only because she is Allison's friend.”

Turning back to Lynn, she studied her with amusement as she held a gold compact at arm's length while she revamped her already blood red lips. “For goodness’ sake, Lynn, is it necessary for you to come to school dressed as if you're about to audition for a ‘50 Cent’ video?”

“These shorts, I'll have you know, emphasize my killer arse and twenty-two-inch waist.” Lynn pouted at her reflection. “Which, apart from driving my daughter's young, rather sexy teacher crazy with lust for me, pisses them off big time.” She jerked her thumb in the direction of the carpool of happy pill parents. “Besides which I have a class at ten. Fat and Over Forty.” She shuddered. “Jeesus, I'd kill myself if I ever got into that state.”

While hubby, John, slaved away over a hot desert, Lynn kept busy (and out of trouble) by running a dance and exercise school. John, putty in her hands, was only too happy to indulge her passion. He'd paid out a small fortune for the refurbishment of a church hall so she could realize her dream. Now Lynn mixed business with pleasure, compensation for ‘sacrificing’ a promising stage career for love.

“Talking of classes, Rach, don’t forget you promised to help me out with the seven o'clock tonight.” Lynn beamed at her.

Rachel groaned. It had completely slipped her mind. She didn't mind taking the occasional class for Lynn. The cash Lynn forced into her hand came in handy. But for once, she could have done without it. The weekend had been a hectic round of swing-parks and sleepovers, and her house still suffered from Monday morning hangover.

“It's the show soon.” Lynn, noting her hesitation, pushed home her point. She could lay guilt trips big time. “Oh, come on, Rach. What's the alternative—an evening of Britain’s got Talent and Deal or No Deal? Alex can wait with Tan, and when we're done, I'll stand us all a double Whopper burger. Give the kid a break. It's got to beat seared chicken breasts and pita bread.”

“You never did fight fair, did you?” Rachel guessed Alex would be in complete agreement with his she's-more-fun-than-you aunt. “Okay.” She slipped behind the wheel before Lynn coerced her into anything else. “I'll do it, although God knows what shape I'll be in by tonight. We've got new arrivals today. Some mega pop star from America, I think. He's here for three days, and he's bound to be a pain in the bloody arse—or should I say 'butt'? Spoilt and demanding as hell. They usually are¼what?”

Lynn turned a peculiar shade of purple. “Not Daniel Haines? Don't tell me that the Daniel Haines is coming to The Country House?”

“Yes, the Daniel. Should I be impressed?”

Lynn’s mouth hung open in goldfish mode. “You've got to be kidding me. Even you must have heard of Daniel Haines. Duh. He's only the biggest thing to hit the scene since Elvis.”

Rachel dripped sarcasm. “And there's me thinking it was Robbie.”

“You are lame. Robbie is so last year.”

“Oh? And does Mr. Williams know?”

Grimacing at her lack of savvy, Lynn leaned against the car door as Rachel tried to close it.

“Daniel is young, dynamic, and American, and so¼so¼well, let's just say that I could do things for him.”

“Which you can't because you're a twenty-seven-year-old married woman with a daughter, a mortgage, and a budgie, so forget it.”

“A girl can dream, can't she?” Lynn pouted.

Rachel sighed. She was used to Lynn's crushes which, although endearing in a twelve-year-old, were rather tedious in a not-too-far-off thirty. She, on the other hand, in her position of assistant to the manager of the exclusive hotel, had met her fair share of celebrities and found them wanting. Actually, not all. To be fair, the Death Metal band, The Rotting Corpses of Salem, had been the epitome of good manners and charm. Which was more than could be said for that hip-hop artist, Mr. Blow (Or was it Blow Me?). Rachel shuddered at the memory. He'd given new meaning to the word vomit.


Lynn rapping on her skull brought her back to the present.

“I said any chance of tickets for one of his gigs? Saturday would work for me.”

“No and no. Besides, you know the hotel policy. The staff is not allowed to harass the guests.”

“Who's talking harassment?” Lynn rotated her hips in a lewd manner. “A quick shag behind the kitchens would do.”

“Oh, grow up.”

“Ooooh, someone's in a bad mood this morning.” Picking up a strand of Rachel's hair between her fingers, Lynn frowned. “Your color needs doing, and as for the cut, well, if that’s your attempt at boho chic, forget it. It's more like boohoo chicken.”

Rachel slapped her hand away. “My color is fine, thank you.” She gathered her honey shoulder-length locks and wound them into a precarious knot at the back of her head. “I have no desire to return to my bimbo past. Some of us have moved on.”

“Don't knock it, sweetie. It bagged me a man in oil, didn't it?” Lynn screwed up her eyes. “Okay, I'll be serious. What's up? Has Rick the Prick been hassling you?”

“No, not yet, although the day is young.” Rachel frowned. “It's Alexander. We had the trainer discussion again. It's his birthday soon and….”

“And you're broke.” Lynn clicked in exasperation. “God, Rach. You can be one stubborn cow. I told you I would lend you the money. What's the point of me having a wealthy husband if I can't let my friend use him from time to time?”

Rachel shook her head. Sometimes Lynn's take on life was a little off the wall. “You know why I can't accept your offer, dear friend. I see no point in introducing Alex to expensive designer goods when I can't afford to buy them for him. It would be unfair to tempt him.”

Lynn folded her arms and regarded her with mild disbelief. “Sometimes you are so righteous it's sickening. It must be all that Sunday School.”

“Hah, you can talk.”

“Ah yes, but we Irish Catholics know how to do decadence and fun. We simply repent afterwards. Three Hail Marys and it's sorted. Now, back to Daniel Haines….”

Rachel turned the key and the engine spluttered to life. “I'm off. My head is killing me, and you are not helping. And I am sooo late!”


Question. We all love the chance to get even with an ex who hurt us. If given that chance, what would you say or do to them as pay back. Best answer wins a copy of Cold, Cold Heart.

28 June 2011

Vivianne's Lynn doesn't mince her words...

You all still there,

Okay, so here’s the deal. I love Rachel to bits but sometimes I could shake the fecking brains out of her. I don’t understand why she won’t let my brothers kick the sh***out of her moron ex-husband. Rick the Prick, I call him and, believe me, he is the world’s biggest.

Back to Rachel. What is wrong with that girl? I mean, she has the gorgeous, sexy, amazing – extremely rich Daniel Haynes practically grovelling and she blows him off? Now, if it was me, I’d be doing a bit of blowing off of my own….ok…ok, I’ll shut up about that. After all, children might be reading.

Daniel Haynes is probably the hottest guy on this side of the galaxy {my own gorgeous John excepted, of course} but Rachel just won’t accept he could be interested in her. I blame dickface, Richard. He has put her down so much, she no longer has any confidence in herself. And then there’s Alex. So, she’s scared of losing him. I get that, I really do, but it makes my blood boil to watch the Thompsons constantly manipulate her insecurities. Richard doesn’t want Alex and it breaks my heart to see how he treats his son, always disappointing him. How will this all pan out? I don’t know. For the moment, I am sitting in my vip seats, next to Rachel, waiting for the great man to come on stage. Rachel says Daniel’s P.A gave her the complimentary tickets but I am not buying it. My dear friend’s eyes are burning just a little too bright. I think the delectable Daniel has got to her. I hope so but, like you, I will have to wait and buy the book to find out. I hope Ms. Brentanos gives us all a happy ending. If she doesn’t, I’ll kick her fecking Brit arse too.


Daniel Haynes has the world at his feet- fame, fortune, so why does he feel so empty inside? What is his interest in Rachel Warner, a girl from a quiet Home Counties English town? Why does she hold the key to his happiness?

But Rachel Warner is scared. Daniel's interest in her threatens her ordered yet unsatisfying life because she has to live with the shadow of her ex-father-in-law breathing over her shoulder. Can she let go of her fears?

Rachel threw open the front door. "Oh…” Her stomach swapped places with her heart. There he stood again…like Jaws. Just when she thought it safe to go back in the wate... da da da da da... and so on. “It's late,” she blurted out, because at that moment she couldn't think of anything else to say—at least nothing coherent.

“May I come in?” he asked quietly.

“No!” she shot back before thinking it through. The sight of Daniel Haines standing on her excuse-for-a-porch had her shell-shocked.

“Okay.” He gave that wry little smile. “Now let's see how this could play out.” He rubbed at his chin. “Mmmm... you don't let me in, I stand here and bang on your door until you do, by which time the neighbors come out, see me and wonder what I'm doing here. They then probably call the Sun or worse, the Star, and—”

Grabbing him by his sleeve, she dragged him into her home, slamming the door behind him. “You certainly know how to play dirty, don't you?” She snapped “Sorry but I'm desperate.” He looked around her humble abode. “Hey, nice place.”

“Now you're being facetious.” She folded her arms across her chest, all too aware she wore nothing more than a skimpy pair of pajama shorts and a revealing camisole top that had “come and get me” stamped across the front.

“Don't be so damn touchy, honey.” He turned to her, gaze flickering over her body.

Unease stabbed in her chest. “Touchy?” She stepped back, indignation threatening to choke her. “You've got a bloody nerve... showing up here in the middle... and I'm not your honey.” The absurdity of the situation sank in. She wondered if she'd fallen asleep after all and was in the middle of a bad dream. Only it wasn't so bad because he did look rather hot in habitual black. He took a step closer to her and she smelled the fresh, clean scent of damp hair. He'd obviously come straight from the shower. Now she understood how Alice in Wonderland must have felt and for one scary moment she thought she might faint. He must have sensed it too and put his hand on her shoulder.

“Are you okay? You look pale.”

“Low...blood pressure,” she garbled.”Just what are you doing here and how did you find me?”

“Your receptionist, Lucy isn't it? She was very helpful, although I have to admit I didn't play fair. She gave me your address and I got my driver to bring me here.”

Rachel went into panic mode. “Please don't tell me you have a limo parked outside my driveway.”

“You don't give me a lot of credit, do you? I'm not that stupid. I sent him away.”

“A bit presumptuous of you, don't you think? Your audacity never ceases to amaze me. How did you know I'd let you in? Especially after you wasted my entire evening.”

“I didn't.” Daniel gave her that lazy smile. He held up his cell. “I can call him back anytime. It's not fair keeping him out so late, I admit, but as I said, I was desperate.” The smile disappeared, as, with trembling hand, he reached out to her again.

Rachel's mouth went dry but she held her ground. “And just why were you so desperate?” For one tension-filled moment he said nothing. He just stared into her eyes, pulling her in, drawing her to him until she thought she suffocated. She had to look away.

“I had to see you again. I couldn't leave town knowing you thought so badly of me, knowing I'd upset you.”

“You didn't upset me.” Rachel pushed him away. She turned her back to him. Once again he'd read her so easily. “Why should you have upset me? I meanyou're nothing to me... I—”

“I saw you, Rachel.” He slipped an arm around her waist and, gently, turned her around to look at him. “I saw your face.” His voice was a soft caress. “And I know what you were thinking, but that's not what was happening.”

“It doesn't matter—”

Daniel put a finger to her lips. “It matters to me.”

Rachel listened, feeling a complete fool as he explained about the competition winners.

“I did ask Mai to cancel, but in the end I couldn't. The girls would have been so disappointed. I'm so sorry, but you do understand, don't you? Mai was supposed to let you know, but...I guess she forgot.”

Her head was ready to explode. A mixer-tap of sensation ran through her body. Her madly beating heart felt too big for her chest. She shivered. The light in his eyes thrilled her and yet she was frightened. He held her in both arms now, fingertips searing through her flimsy attire. “Please..." She faltered. “...Please don't touch me.” She removed his hands from her waist. “I don't understand. Why does my opinion of you matter so much?”

“Because...” He caressed her cheek. “I'm in love with you.”

My links:






27 June 2011

Vivianne's Rachel takes the floor

Viviane Brentanos
Vivianne, before Rachel takes the floor, please will you tell us a little more about yourself?
I was born in Reading Uk in 1958. My father is English and my mother is French although there is a strong vein of Spanish on my maternal grandmothers side. I was educated at various schools before completing Sixth Form College at St Peter's Huntingdon. I somehow managed to collect A levels in English, French and History and I subsequently won a place at Sheffield University where I decided to read Classical Civilization. Once there, however, I decided that I had had enough of the academic life; I found the student mentality rather false and having been brought up in student circles, rather boring. Much to my mother's horror, I gave up my studies and went to London to begin a course as a Canine Beautician.

In 1984, my first husband and I parted ways amicably and I decided to visit the Ionian island of Corfu to celebrate my new freedom. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I still remember to this day, sitting in a café-bar, overlooking the crystal clear azure sea and saying to my friend. "I never want to leave here". And here, I still am. I am now married again, to a Greek, Alexander {not the Great}, and I have two teenage children, 2 dogs and 4 cats and a lion-head white rabbit masquerading as my literary agent. I absolutely love the life-style here. I would recommend it to anyone.

Daniel Haynes has the world at his feet- fame, fortune, so why does he feel so empty inside? What is his interest in Rachel Warner, a girl from a quiet Home Counties English town? Why does she hold the key to his happiness?

But Rachel Warner is scared. Daniel's interest in her threatens her ordered yet unsatisfying life because she has to live with the shadow of her ex-father-in-law breathing over her shoulder. Can she let go of her fears?

Oh hello,
You just caught me on a coffee break. It’s been a helluva morning. Late for work, files not where they should be and the early arrival of yet another rock band on the executive floor. I met them all earlier. Typical lot, except their boss and singer, Daniel Haines unnerved me a tad but not as much as his PA, some intense Japanese Kill Bill wannabee called Mai.

But back to this Daniel. I really don’t know what is going on with him. He is one weird guy, the weirdest famous person - guest I have ever met. He waltzed into my office as if he owned it and proceeded to interrogate me about my marriage – or should I say, failed marriage. Strange, really. I got the impression he really cared which is completely nuts. Why on earth would Daniel Haines mega star be interested in me? Okay, I am not quite on the scrap heap but I might as well be. My lovely ex and his father make sure of that. I have to live my life like a nun. It’s worth the sacrifice because I will not risk losing my son Alexander to them but I digress.

So back to Daniel. Yes, he is drop dead gorgeous, the best thing since sliced bread, if my mad Irish friend Lynn, is to be believed. He is also very intelligent, well spoken and obviously comes from old money. It is odd. I feel this strange connection to him. Am I attracted to him? I think you’d have to be a nun not to be but my feelings scare me. I have no business being attracted to him. I don’t belong in his world and it’s too dangerous to let him into mine. Alright, I hear you; I am an emotional coward but if you knew my story you would see I have no choice. He wants me to go to his show. I have two complimentary tickets burning a hole in my pocket. I can’t go, of course – or can I? Should I? Oh what the hell. It’s only a music gig and it is not as if he’s Death Metal or anything and I doubt my ex will find out and this Daniel will be gone in two days so no harm done….you think?

The lights dimmed again and a crescendo of noise crashed over her head as fifty thousand people leapt to their feet and Daniel’s band ran out on stage.

“Come on!” Grabbing her by the hand, Lynn dragged Rachel from the comfort and security of her seat and plunged her into the screaming multitudes already surging up against the metal barrier. It was okay for Lynn. Years of rugby scrumming with her huge Belfast shipyard brothers and cousins stood her in good stead. She pushed and clawed her way to the front with Rachel clinging to her hand for dear life. Before she could scream an angry protest, a massive tsunami roar erupted and Daniel stepped out on stage.

In the midst of the Brazilian wave of fans, Rachel found she could not move. This man who strutted and danced from one end of the stage to the other, working the crowd, playing and teasing the girls into a frenzy as he smiled down, flirting, seducing the adoring audience into a state of near-hysteria—this was not the same man who, hours before, had been in her office, sitting at her desk, drinking coffee and listening to her trials and tribulations. As she watched him now, the worshipped idol of thousands, it all seemed like a dream.

He approached the edge of the stage and for one heart-stopping moment he seemed to stare right at her. A warm flush spread up from her toes to the roots of her hair. At her side, Lynn, in a state of near collapse, jumped up and down, screaming and twisting Rachel's arm. “Did you see that?”

Above the pounding beat of drums and guitars, Rachel just about made out her ravings.

“He looked at me! Oh, I think I'm going to have an orgasm.”

For the next hour, Rachel was pushed prodded and kicked (more often than not by Lynn). She was desperate to get back to her seat. It was impossible. Wedged tight against the barrier, hordes of screaming girls hemmed them in. With hands stretched up, they cried out for their god to touch them.

By now the Golden Boy had removed his leather jacket—much to the collective joy of thirty thousand or more females—displaying a toned torso beneath a tight-fitting, V-neck T-shirt that didn't quite meet hipster jeans: black naturally! Lynn retrieved a pair of her weeniest knickers from her pocket.

“You dare, Lynn Hudson!” Rachel shrieked in her ear. Grabbing the scrap of black lace, she stuffed it back where it came from.

“You are so not fun! Everyone does it. Oh, I can't believe it!” She dug her nails into Rachel's by now black and blue arm. “This is my favorite.”

So far every song had been her ‘favorite.’ Lynn could still do groupie with the best of them.

Slowly Rachel relaxed, caught up in the magic of Daniel Haines. The lights dimmed and when he moved to sit at a magnificent grand piano, her enjoyment turned to rapture. He mesmerized her. His fingers flew over the keys and the cacophony of noise abated. Hushed silence filled the auditorium. He held the crowd spellbound as his beautiful but powerful voice delivered a haunting ballad. The hairs on the back of her neck lifted when the pure notes soared up into the roof. She wanted to cry. She wanted to stay in the moment forever.

All too soon the romantic interlude ended and the crowd let out a roar of appreciation when the pony tailed guitarist let rip with the opening riff of “Never You.”

“Now it’s definitely my favorite,” Lynn gasped, by now well and truly “Lost in Music.”

My links:





Please come back tomorrow and hear what Lynn has to say.

26 June 2011

Please welcome Vivianne Brentanos for the next four days

Hi Vivianne, thank you for joining THoR for the next few days. Please will you tell us why writing is so improtant to you?
In 2005,I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer - for the SECOND time in 5 years. It is when you are faced with your own mortality that one begins to put one's life into perspective. Thankfully, God was yet again on my side and I am now in full remission. But I decided that there was more to me than being a mother {although, I hasten to add, it is a worthy assignment.} I decided to finally get my head down and do what I'd always promised myself; I was going to finish a novel. I have been writing romance since my early teens, mostly for my own satisfaction and for my friends but now I really want to work at it.

Writing has become my passion. I have always been a "romantic", often accused of not living in the real world but who wants to do that? I like to call my work romance with a quirky, humorous Brit twist and I am always striving to make my characters real, characters we can all relate to. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and of the LA chapter LARA. I still fly back to the UK at least twice a year - especially if Darren Hayes {my other passion} is performing but I have to say that my heart is now in Greece. I suppose with so much Mediterranean blood flowing through my veins, I didn't stand a chance against this magical Island. The imaginary island of Kuros - featured in DreamWeek and Fragile Dreams - has been inspired by my beloved Corfu and I hope it will inspire you all to visit.

My day job is Hotel Receptionist. Think Fawlty Towers and you will get the picture.

Over the next few days I'd like to introduce you to the characters Cold, Cold Heart.

Today, let me introduce you to Daniel...

Hi there,

My name is Daniel Haines but, I suppose if you are reading this, you already know that. Please, I don’t want to sound conceited but no point in pretending. I am a world-famous mega star of the music industry – at least that is what my loyal entourage and fans tell me. I have it all: money, fame, the world at my feet. I ought to be happy – but I am not. You see, I crave something that has eluded me for years: love-or to be precise – the love of one woman.

So here I am, sitting in my hotel room, surrounded by my band and team, all of us kept under control by my ever efficient, loyal but sometimes annoying P.A, Mai. Tonight, I will perform in front of thousands of devoted fans in the first gig of my UK tour. I am ready, of course; I always am. I pride myself on being the consummate professional but sometimes it is hard to remain focused…like now. You see, I have seen her…my love, the one person who would make my life complete. I have waited so long for this moment but now it is here, I don’t know how to react, how to handle it. She is like a frightened bird, cautious, ready to fly away. I don’t blame her. She has no idea that I care for her. I don’t think she wants me to care for her. Her life is in turmoil. I want to tell her how I feel but part of me is scared she will reject me and then, of course, common sense kicks in. What right do I have to insinuate myself into her already complex life? Am I being selfish? I have to think not. I love her. I want to protect her from all of the challenges facing her but I know she is an independent woman. Will she let me in?

And then, there is Alexander, her son. She loves him more than life itself. I don’t know too much about his relationship with his father but I have learned enough to understand he depends on his mother for so much. This woman…she believes her ex-husband is just waiting to snatch the boy from her care. A relationship with me would give him ammunition to use against her but I am jumping ahead of myself. First, I have to win her trust and then, hopefully, her love. Oops, time to go. Mai is breathing fire.

Talk soon,

Daniel Haines

Daniel Haynes has the world at his feet- fame, fortune, so why does he feel so empty inside? What is his interest in Rachel Warner, a girl from a quiet Home Counties English town? Why does she hold the key to his happiness?

But Rachel Warner is scared. Daniel's interest in her threatens her ordered yet unsatisfying life because she has to live with the shadow of her ex-father-in-law breathing over her shoulder. Can she let go of her fears?

“You are not having a good day, are you?”

She sat up, ramrod-straight. Daniel Haines leaned against the open door, his arms folded and gaze fixed on her, probing once more.

“Do you always eavesdrop on private conversations?” Rachel rubbed at her eyes, grateful she'd been in too much of a hurry to bother with mascara.

“The door was open,” he replied in that Yankee tone. “I apologize….” He made a point of knocking loudly. “May I come in?”

Without waiting for her answer, he walked into the room, sat down in the chair on the other side of her desk and stretched out long legs before crossing them at the ankles.

“Make yourself at home…I would,” Rachel muttered. She pulled herself together. He was, after all, a hotel guest and a very important one at that.

For one long moment, he did nothing but stare at her, an unfathomable expression on his face. Then he said quietly, “You shouldn't allow him to intimidate you, you know.”

At first Rachel thought she'd misheard him. “Are you always so presumptuous?” she managed to blurt out.

“No.” He smiled at her. “I'm only concerned.”

A frisson of unease ran down her spine.

He leaned across the desk. “Actually, I've come to apologize for Mai. She can be real possessive at times.”

“Possessive?” Rachel tried not to laugh. “Obsessed more like. I mean I know she's beautiful and probably very obliging, but how can you stand to be smothered like that?”

“Excuse me?” He sat up. “Now who's being presumptuous?”

Guilt caused her cheek to grow hot. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply….”

He waved her apology aside. “Forget it. You are free to think what you want. As I said, I'm here because I believe my crew treated you with less than professional courtesy. Sometimes the guys get carried away. Try and understand. It's hard being cooped up in hotel rooms for weeks on end.”

Rachel couldn't hold back her grimace. Here it comes, the I'm-so-misunderstood-my-life-is-not-my-own sob story. She'd heard it a hundred times over and usually following a night of drunken excess and loutish behavior that prompted a host of complaints from the hotel cleaning staff.

“Interesting.” The smile disappeared. “You're skeptical. Are you judging me? You see me as an underworked, overpaid, and probably oversexed musician. I don't impress you much, do I?”

Her mouth fell open at the astute appraisal.

“You don't know anything about me, Miss…or is it Mrs.? I seem to recall a child being mentioned.”

Rachel’s hackles went back up. “It doesn't state anywhere in my job description that I have to discuss my personal life with the guests, Mr. Haines. I….” The words died in her throat. Reaching out to her, he pushed aside a lock of hair that strayed from her ragged chignon. Warm fingertips brushed against her cheek. She shrank back, her reaction born out of habit and her dislike of physical intimacy. She only felt comfortable hugging and touching Alex.

“Please.” His tone caressed. “Call me Daniel.”

“No.” The word left her lips before she had time to think. “I…I couldn't. It wouldn't be professional.” She looked away, heat creeping up her neck and rising to her cheeks. To her relief, he sat back, arms folded.

“You are so wound up.” Amusement etched tiny lines around his eyes. “You do need to chill.”

“I am perfectly 'chilled,' thank you.” She sniffed, more than a trifle irked.

“I think not. You're stressed. I can tell.”

“Mr. Haines, just why exactly are you here?” She was in no mood for American psycho-babble. She shuffled the papers on her desk, feigning efficiency.

“If you must know….” He folded his arms behind his head and the black T-shirt rose up, affording Rachel a glimpse of well-toned, tanned stomach muscles. “I've come to return your form. I know, I could have sent Mai, but I didn't want to be responsible for a blood bath. Quite honestly, I don't know who is scarier, you or Mai. Okay, okay, stop glaring.” He made the sign of the cross. “I'm kidding. Seriously, I couldn't think of anything to write. There’s nothing I need. We are all very comfortable here. My compliments to the man.” Gaze drifting to the shelf behind her head, he sniffed the air. “However…that coffee smells real good. I've changed my mind. There is something I need. A cup of that would just hit the spot. The stuff room service delivers is pretty damn weak. You can put that in the complaints section, if you like.”

Rachel swallowed. He wanted a cup of her coffee? The entire interlude was too surreal for words.

"Do you mind?” The blue eyes probed her thoughts again. “Only if it's not too much trouble….”

“Mind? Oh…no…of course not. Excuse me one moment, please. I'll just...em...find another mug.” Dropping to her knees, she rummaged through the cupboard under her desk for an un chipped mug.

Pushing aside four years' worth of debris, she wished the green hotel uniform had a longer, not-so-tight fitting skirt.

“Having trouble down there?”

Rachel sat on her haunches, her face flushed, cream blouse in disarray. “No.” Clutching a stained cup to her palpitating chest, she got to her feet, stumbling as her thighs protested. “Milk, sugar?” She turned to the machine. By now, she felt hot and bothered and more unruly strands of hair escaped the hairpins.

“I'm hurt. Isn't it your job to know these things? Aren't you supposed to be acquainted with my every like and dislike?”

Rachel spun round, sharp retort at the ready, but then she saw the sparkle in his eyes.

He laughed at her pique. “You really don't know anything about me, do you? Oh, but don't apologize. It's really refreshing.”

My links:






Please come back tomorrow when I'll introduce you to Rachel

22 June 2011

Discover more about Cate's San Francisco Dreams

San Francisco Dreams - Heading into the unknown.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always admired the pioneer spirit – people packing up all their belongings and heading off into the sunset, knowing they might never again see the loved ones they left behind. But the thrill of adventure always made me a bit envious too.

While Victorian times may not equal pioneer times, there were still those who left their lives behind to start new ones. For instance, Norah Hawkins and Gerard “Mac” MacKenzie, the heroine and hero of my historical novella, San Francisco Dreams. Despite modern conveniences like the electric light and the telephone, the early 1900s still held quite a few challenges.

As one of the largest cities in the U.S. at the time, San Francisco enjoyed a variety of cultures, and culture clashes. It offered vices such as gambling and opium dens, dancing halls and prostitutes. Men were warned against wandering off alone because they might be shanghai’d and never seen again.

The 1906 earthquake and its aftermath fascinated me. More than 3,000 lost their lives in the horrific disaster, and the city was nearly reduced to rubble. But the survivors had pluck. The following day, some businesses reopened. The mayor rebuilt the trolley system and launched it within ten days. Their triumph over the catastrophe was due to sheer will power.

Of course, as a writer, I couldn’t wait to toss two characters into the fray! Not just any characters – Norah and Mac come from disastrous pasts, and want to start a new life in San Francisco. They have no idea how the survival skills they’ve learned along the way will become critical.

You can view the book trailer, read the Story Elements, see the Casting Call (who I envisioned in these roles, a very fun blog series I started), and read the first chapter of San Francisco Dreams on my blog. http://catemasters.blogspot.com/2009/05/magic-of-lavender-contemporary.html

Here’s the blurb:
Can the daughter of a well-known prostitute start a new life where no one knows her family history? Norah Hawkins is sure going to try. When a letter arrives deeding her property in San Francisco, she packs her bags.

Irishman Gerard MacKenzie likes his life free and easy, but is tired of the snobbish East Coast folk. San Francisco has enough vice and folly to suit his needs. Meeting Norah gives him the opportunity to bartend in her saloon. Maybe he can convince her to let him play the piano too. She’s a shrewd businesswoman, and negotiating with her makes his blood boil. Damn if she doesn’t make his blood boil in other ways too.

The morning of April 18, 1906, a terrible earthquake buries their dreams beneath the city’s ruins. Can Norah and Mac rebuild their lives? Will rebuilding their dreams bond them forever, or tear them apart?

And an excerpt:
Mac’s fingers danced across the keys, and he gave himself over to the music. Ah but it felt grand to play after so long.

Ending one of his favorite Beethoven sonatas, his neck hair stood on end. He glanced up to see her only a few feet away, staring as if transfixed by the music.

He drew his hands away. “Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. If I don’t practice, I get rusty.”

“It was beautiful.”

So was she. Her hair, loosely bound in a knot and hanging to one side, made his fingers curl, wanting to explore the silken strands.

He forced himself to look away. “People generally like it.”

“Do you know other such songs?”

Had she never heard classical music? “Yes.” His fingers stroked the keys, teasing out another song.

After it ended, she sighed. “I had no idea.”

“Does this mean you’ll let me play for your customers?”

“I can’t.”

Defeat slumped his shoulders. Such a hard-headed woman. He’d touched her soul with his music, but it wasn’t enough. “Right.”

“I can’t afford to pay a bartender and a piano player.” It sounded more like a plea than an argument.

“We could always play a hand of poker, and you could pay me with your winnings.”

“What if I don’t win?” She evaded him.

He suppressed a smile. “The odds are in your favor by design, aren’t they?”

“What do you mean?” The softness left her voice.

“Your methods are good, but not undetectable. I knew what you were doing on the train.”

Her eyes widened. “Why didn’t you turn me in then?”

“I figured you must need it.”

She tilted up her chin. “I left that lifestyle behind in Trenton.”

“Or on the train.” He meant to tease her, but it had the opposite effect.

Her cheeks flushed a rosy hue. She squared her shoulders. “Yes. On the train. I’m making a new life here.”

Slowly, he rose. “So am I.” Did he really need to remind her?

“I know. Maybe in the future, I can help you.”

He scanned her length. She could help him right now. If he didn’t depend on her for his weekly wage, he’d take three steps to whisk her up in his arms, carry her up to her bed, and unleash the devil on her. Maybe bring out the devil in her too. Yes, he’d love to see that. Feel her slender calf along his waist, her hair tumbling around her shoulders. He’d quench the desire burning in her eyes.

Without thinking, he edged toward her. “That would be nice.”

She tensed. “Yes.”

The word caught him like a hook and drew him closer. “Yes?”

In closing the narrow space between them, the meaning had changed. When, at the last moment, she ducked away, he caught her in his arms. “Norah.”

Pushing at his chest, she searched his face, lingering at his mouth.

His chest tightened, and his lips met hers. At her caress on his cheek, he tightened his hold. When she returned his kiss with equal passion, all reason fled his brain.

“Norah,” he murmured. His growing need urged him to press his lips against her cheek, her jaw, her neck. Explore every inch of her, though the more he tasted, the more he wanted.

She clutched his shoulders, exposing more of her neck. He trailed his lips along its length, his desire heightened by her moans.

Until he realized what she moaned. “No. No no no.”

Dazed, he froze to be sure he heard her right. “No?”

Pushing from his arms, she stumbled backward, as if equally unbalanced by the kiss. Her fingers sought out the edge of the table behind her.

"No,” she said, breathless.

“But you…” He stopped short of accusing her of inviting it. Had she? He’d wanted her to.

“No,” she said more certainly. “And never do that again.” Fear edged her husky tone. So she’s not as hard-hearted as she wants everyone to believe. He could almost smell her need. But again her frightened look gave him pause.

San Francisco Dreams is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZSC6UK

and Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/58233

Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers. Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com

Best wishes, Cate, with all your books. It's been a pleasure to have you here for the last four days. 

21 June 2011

Join Cate while she explains why "Contemporary romance rocks!"

Contemporary romance rocks!

What makes a contemporary romance really rock? Rock music of course! *grins* Shakespeare said it: if music be the food of love, play on. And rock music’s always been the soundtrack to my formative years and beyond, so it seemed a perfect setting for a romance story.

I’m so excited that Rock Bottom released June 20 from Lyrical Press: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=81&products_id=405
Lyrical Press is discounting new releases 30%, so I wanted to mention it's a great time to get a copy. :)

This was one of those stories that almost wrote itself, and I only took dictation. Okay, so it wasn’t quite that easy! But the characters were so vivid, I only needed to explore their lives and tell their story (and then revise revise revise, lol). But this hero and heroine made it such fun, I didn’t mind a bit.

Here’s the blurb:
For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits over and over. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet’s reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog’s success keeps her trapped there. Her life’s at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet’s new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was 15. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

And the trailer:

And an excerpt:
The cottage appeared tiny from the outside, but actually had two stories if the bedroom loft counted. A boomerang-shaped overstuffed sofa dominated the main floor, and cabinets topped with bookshelves lined either wall. In a small nook sat a ceramic-topped iron bistro table and two chairs.

As cozy as a beach getaway.

She swung her carryon bag atop the tufted ottoman. Turning to retrieve her suitcases, she stopped short.

Jet leaned against the doorway. If his presence had been palpable in the house, he overwhelmed this small space.

His lopsided smile appeared almost shy. “Need any help settling in?”

The personal touch. If he hoped to make it literal, he could forget it. Despite her resolve, she found him overwhelmingly distracting. She had trouble recalling what she’d planned to do.

Glancing around, she thought she’d be pretty pathetic if she claimed to need help. “Nope, I think I can find everything.”

Stepping inside, he closed the door and moved toward her slowly. Purposefully.

Her pulse quickening, she tensed, but couldn’t find her voice to ask what he wanted.

He touched the cabinet. “There’s a small fridge under here. I’ll have Cindy stock it for you.”

Nodding, she tucked her hair behind her ear. “Great. Thanks.” She felt sure he must hear her heart pounding. And think her an idiot. “It’s an adorable little place. You’re saving the magazine a bundle by letting me stay here.”

When he moved closer, his crystal blue eyes felt like a laser piercing her own.

To clear her head, she turned away. “It’s situated perfectly too. Right next to the house.” Could she possibly sound any more brainless?

She sensed him directly behind her. His soft tone made her muscles go fluid. Her eyes drifted shut, imagining his famous voice singing to her alone.

“If you look out your bedroom window, you can see into mine. Right over there.” His arm lifted beside her and pointed.

His warmth penetrated her skin. He smelled like ocean and musk. An impulse struck her to guide his arm around her, fit herself against him. Fill her senses with him.

Snapping to reality, she fumed at his flirting, but made her voice sweet as honey. “Oh, over there? I appreciate you telling me.” Smiling, she turned. “I’ll be sure to keep my curtains closed.”

Tensing, he straightened, and his nostrils flared.

Her muscles drew taut in response. You shouldn’t have made him mad--not the first day.

But his eyes crinkled at the corners, and he cocked his jaw and nodded. “Billie Prescott.” He said her name with a kind of wonder.

Not quite knowing what to make of it, she gave a giddy laugh. And wanted to die. “Jet Trently. We finally meet.” As though she’d been waiting. Or it had been prearranged. By whom? The universe?

To recover her composure, she went to her bag and pulled out her laptop. “Any internet connection in here?”

He flopped onto the sofa and extended his arms across the back. “Wireless, pretty much from everywhere.” With a kind of amused curiosity, he watched her. “We need to talk.”

Her mind blanked. The way he spoke sounded so intimate, as if he wanted to discuss their relationship. His gaze seared into her, and she had trouble remembering they had no relationship. “About what?”

His mouth curled into a smile. “The show. Don’t you want to interview me?”

She felt her face flush. He played a cat and mouse game. And he’d trapped her already.

Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, on Facebook, Goodreads and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers! Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com

20 June 2011

Cate Masters explains why "Every woman is a goddess!"

Every woman is a goddess!

At least, every woman should be treated like one! That’s the premise of my new series, The Goddess Connection. In each book, the heroine will be somehow connected to a goddess. Her lifelong quirks will become strengths once she finds her true place in the world, and accepts herself for who she really is. Something every woman should do!

The first novel to kick off this series is The Magic of Lavender, available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Lavender-Goddess-Connection-ebook/dp/B005237580/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306147122&sr=1-1

and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61378

In The Magic of Lavender, the heroine Jocelyn Gibson doesn’t become aware of her family ties to the realm of magic, or to the Goddess Iris, until she buys an old bed and breakfast. All she wants is a quiet life, preparing special dishes made with lavender, but before she can have it, she has to first deal with a few demons and goddesses. How could she know the inn sat atop powerful ley lines that would cause a battle to erupt between the forces of dark and light?

Here’s the trailer:

Jocelyn Gibson forgot about the realm of magic. But it never forgot her. Gram always told her: don’t ignore your magical gifts, it will insult the family. But Joss didn’t realize her gifts included channeling the energy of powerful ley lines. Or that her family included a goddess. Family connections come in handy when the Lord of the Underworld kidnaps local vet Eric Hendricks. He’s an amazing lover, but Joss didn’t know she loved him until too late. With a little help from the Goddess Iris, Joss defends the new life she’s forged, and helps save the town of Boiling Springs from destruction. Once Eric escapes Hell, can she stop loving him to keep him safe?

Feeling useless, he poked at the logs in the fireplace. The flames leapt higher, and he crouched to stare into the fire. He should be used to it by now—the fact that everyone had a family to share the holidays with. Everyone but him. And Joss. His awareness of her heightened to a sharp keenness. He tried to dredge up a memory of Karen, but the vivid image of Joss in the kitchen blotted it out. He shouldn’t just sit here. He should go home. But then Joss would be left to finish up all alone.

As if in a dream, he moved to the kitchen doorway. “Need any help?”

Dishes and food warmers crowded the counters. She glanced over and flashed a humorless smile. “No, I’m fine.”

Then why didn’t she sound fine? She sounded upset. He moved closer, needing to do something, anything, to erase whatever pained her.

She fumbled containers into the fridge. “Why don’t you go relax? You’re welcome to put on a new CD, maybe sit by the fire. Before you go home.”

He didn’t want to do any of those things. He stood dangerously close, fighting the urge to touch her hair, run his hands down her back.

With wide eyes, she averted her gaze, her body tense as she moved to the sink, picked up the towel and dried a glass. “It’s supposed to dip into the twenties tonight, so if you need to get going now, then—”

He slipped the towel from her hand. “I live three minutes from here.”

"Right.” She slid her gaze away, but turned toward him, opening to him. To the possibility of him. “But the snow…”

Only inches away, the heat from her body zapped the slate of his mind clean. He operated on impulse. On need.

In a breathless rush, she asked, “Did you enjoy your meal?”

“Mm hm.” Every course of the meal brought his taste buds to life as never before. His senses still vividly alive, he traced her collar bone with one finger.

“Eric…” She inclined her head toward his hand.

The motion, slight as it was, made his pulse race. Hearing her murmur his name ignited his senses. His heart revved in his chest like a race car engine ready to explode from the startling line. “Don’t send me away. Please.” He touched his lips to her forehead, then her nose.

Her breath smelled of coffee and cranberries, and something more enticing—herself. “You’re making it difficult to, but…”

His mouth hovered near hers, just out of reach. “Don’t say no,” he whispered.

The honey gold of her hair caught the light, and she appeared illuminated from within. Parting her lips enticingly, she searched his face.

It wasn’t a no. It was enough of a maybe that he closed the space between them. The feel of her soft lips and sweet-tasting tongue moving against his made him shudder with tantalizing release.

You can find more info at: http://catemasters.blogspot.com/2009/05/magic-of-lavender-contemporary.html

Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers. Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com

19 June 2011

Cate Masters talks about "A little wrong can make it right"

It is my pleasure to welcome Cate Maters to THoR for the next four days.

A little wrong can make it right
Did you ever love someone despite everyone’s warnings and objections that “s/he’s all wrong for you!” I did. In fact, I married him! And this November, we’ll celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. *grins*
Maybe that’s what inspired me to write Just the Right Amount of Wrong. I had been working on this story, off and on, for several years, and finally hit the right combination. The title came to me in a flash, and then I reassembled the story to fit in various elements – a Latino hero, an interesting story about an agricultural experiment in a small North Carolina town.

And so, Just the Right Amount of Wrong came together, hopefully in the right way, lol. It’s steamier than what I usually write – these two knew exactly what they wanted, and that was each other!

Here’s the blurb:
All wrong? That’s what Sara Mullaney’s parents always said about Ravelo Pena. She’s starting to believe it. After dumping her years ago, he’s back in town. And threatening to ruin her business plan designed to help local farmers. When he’s fired for trying to help her, she realizes he’s still the same old Rav. And she’s finding it hard to keep her hands off him. Can the right amount of wrong make the perfect combination?

And an excerpt:
He steered onto a gravel road that climbed a long hill. A blacktop driveway stretched toward a secluded A-frame log home. It could hardly be called a cabin. Its tall windows reached several stories high. A generous deck wrapped around it, with an opening for the stairs leading from the parking area. Sunlight poured through gaps in the clouds and through the branches of towering evergreens surrounding the house.

She felt her mouth gaping, and snapped it shut. “You live here?” His job must pay better than I thought.

“Yep, for now. Me and Frodo.”

“Your roommate’s a hobbit?” she deadpanned.

He pulled the keys from the ignition. “A cat, actually.”

Assessing the stairs ahead, she frowned. “But there are too many steps. You should have just taken me home.”

“You need to stay off that foot. Keep it propped up. You need me,” he said softly, “to take care of you.”

Right. Because he had a sudden protective urge? Probably brought on by his business proposition.

His smug smile as he climbed out irked her, but she couldn’t fault him for her injury. The blame lay squarely on herself. She’d always made an idiot out of herself around him. So focused on him, she couldn’t see where she was going. Just like today.

and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59805

You can see the Casting Call (who I envisioned in these roles, a very fun blog series I started), and read the first chapter on my blog. http://catemasters.blogspot.com/2009/05/just-right-amount-of-wrong-contemporary.html

Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers. Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com

16 June 2011

What is your favourite author quote and why?

Thursday ~ 16th June 2011

This week affiliate author, Amy Romine, asks the question - "What is your favourite author quote and why?"

This is a great question, Amy, and here are a few of my favourites :-

Nora Roberts
"Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice."

Oscar Hammerstein
"All the sounds of the earth are like music."

Oscar Wilde
"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
Groucho Marx 
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. "

Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.

Charles Dickens
Minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled, ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort.

11 June 2011

Toni rounds up her visit talking about...

Write What You Know

As a retired accountant, I can assure you there's nothing you can fictionalize about accounting, nothing romantic, nothing suspenseful unless the bank account refuses to balance, and nothing mysterious that isn't illegal, so when I first started writing, I looked elsewhere for ideas. Old houses, new houses, spooky houses all became settings for my novels, and my characters are all composites of people I've known.

Then one day I saw a young man crossing the street in the rain. He reminded me of the temp I once interviewed and hired to relieve me of timecard duties while I worked year end close. His sparkling eyes set the hearts of even the happily married women aflutter. He was polite, efficient, and knew his job. Next thing I knew, the temp found his way onto the pages of my WIP, and my novel Temp to Permanent was born.

Carina Carrinton's advertising agency reflects her good taste, and like all successful businesses, she has the latest electronic equipment needed to get the job done. Carina just isn't expecting the temp agency to send her a man with no apparent skills to replace her ailing secretary during the busiest week of her career.

Greg Lawless soon proves to Carina he knows his way around an office. Any office. So why does he refuse to boast about his skill? And clam up about his past?

I had a plethora of workday experiences to draw from, knew all the petty games employees pay, knew how a wave of illness could bring the accounting department to its knees and how to reconcile and replenish the petty cash, but when I began to plan the scenes needed to force Greg into Carina's arms, he refused to go.

Much as he'd like nothing better, Greg's firm adherence to proper office conduct prevents him from making moves on his boss, so I had to find a way to cool Carina's rampant longing for him. I created a business arena conducive to office sabotage and gave her cause to distrust him. The settings they visit outside the office -- Old Town, Anthony's and Tom Ham's Lighthouse restaurants -- are favorite hangouts of mine. I often see the bridge over to Coronado in my dreams. And Greg's old Volvo? We're on our fifth Volvo, and the one I drive is older than his.

A friend of ours detailed food for a baker of Oriental cookies, so the details that went into Carina's proposal for B&B were all things our friend had urged his employer to do, like letting other bakers use their cookie machine to avoid down time.

Like Greg, a daughter's ex saved enough to put himself through law school by working in the oil fields off Texas' shore. It's fun to put people I've known in my novels. It's the next best things to visiting with them again.

Only Carina and Larry are products of my imagination. She's one classy lady, the kind of woman we'd all like to be. And Larry? Sorry, he's a slime.

Here's a link to the Desert Breeze website, where Temp to Permanent is available for download.


Thank you Toni for your invaluable advice these past few days.  Best wishes with your books.

10 June 2011

Toni talks about submissions today

Wait. Wait. Don't Submit.

Not yet, anyway. You have a few more things to do before you drop your manuscript in the mail or attach it to an email to a publisher.

You do want to submit a clean manuscript to an editor, don't you? A manuscript free of typos and mistakes?

Then slow down. Even the most careful writer's eyes play tricks. Give your manuscript another look.

Authors see what we think we wrote instead of what is really on the page. A Beta reader is priceless In these days of less editorial help and more dependence on the author to get it right. Pay him or her well. If a friend is your reader, send candy. Often.

What has a Beta reader done for me?

• Caught the time I gave the heroine three hands.

• Caught repetitive phrases.

• Caught the hero about to walk through a locked door.

• Caught when my heroine's eye color changed from blue to brown.

• Caught the heroine hiding behind the sofa where I'd carelessly left her.

Okay, perhaps you're a more experienced writer and would never do any of these things. Ever typed its when you meant it is? Ever get confused about whether you want to type pen and pin? Can't remember whether to type sit, sat, or set? Every author has words they stumble over. Some of mine are lose or loose? Aught or ought? Further or farther? There or their? Then or than?

Seems then or than is a tough choice for some authors. While recently judging contest submissions I continually encountered the incorrect use of then and than. Use than when making a comparison. Example: This looks more like a burn than a bruise.

Never use then when comparing things. Another example: I'd rather go than stay.

The copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White I keep by my computer reads, "Here logic supports established usage: one thing differs from another."

Do not use than to make comparisons, even though other writers seemed determined to do so. They are wrong. Here's a common mistake: Using different than when the writer should have used different from.

Someone not emotionally involved with your manuscript is more likely to catch the use of the wrong word. I recently saw where the writer wrote patients instead of patience, completely changing the meaning of the sentence.

Your fingers do not always type what you intended for them to type. My mother always insisted two heads were better than on. Where your writing is concerned, several pairs of eyes do the most good. Have a critique partner go through your entire manuscript looking for word choices, missing quotes and typos. Ask a third person to do the same thing. You of course were the first person, and you will also be the last, for on your shoulders falls the ultimate responsibility of seeing that you got everything right.

A Beta reader soon learns if you're prone to type our instead of out, and should point out where you've used the wrong verb tense and are guilty of point of view shifts. It's so easy to slip into someone else's head and so hard to spot those slips. A trusted reader should question the use of any word she doesn't understand. Make it her job.

Never ever rush a manuscript to print. Writers get careless, especially through the second half of the book. If you're pushed for time, edit the second half of your novel first. You'll be glad you did.

Now that Desert Breeze Publishing has released Law Breakers and Love Makers, and Temp to Permanent, another romantic suspense, will be released on June 1, I'm hard at work editing my next release, Decisive Moments, a dark romance due out in time for Halloween.

Here's a link: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-113/Toni-Noel-Law-Breakers/Detail.bok

And a link to Law Breakers and Love Makers' five hearts review:

Congratulations on the 'fab' review :-0