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Thursday, August 28, 2014

When Firefighter Heroes Hold Secrets, and Resisting A Scottish Hunk

Fellow Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada member Victoria Barbour has a new release: 

"Thriving business? Check. 
Sexual exploits with a rockstar? Check. 
Complete independence? Check. 

Elsie Walsh had it all. Or so she thought. Until Scottish hunk Campbell Scott showed up on the doorstep of her bed and breakfast. He’s making it pretty hard for her to stand by her one rule: No sleeping with the guests. She’s denied some of the world’s hottest actors, musicians, and even royals... but how can she keep Cam out of her bed, when he’s invaded her head and her heart? 

Campbell Scott went to the wilds of Newfoundland with one thing on his mind: sketch some birds, and then get back to his playboy lifestyle in London. But one look at his sexy hostess and there’s a whole lot more in the air than sea birds. Rejection isn’t part of his vocabulary, and Cam sets out to not only convince Elsie that he belongs in her bed, but by her side at the Heart’s Ease Inn." -- Victoria Barbour 

~~~                                                                                                                                      ~~~

My cousin and fellow Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada member Julianne MacLean has a new audiobook release:

The Color of a Memory, Book 5 in her Color of Heaven series

"ER nurse Audrey Fitzgerald believed she was married to the perfect man - a heroic firefighter who saved lives, even beyond his own death. But a year after losing him she meets a mysterious woman who has some unexplained connection to her husband....

Soon Audrey discovers that in the weeks leading up to her husband's death, he was keeping secrets, and she wonders if she ever really knew him at all. Compelled to dig into his past and explore memories that define the essence of their relationship, Audrey embarks upon a journey of discovery that will lead her down a new path to the future - a future she never dared to imagine." -- JulianneMacLean.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pop Culture Academy 2

What I Learned from Rom Coms Part 2
by Alison Bruce

Classic movies are the ones that stay with you over time. They have impact on our lives, even if that impact is just to tickle our funny bones remembering certain scenes. I was recently reminded of one of those scenes in one of those movies...

When Harry Met Sally

Remember the part when Sally fakes an orgasm in a diner? There are people who can reference that scene who haven't seen the movie. It's a Rom Com meme now. For those of us who love the extra features on the DVD, I love the fact that the woman at the next table who says "I'll have what she's having" is the director Rob Reiner's mother and that you can actually visit the place where the scene was shot.

You've Got Mail
“Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.”
―Robert A. Heinlein
Of the many lessons I took away from The Notebooks of Lazarus Long by Robert Heinlein, this is has been one of the most useful in my day to day life. You've got Mail is a wonderful illustration of the principle.

Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox are business rivals. Kelly is fighting for the life of her independent book store against the big chain that can undercut her prices and serve coffee at the same time. Meanwhile, as "Shopgirl" she is getting to know the equally anonymous Fox via the internet. He even gives her business advice, not knowing it will be used against him.

It's easy for Kelly to vilify Fox. He's a threat, not only to her business, but to the culture of her neighbourhood. I was rooting for her to win even though I'm as guilty as anyone of looking for cheap books and good coffee. Since killing isn't an option, Fox tries to make friends. The results are emotionally satisfying and very romantic.

Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed You've got Mail, and wrote When Harry Met Sally, also authored several of my other favourite comedies including Sleepless in Seattle and Mixed Nuts -- which Rob Reiner directed. With books you can have favourite authors. With movies, I have favourite writers and directors. Rob Reiner is one of the latter. If I had a book turned into a movie, he's who I'd want to direct it. Him or Jensen Ackles... but that's another story.

Monday, August 25, 2014

She travels back to a dangerous time, but can she save the man she loves?

THROUGH-THE-MISTS-OF-TIME-COVERToday's Sneak Peek is the time travel romance Through the Mists of Time by Teri Barnett. If you like Through the Mists of Time, we know you'll like Teri's other books Pagan Fire and Shadow Dreams
When the town of Pompeii was buried in ashes in 79 AD, not everyone was taken by surprise. At least one person knew what was coming, Valerie Brooks, an involuntary time traveler from Victorian England, but her foreknowledge doesn’t help her. Declared a witch by the townspeople of Pompeii and sold into slavery, she has to find a way to make her master, Christos, believe her so they can escape the town before Vesuvius erupts.

But given the mistrust between them fired by the jealousy of her master’s scheming lover, Valerie finds her influence dwindling as the deadly time approaches. Racing against the impending destruction of Pompeii, she must not only decipher the mystery of her time-shift, but the mystery of love as well.

The last thing Valerie could remember was the violent earthquake. She remembered it shaking the grotto where she had gone for safety. She remembered the ceiling caving in around her. She even vaguely remembered she had been hit on the head, but there was no bump or pain.

But that's all she could remember. How did it come to be, then, that when she woke up, the ceiling was still intact? It didn't make any sense at all to her. And when she climbed down from the structure, the street around it was neat and tidy, not overgrown with vegetation as it had been when she'd started out this morning. The tombs were well tended, with fresh flowers placed in offering to the gods.

As she left the tomb, she became even more confused. And more than a little frightened. There were a few people standing nearby, dressed in flowing robes and togas of cream-colored linen and cotton. They immediately stopped talking when she had emerged and looked at her strangely, making that odd forked symbol with their fingers Signore Fiorelli had shown Reggie and her last night. The group began walking, cutting a wide path around her. When Valerie tried to speak to them, they hurried away. One of them ran ahead of her, shouting in – no, she couldn't believe what she was hearing – was it Latin? She followed them with her eyes as the people hurried toward the city.
She started to take a step, then froze. She stared straight ahead, eyes wide. The city! There it stood, Pompeii, in all its untouched glory. Every column and building was in perfect condition, the paint and stucco finishes well maintained. Even the iron gate was free of rust and looked to have a fresh coat of black paint over the metal. A fountain situated at the fork of the road in front of her flowed with fresh water and several children stood around it, laughing and splashing.

What had happened to the tumbled down ruins she'd been visiting only hours before? Where had they gone? How did they come to be replaced by this living and breathing town? For heaven's sake, was this another dream or had she died when the grotto collapsed and this was to be her eternal punishment? She placed a hand to her head as she felt the ground begin to spin. She took a deep breath and steadied herself. Well, she couldn’t stand here all day. She had to find Papa. He’d know what to do. She reached into the grotto, retrieved her cane, and began to walk.
Valerie re-entered Pompeii through the massive stone columns that flanked the gates as a crowd of people began to gather around her.

"Venefica! Witch!" someone shouted. "Look at the strange dark robes she wears."
"We saw her climb out of the tomb. She was trying to raise the dead!" Somewhere in the mob, a small child began to cry.

"No!" Valerie screamed as a man grabbed her. "I don't understand. I'm not a witch! Stop it, please," she pleaded with him. He kicked her legs out from under her. She fell hard to the ground, gasping for air.

"Did not the senate of Rome counsel that we should turn from the menace of witches and sorcerers? Did they not say we should protect the State from their evil influences and magical spells?" He jabbed at Valerie with his toe before turning to face the crowd. "I say we put her in jail."

Valerie planted her cane firmly on the ground and pulled herself up. What had she done to deserve such treatment? Well, he could talk all he wanted about the senate, but there was absolutely no way she would go to jail. She looked around, hoping to find a way through the crowd. She had to get away and hide for a while, until she could figure out what had really happened to her.

The man turned to face her again. With a sneer, he took a step closer. Valerie held her cane out in front of her and swung it in a wide arc. It came down hard on the man's shoulder and he stumbled backward.
"Obsecro. Please. Let me go."

The man turned on her, his eyes narrowed, and ripped the cane from her grasp. He slammed it down over his thigh, breaking it in half. "Now let's see you do your magic without this." He threw the pieces down hard on the ground.
"What are you doing?" Valerie screamed. She fell to her knees and retrieved the fragments. Accusations flew around her. Struggling to her feet, she put her hands over her ears and began to shake all over. The same images that had disturbed her dreams just last night were materializing before her.

Another man came at her, brandishing shackles before him. Balancing on her good leg, Valerie kicked at him with her other foot. With little effort, he knocked her to the stone paved street. She cried out as a sharp rock ripped through her blouse and gouged her skin. A woman held her head down while the chains were clamped into place around her ankles. "Why are you doing this?" she cried.

The men yanked Valerie to her feet and gave her a little shove. Without a cane, she stumbled, catching her balance just before she fell. Someone laughed and threw a rotten pomegranate at her back, striking her squarely between the shoulders. Valerie spun around, teetering, and the crowd backed away a little. She scanned the dark eyes that bore into her. Everyone was caught up in the moment. There was no aid to be found here.

She looked past them. There was the statue of Dionysus she'd seen only yesterday, but the building next to it was completely intact. My God, how did I come to be in ancient Pompeii? Her head swam as the crowd closed in around her again.

The people circled Valerie as if she were a wild animal. They started moving and she stumbled again. She clutched her stomach. She couldn't catch her breath. Two men grabbed her by the arms just before she hit the ground, forcing her to move along or be trampled. Frantically, she looked about. Was there no one who could help? Mama? Papa? Signore Fiorelli?

That was when she saw him. The man in the window. Why had he seemed so disturbingly familiar to her in this strange and distant place? It was as if she should know him – should know his name, where he lived, how he looked when he slept.

Perhaps it was only because his features were like the patrician busts she'd seen at the museum in London. Straight nose, full lips, heavy lidded eyes. She'd studied and sketched them all several times over until she felt as if she knew each and every person.

He looked down at her now and she saw something in those deep ebony eyes. Was it compassion or simply pity? Would he be the one to help stop this madness she knew would soon consume her? She couldn't tell for certain but only prayed it was so as the crowd pushed her again and he disappeared from her sight.

Like what you've read? You can purchase Through the Mists of Time by Teri Barnett, right here. or you can purchase it on amazon.
Connect with Teri online via facebook and twitter, and check out her web site.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is Totally Making My Summer

Yes, I have heard that there are those who find some sort of fault with this viral fundraising campaign.

What is the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, you may ask?

First of all, let's go back to the fund raising part of this whole social phenomenon. Each participant who takes up the challenge is now expected to make a monetary donation to ALS research, as well as dowsing themselves in ice cold water, including visible ice.

Those passing on the challenge, once named, are expected to donate $100.00.

Apparently, nearly $23,000,000 dollars has been raised during the past few weeks as the challenge went viral across social media. This includes over 450,000 new donors, according to Victoria Taylor writing for the New York Daily News.

Though often called Lou Gehrig's disease after the 1920s and 30s baseball star, most people today would associate ALS with theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose perfectly-performing mind is in complete contrast with his paralyzed physical body.

The spotlight now showing on this condition can only help all of us with the advances in scientific and medical knowledge that will come as a direct result. The trickle-down theory of charitable donations, if you will.

The other complaint about the Ice Bucket Challenge is that people are only really doing it for the dare part. I guess the participants are having too much fun as they go through a little mini-ordeal, challenge other people to join them and then everyone donate? Is social activism supposed to be the territory of earnest hippie people, or can't regular folks also do something altruistic?

You may point out that many of the participants aren't regular people at all but celebrities. You may cynically feel that taking up the Ice Bucket Challenge is a form of personal promotion for all of the shivering actors, musicians, sports figures, writers, filmmakers and politicians.

This is how I feel about it:

Social media turns every regular Joe into a celebrity, and every celebrity into a regular Joe.

The Ice Bucket Challenge shows everyone in their backyard, driveway, on their deck, on their steps, in their bathtub -- anywhere that can become a splash zone. Everyone goes through the same process: while being videotaped, the participant accepts the challenge, either fills his or her bucket with ice themselves or waits to have the water dumped upon them, gets dowsed, then challenges a few other people to take part.

To me, this phenomenon is a great leveller, showing that Thor actor Chris Hemsworth is just as susceptible to reacting to freezing cold water as anyone else.

It also shows the impact of crowd funding, where everyone's $10.00 or $20.00 contributions certainly add up, and that you don't have to be Chris Hemsworth with a Hollywood marquee paycheque to make a difference.  

My favorite part of this whole thing? Watching people shriek, gasp, jump up and down, catch their breath and otherwise realize they just made their way to the other side of a not-that-easy challenge.

People like to be tested, and the Ice Bucket Challenge is a great summertime way to do it.

Here are a few of my favorites so far.


Do you have a favorite Ice Bucket Challenge moment?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The muse is happy ...

From the writing desk of Christine Mazurk

I've had problem spots in my current work in progress (WIP). Things that have slowed the story or tripped me up, but I'm excited to say everything has finally clicked into place, and my muse is dancing around like a crazy person. One that doesn't sleep much, because she's kept me up until 2 a.m. the last three nights, fingers flying, the keyboard on fire.

The action is moving, the stakes are high, the big twist is ready to pounce onto the screen. Two characters renamed themselves and I'm happy about that. The athletic journey has morphed within the romantic elements and the outcome is waiting at the finish line.

This book has felt like an Ironman Race to me.

But the finish line is within sight, and I'm taking another deep breath, putting one foot in front of the other - or in this case, one word after the other - to rip through the finishing banner with my hands held high. Then I can say the distance has been covered! Another medal has been earned! My readers will have another story to read!

Getting ready to type "THE END" unleashes all the other story ideas that have been shoved to the back corner of my brain for so many months. Anya Quinlan (the next Mystical book) is battling with Alexandra Chase (a new series). Who will win? Could they both get their story out next year?

The way my muse is flipping off the walls right now, it wouldn't surprise me. So, off I go to continue Passion's Spirit. Mike Dawson has some 'splaining to do ... we need to get to the bottom of his issues.

Until next time, hugs, Christine.
Find Christine on Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads.