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Katherine Eddinger Smits: Mermaids (Contest)
Thursday, February 16th, 2017

UPDATE: The winner is…Diana Tidlund!

* * * * *

I grew up in a magical realm where winter never comes, we find dollars on the seashore, stars in the water and mermaids in warm springs. Yes, of course, that place is Florida. The dollars are shells, the stars are fish and the mermaids are in Weeki Wachee. A state park that started out as a privately-owned tourist attraction in the 1940’s, it features natural springs that remain 74 degrees all year long.

Local kids could take swimming lessons there. Every morning for an enchanted two weeks in the summer, I waited beside Highway 19 for the repurposed school bus that transported me an hour away to Weeki Wachee. I wore my bathing suit underneath my shorts and carried my towel and a little cash for a snack.

When we arrived at the Springs, we entered the section roped off for lessons and set our bags and towels down on the white sand. Shivering, we tiptoed into the chilly water an inch at a time. I will never forget the first day when I put my face in the water and blew bubbles, then mastered floating on my back. By the end of the week, I was dog-paddling and within a summer or two, jumping off the high dive.

Along with my swimming ability, I developed a fascination with mermaids. I watched the Weeki Wachee sirens perform their show countless times over the years and never lost my admiration for their athletic skill and graceful movements. As a teen, I wanted desperately to become one of them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

I practically lived in the water all summer, and I gained a healthy respect for it. Many times, when we played in the Atlantic at New Smyrna or Daytona Beach, powerful waves snatched me and rolled me over and over until they spit me out on the sand, wheezing and sputtering salt water. Every year undertow or rip currents pulled a few people out to sea. Water has power and it can be marvelous or terrifying, or both.

When I decided to write my novel, Water Dreams, I chose mermaids for the primary paranormal feature. I wanted a different take on the myth and so I created the Nerei, a race of shapeshifting mermaids and mermen, whose form on land is indistinguishable from humans. They want one thing above all else: freedom from water. Until they achieve that, they must immerse themselves frequently to restore their bodies.

The heroine of my story is Nik, a young woman from Tarpon Springs, Florida, who is terrified of water. She doesn’t know how or why she fears it so much, but she won’t have anything to do with it, including going near the ocean or pools.

The Nerei contact Nik and tell her they believe she holds the solution to their problem because she shares their DNA and can stay away from water. She doesn’t believe them and refuses to have anything to do with them.

Bas is a young merman tasked with obtaining Nik’s cooperation. He doesn’t like humans much but he is fascinated with Nik. He can’t give up on convincing her to help the Nerei and he wants to keep seeing her. However, his people forbid relationships between their kinds and breaking the law is punishable by death.

Water Dreams is the story of how Nik and Bas bridge the gulf between them. It is also the story of how Nik resolves her water phobia. She experiences dreams about water throughout the book. They start as paralyzing nightmares and progress during the story, becoming less frightening as she grows stronger, giving her hints and clues about how to work out her problems. Eventually, she gains control of the dreams, as she conquers her fear of water and overcomes the dilemmas presented by the Nerei.

Water Dreams

Here is an excerpt from Water Dreams:

She waded in, appreciating the satiny water on her skin, enveloping her naked body from her waist down, a velvety embrace. She looked at the stars glowing above her, and the full moon lighting the sky, making a shining path on the cenote. She listened to the tree branches soughing in the breeze, the Whippoorwills calling. There was a sense of timelessness about the moment that made her feel like a twig in a river. She created a tiny ripple in the stream as it passed along. The cenote and the woods were there long before she arrived, and would endure long after she was gone.

Nik dove into the water, gasping at the cold. She swam several hard strokes until the blood sang in her veins, warming her inside out, then turned over onto her back and floated.

When she heard splashing behind her, Nik gasped, imagining an eerie creature shared the depths of this pond with her. However, Nik saw a familiar shape and realized Bas was swimming with her. He was in his Nerei form. His massive tail slapped the water, arcing radiant drops over Nik’s head and into her face. She spluttered, going under for a minute before surfacing behind him. She didn’t have a tail to splash Bas, but she surprised him, and dashed him with a handful of water to the face. They played for a little while, chasing one another and laughing.

Bas had a huge advantage. Because he swam so much faster, she couldn’t get away from him. Bas caught her, held her close to him, and looked into her eyes. In the moonlight, Nik could see Bas well. He smiled at her. He circled her waist with one arm. He used his other hand to stroke Nik’s hair. Bas’ chest pinned Nik’s naked torso against him and she wrapped her legs around his waist. Both hot and cold swept over her at the same instant, a tsunami of sensations she had never imagined, much less experienced. She feared she might pass out. Bas didn’t say a word, but he lowered his mouth to Nik’s and kissed her, first softly and then hard. Nik kissed him back, her head spinning.

Get your copy here!

Contest

And now for the contest. For a chance to win a $5.00 Amazon gift card, please comment on this blog with something about mermaids. It doesn’t matter what it is, just share. I’ll put the names of everyone who comments in a list and draw one at random. I will announce the winner in a couple of days and will need that person’s email address to send the gift card. It’s just a token to say thank you for reading my blog, but you can get one or two eBooks, if you use it wisely.

About the Author

Katherine started making up stories in grade school and always intended to write novels someday but she put off creating fiction while she raised her family and worked as a clinical social worker at four different Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country. Although devastated to learn that her first career choice—mermaid, was not realistic, Katherine found helping veterans and their families fulfilling. She lives with her husband in Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia. Water Dreams, Katherine’s debut novel, is a paranormal romance set in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is the first book in the Love’s Siren Song series. It is available in print or e-book from Foundations, LLC, Amazon, and other retail sites.

Please visit me at:
Website: http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatherineSmits
Twitter: https://twitter.com/katherinesmits

Sharon Hamilton: Freshening The Palate
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

I’m an author who likes to travel down two or three genres, probably on my way to a fourth where I can perhaps combine them all. Maybe this sounds confusing, but hear me out a bit.

I’ve written 16 Navy SEAL romances and several novellas. But I started off as a paranormal writer and wasn’t sure I could do military romance. I gave it a try and found I could do it, and not only that, I really enjoyed doing it. It became a calling for me, especially since I’m a Blue Star Mom of a former Navy SEAL.

I love those guys and everything they embody. But there are some things that even a Navy SEAL can’t do. He can’t walk through walls or spread some beautiful black wings and soar through the sky. He can’t spread dust and make erotic mixtures that do crazy things to a human body. He doesn’t have to live in the shadows or hide his identity as, say, my vampires or guardians, or my hybrid vampire-turned-guardian-turned-dark-angel Gideon in my last book.

I loved the fantasy of this book, with a cast of characters I’d like to revisit. I have a fun secondary character, the Clockmaker, a sort of toymaker in a macabre Santa’s Workshop somewhere between the Underworld and the human world. He fixes “bots” in a makeshift “hospital” guarded by a mechanical cat named Tabby, a perch of blue mechanical parakeets and a swarm of mechanical gnat bots. He removes wings off guardian angels and uses spare Underworld things like red leathery bat wings to create new Doll warrior bots he creates.

Well, my Gideon needs this strange creature’s help to get to his Happily Ever After. I decided I didn’t want him there 100%, so I’ve called this one Book 1 of the Chronicles of Gideon.

This was a refreshing departure to my Romantic Suspense SEALs. It was like having my desert first. The steak last.

Enjoy a little snippet from the audio book we just finished producing. You’ll hear the character of Manfred, the Clockmaker, through the talented voice of my world-class narrator, JD Hart.

Gideon
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2j391ZP
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2jgGP3p
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2jIjJWO
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2iKoG1P
Amazon FR: http://amzn.to/2jIuwjJ
Amazon DE: http://amzn.to/2kb5z1h
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2iTD1Er
iBooks: http://apple.co/2kbbF1o
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2jVHisx

If you are having trouble downloading the full version of HARD SEAL TO LOVE…
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

My apologies again for the SNAFU. If you pre-ordered the book, but only received the 9-page pre-order shell, you should be able to access the corrected version now! If not, send me a copy of your receipt for purchase to delilah@delilahdevlin.com, and I’ll send you the corrected story! ~DD

MISFIRE! SAFETY BACK ON! HARD SEAL TO LOVE IS HERE!
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Thanks to Regina for letting me know that Amazon updated the contents of my book!

If you saw my earlier quick, frantic post, there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the release of this book. My apologies again for the SNAFU. If you pre-ordered the book, you should be able to access the corrected version now! If not, send me a copy of your receipt for purchase and I’ll send you the corrected story!

Anyways, as you can imagine, my day’s shot. So are my nerves. I so wanted this book to be well-received, right off the bat. My hero’s a lovely, large alpha who gets gobsmacked by a very feisty disabled vet. It’s fast and sexy and I hope you love it!

As a favor to me… I don’t ask often, but this time I do need your help. There are four 1-star reviews sitting out there for the story from folks pretty furious at getting the wrong, empty version of my story. If you have time and the inclination, I’d really, really appreciate you posting a review to help combat those very painful 1-stars. Thanks in advance, and HAPPY READING!

Also, as a side note, you will see Harley play a role in the story. You remember him, right? From the Stepbrothers Stepping Out: With His SEAL Team stories? Sara makes a very brief appearance, too. Thought you’d enjoy seeing them out and about…

Hard SEAL To Love

HardSEALToLove 600

The bigger they are, the harder they fall…

Former SEAL, “Big Mac” McLane, is sure he earned all kinds of bad karma somewhere when his first mission with Charter Group is guarding the “Love Boat” and its activity director. Okay, so the cruise line is sponsoring a special cruise for wounded soldiers and their families–a great cause–but Big Mac doesn’t do well around families and children, and Kylie Hammond is cute, but he feels like he has two left feet whenever she’s around. But he’s going to do his job, keep it strictly business, fade into the background whenever she’s around, but it seems Kylie has other ideas…

Kylie knows the big SEAL isn’t exactly gung-ho for his new assignment, but she can’t be more pleased. The big man’s the yummiest thing she’s ever seen, and coaxing blushes and glares from him becomes her favorite sport. But then things begin to go wrong aboard ship, people disappear, and then someone’s killed. The thing her charity most feared–a terrorist attack at sea–appears to be underway. Now, she has to trust Big Mac and his team to keep her wounded soldiers safe.

Buy your copy here!

KABOOM!
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

That’s the sound of me putting a gun to my head and pulling the effing trigger!

This morning is release day for Hard SEAL to Love. I was so excited. Went to the page on Amazon to see how readers were liking the new story, and found three 1-star reviews. The issue? They were sent the previous placeholder version of the book that was only 9 pages long—not the finalized version I uploaded last week. Dang it, I checked it in the previewer on their site before I finished, just to make sure it looked right, and it was there. All of it!

Of course, now, I’m frantic. I’ve re-uploaded the correct version, but that takes a while for Amazon to change, and I’ve contacted them for help pushing it out again to everyone’s Kindles.

If you purchased the book, and received the short placeholder version, please forward the receipt to me at delilah@delilahdevlin.com. I’ll email you the correct version. I don’t want you to have to wait until Amazon can send it to you.

My apologies for this SNAFU. Shit happens. Usually to me. I’ll make this right, and then I hope you’ll give me glowing reviews, because I really do love this story. :(

For the rest of you, I’ll let you know when it’s fixed before you get your copy!

Hard SEAL to Love

Autumn Jordon: Your First Kiss
Monday, February 13th, 2017

Is there any romantic memory more special than your first kiss?  I think not.  Even Ally McBeal recalled her and Billy’s first, soft smooch over and over and over.  And did Kevin Arnold ever forget Winnie’s kiss? No. Never.

Each time I recall mine, a smile blooms on my lips.

My first kiss happened in my family’s barn. The barn had been in my family for five generations.  It was old and leaned slightly. Closing my eyes, I feel the cool air against my warm skin- the barn is built into the hillside. I can see the wood planks, turned gray from time and wear, just a few feet above my head. Bridles and lead ropes hang from pegs hammered into road milled posts nicked over years. Large rocks make up the foundation walls. My sorrel gelding is in his stall watching me, and dust mites float in the sunlight pouring in the door behind the boy who had chased me inside.

     I can still smell a mixture of summer sun, feed and manure. I hear the munching of hay as the cattle fed and the sound of my horse’s neigh and snort. There is a dip from the nozzle near the shaft to the silo. I also hear the whispered alto voice of the boy with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, as he declared his affection for me. His gorgeous cobalt eyes were magnified behind glasses: dark framed like Clark Kent’s. Eric was my hero and always would be. I’d love him until the end of time.

    My heart thumped against my breast, knowing Eric really liked me while my toes wiggled in my boots as if telling to run because if my dad found out about the kiss that was about to happen he would kill the boy and ground me for a month.  My spine stiffened and my step was defiant as I cut the distance between Eric and myself, committed to take my chances.  Looking up at me, because he was about two inches shorter, Eric’s eyes widened before closing as his lips met mine. For a brief few seconds, we entered an unknown world, a world we knew we’d entered again, in due time.

“Will you go to the movies with me on Saturday night? I can meet you there,” he said in a rush.

I simply nodded, afraid my voice would crack.

Are you smiling, remembering your first taste of love?

Bringing back those emotional filled memories to my readers, is what I love to do.  Carrie and Luke are my heroine and hero in my Valentine’s Day romance, PERFECT HEARTS. They were two teenagers who shared a first kiss and then had a wedge and life driven between. Years later, they find themselves together again. However, this time there are more than one kiss, the kisses are more passionate, and their convictions to each other are strong enough to last forever.

In the comment section below, tell me about your first kiss, or is there a fictional kiss scene you remember?

I hope you will take a peek at PERFECT HEARTS available exclusively on Amazon at the moment, follow me there please, and that you’ll consider joining my newsletter at www.autumnjordon.com where I have monthly contests and offer free short reads from time to time.

I wish you the most romantic of Valentine’s Day adventures.  WINK

~Autumn

 About the Author

Autumn Jordon is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense/thrillers recognized by Romance Writers of America as a Golden Heart Finalist and Golden Leaf Winner. And as Kindle Book Reviewers ‘Best Indie Romance Author’ finalist.  Writing sweet and humorous for her Perfect Love Series and writing steamy and chilling for her U.S. Marshal Undercover suspense novels comes naturally to Autumn. Her characters are unique and realistic. Her stories filled with trouble and love. And yon can keep abreast of the trouble she and her characters create by joining her newsletter at www.autumnjordon.com.

Natasha Moore: Love Can Happen at ANY Age
Sunday, February 12th, 2017

I happen to be what some people refer to as a “woman of a certain age”—maybe that’s supposed to sound better than “middle aged” or “mature”. Certainly sounds better than “old”! But inside I don’t feel much different than I did thirty years ago. And while I like writing romances with characters in their twenties and thirties, right now I’m writing some love stories where the heroines are closer to my own age.

Women in their forties, fifties, and beyond are vibrant, passionate women who need love as much as a twenty-year-old. But there are very few romances with characters over forty. I want to show the romance reading community that love can happen at any age. I’ve been warned not to make my characters too old, however. That no one wants to read about them.

I don’t believe that!

Older women are often treated as though we are invisible. Apparently, we’ve had our time and aren’t interesting anymore. We’re treated as if we have nothing left to offer to society. Almost no one markets to older women. But love can happen at ANY age! And I don’t know about you, but I have more discretionary income to spend on things like, say…books!…than I did when I was in my twenties and raising my children.

Many lovers of romance have been reading them for decades and while they certainly can enjoy and appreciate a romance with characters in the early part of their lives, sometimes it’s fun to slip into the skin of a character more like themselves.

Think Meryl Streep, Rene Russo, Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock or Helen Mirren (I could go on and on!). Vibrant, passionate women, not at all invisible. Women who’ve had wide experiences and histories that lend themselves well to the conflicts inherent in romances. And look at the silver foxes we have for inspiration for our heroes (Mark Harmon, Sam Elliott, George Clooney, Gerard Butler, and Jeffery Dean Morgan – I could go on and on!) Who wouldn’t want to cuddle up with one of them?

Love can happen at any age, and to suggest that it’s not possible, or that older people aren’t worthy of having their love stories told, well, it makes me not only angry, but incredibly sad too.

So, apparently this post on older characters in romance novels has turned into a commentary on ageism. I think it’s an important topic and I encourage you to not only learn more about it, but think about the way we perpetuate it. Here’s an interesting article on ageism to get you started. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amancay-tapia/ageism-or-the-last-accept_b_8186304.html

So even though I’ve been told no one wants to read about older characters, I’m writing a series of “mature romances.”  And I’ve discovered the market for them is out there, in fact, there’s a FB group – Seasoned Romance – that supports, discusses, and advocates for older characters in romances.  Check it out and join if you’re interested in fighting ageism in romance.

And of course, not only older women can love these stories. Readers of all ages who simply want a good romance can enjoy them too. My silver foxes are sexy contractors and volunteer firemen, and believe it or not, people over forty also have…gasp…sex! And they have sex in my series too.

The first two books in my Silver Fox Romance series, CHOOSE ME and RESCUE ME, are available now. The third, LUCKY ME, will be out as part of a multi-author anthology, HOT SILVER NIGHTS, releasing on February 28th.

I hope you’ll want to check out some “seasoned” romances and see what they’re all about. I’m excited to be writing them. I hope you’ll look forward to reading them too.

Remember, love can happen at ANY age!

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Buy link for Choose Me – http://amzn.to/2cNH56I
Mailing list – http://eepurl.com/hnwRk
FB author page – https://www.facebook.com/natashamooreauthor/
FB Seasoned Romance group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/958318970951705/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/natashamoore
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/natashamoore144/