Or at least this should be my ideal summer day…
This is a picture I took! Enjoy the puzzle!
Or at least this should be my ideal summer day…
When I’m stressed out, the family knows exactly what helps me find a little sanity—a treasure hunt!
Yes, my dd took me to the thrift store again. I’ve been working on two sets of edits that are both due tomorrow. My eyeballs are bloodshot, and I tend to stare into space when I’m in the middle of conversations. Those two clues gave away my sorry state. My dd dragged me out the door. Really, she had to.
Which means, I also can’t spare the brain matter to think of a lively topic for today’s blog, so I told my dd to snap a pic of my finds…
My daughter looked dubious when I had her try to arrange them all into something presentable. She doesn’t get it. Maybe you will.
Let’s move in a circular pattern, clockwise from the upper left corner. The orange box is a treasure trove of out-of-date road maps! She shook her head. “Who needs maps, mom? We have apps.” Huh. I know that. However, maps are very useful in mixed media art. I can make paper beads, decoupage, use them for collaging, etc. She had the nerve to roll her eyes after I finished my defense of the map box.
See that thing in the background that reads “pony beads”? Well, it’s a large plastic bag crammed with art supplies, from foam glue sticks to paint sticks, to sequins, pom-poms, pony beads, ribbon, and on and on. I bugged my eyeballs at her. “You have kids underfoot all summer. Don’t you think some arts and craft activities will be helpful? Now, you don’t have to raid my stash!”
Two sewing patterns. Yes, I know. I can only sew straight lines. The patterns aren’t to help me sew a dang thing. I want them for some mixed media art and collaging. No boos and hisses from all you sewing-persons out there.
The packs of scrapbook papers and paper doilies? Self-explanatory, I think. Mixed media and Gelli prints. Duh.
The blue doily? My mom loves doilies, and I’m just not that wonderful a daughter to want to crochet one for her…
Lastly, the To Do pad. Because I had to have it. It’s paper. It says “To Do”. Nuff said.
My dd and I flew down to New Orleans for a couple of days. Why? Because we needed our NOLA fix! It’s a 7-hour drive, but we did it in two days anyway. It’s all the window of time we had. We took the 15-year-old and the 5-year-old with us. Both are great travelers, and we had a blast!
We stayed in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel—in Room 644—which is haunted! The 15-year-old had an “experience”, but that’s her story to tell. She’s always been surrounded by weirdness like that. Usually, she never notices, but we see it around her—this time… Well, she was a little freaked out…
This is a pic inside our room. My hair!!!! My dd set the rules. No makeup. No hair products. This is what a few hours of intense humidity does to my hair! Had to “dress it up” with Snap Chat!
Scary, right?! 🙂
Most of the trip was about doing our favorite things—eating, shopping, hitting the voodoo stores—get readings in Jackson Square. Here’s the 15-year-old getting her very first.
She also got to roam Bourbon with her mom at night! She loved it! Says she wants to live there someday. She’s soooo my grandaughter!
And did I mention shopping? That was the 5-year-old’s greatest joy. She loved her “mud-bug” beaded necklace, and we had to get her a mask!
Had to say no to the hat, but boy did she look cute!
Now, back to our haunted room…
If you Google Room 644, you’ll find plenty of mentions. James Franco stayed there. Paranormal investigators, too. The hotel was a orphanage run by nuns in its past, and one of the nuns jumped out of this dormer window…
I woke up middle of the night and took some shots with my “ghost camera”. I usually get tons of human shadows and ghostly orbs, and I got some orbs in this room, but he strangest thing was this red pinpoint of glowing light that kept moving across my viewfinder. I can see it when I blow it up on my screen, but trying to show it to you on my grainy blog is another thing. Maybe you can make it out midway down the window here, on the left side panel between the 6th and 7th slats…
It looks like just a tiny spot here, but I stood in the same place and took photos of the window, not moving the camera, and that glowing spot moved left to right. Best I could do, folks. 🙁 The pics aren’t as cool as the ones I’ve taken in the Crescent in Eureka Springs. If you want to check out my ghost photos from there, click on these links: Road Trip — Haunting at the Crescent Inn Hotel, Ghostly Orbs in the Crescent.
UPDATE: The winner is…Tamara!
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Bad Moon Rising
On a whim, romance author DiDi Devereaux decides to travel to remote Louisiana bayou country to take possession of a house she inherited from a reclusive relative. But before she reaches her destination, she drives her car into a ditch to avoid a large animal that leaps into her path. Rescue comes in the form of a sexy sheriff, whose gruff demeanor seems to hide a feral attraction. As DiDi settles into her new home she finds herself torn between her attraction to the sheriff and the raw, handsome bad boy whose offer to help her renovate her home is a little too convenient and tempting.
Nothing in Bayou Noir is what it seems. When strange things begin to happen, her natural curiosity leads her into danger…
Read an excerpt…
DiDi hit SAVE and shut down her computer. Her newest story was beginning to pull together—or at least, the characters were coming alive. The external plot of her novel hadn’t yet gelled, because she hadn’t discovered what secrets the sheriff and the bad boy hid.
But the characters were now fully fleshed—the two men appealing to her heroine in ways DiDi understood all too well. The question she still struggled with was which man her heroine would ultimately choose. The thought made her smile.
DiDi closed the computer lid. Of course, Sheriff Breaux and Bobby Sonnier were the models for her two heroes. All the while she’d described her heroine’s first meeting with the men, she’d described her own feelings, and how her curiosity and body had both been aroused. Which man did she, DiDi, prefer? Funny, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d thought a man so disturbingly attractive. But in this remote location, within a single hour, she’d met two.
She stretched her arms above her head and glanced at her watch—two o’clock AM. Since she was a night owl by habit, she didn’t worry. However, the room was warm. The AC chugged along, but didn’t seem to cool very well. Upon returning to the room, she’d changed to cutoffs and a tank top, but the fabric stuck to her skin. Maybe drinking something ice-cold would cool her enough to rest comfortably. She slipped the pass key into her back pocket, tucked a couple of dollar bills into the front one, and let herself out of her room.
Outside, she breathed in the thick, humid air. The night was quiet except for the distant, blended hum of insects and frogs. Maybe it was the cloying heat, but she felt restless and aroused. Her thoughts swirled with the erotic fantasies she’d been spinning into a story.
A woman caught between two men.
On the outside, one wore a white hat, the other dressed like he’d just dragged himself out of bed. But inside, both souls were painted with the same darkness.
The soda machine stood next to the office, so she walked barefoot along the sidewalk, slid her money into the slot, and hit the button for a Coke. The machine shuddered, but nothing dropped into the well at the bottom.
“Damn.” She hit the button again. Nothing. Cursing, she bent and stuck her arm up into the opening, found the bottom of her can lodged at an odd angle, and rattled it until it dropped into her hand.
When she straightened, she held the can away and opened the tab, letting it spray outward.
The can was icy cold, and she drank down several gulps before turning back to her room.
DiDi drew up short. A car had parked in front of her room. A sleek Caprice with the township’s emblem and blue lights on the top. Sheriff Breaux stood with his arms crossed over his chest, watching her.
Had he seen her wrestle with the coke, her butt in the air? Would she ever catch a break with the guy?
DiDi made herself straighten her shoulders and sauntered toward the large man. Did he always wear that expression—so dark and intense, so watchful? She caught the way his narrowed glance scanned her bare legs and feet, and she shivered.
She’d take his frown over a smile from another man any day—the gesture did things to her. Challenged her. Made her tingle in all the right places. “Evenin’, Sheriff,” she drawled, walking closer.
“Miz Devereaux,” he said, nodding.
“DiDi,” she replied, curving her lips. “I thought we were getting friendly.”
His expression didn’t soften. “It’s late. Doesn’t a city girl like you know it’s not safe to be alone outside after dark?”
“Tell me,” she said softly, teasingly as she leaned against her room’s door. “This is a small town. What should I fear? And is the danger sporting four legs or two?”
His features stilled. He stepped closer and looked down his nose.
A move like he was trying to intimidate. She didn’t know why, but his stance aroused her.
“Bayou Noir is a quiet town,” he said, his voice dead even, “but you’re a beautiful woman. More temptation than man or beast might be able to resist.”
DiDi blinked, all bluster gone. Heat soaked the crotch of her panties. He thinks I’m hard to resist? “Looks like I don’t have a thing to fear with you here, Sheriff.”
His lips crimped in irritation, and he shook his head. “Told you before, Mason,” he bit out. “Seein’ as how we’re friendly now.”
Two could play this game of chicken. She stepped close enough she could smell him. “What if I like sheriff? I like a man being in charge.”
His nostrils flared. His eyelids fell. “Careful, chère…”
“Am I really that hard to resist?” DiDi lifted her chin.
He didn’t answer, but his gaze fell to her mouth.
DiDi knew she’d roll her eyes if a character in her book licked her lips at a time like this, but she couldn’t resist the tease. She stroked her bottom lip, wetting it and watching Mason’s eyes narrow further, homing in on the simple little motion.
“You like playin’ with fire?” he muttered, his voice guttural.
“I’m not playin’.”
His eyes were shadowed, a touch sinister and frightening.
She couldn’t have said why, but she wanted to rattle him. Answer his challenge with one of her own. DiDi leaned into Mason, pressing the hand not holding the soda against his chest and rising on her toes. When her mouth approached, she saw his lips part.
But he held still, watching her with that dark, steady gaze.
She placed her lips against his and rubbed, and then did it again when he still didn’t move. Pulling back, she gave him a slight glare. His expression hadn’t changed, but that didn’t defeat her. No way could she be this hot if he wasn’t returning some of the heat.
Plus, he hadn’t warned her away with a word or a gesture, hadn’t moved back either. Not exactly a no.
Angling a hand backwards, she set the soda on the windowsill and reached up to clutch his shoulders, pushed her chest against his, snuggling closer, and kissed him again.
His hands curled gently around her waist.
Her heart sped up, her body melted. She pressed her lips harder.
However, Mason pushed her away…but his fingers didn’t let her go.
Rather than reach for him again, DiDi curved her fingers into her palms. She’d never thrown herself at a man like that, without an ounce of encouragement. Feeling like a fool, she pushed at his hands. “Don’t worry,” she said, unable to hold his steady stare now that she’d humiliated herself. “I promise I won’t attack you again.”
“What?” she snapped, lifting her face, hoping to salvage her pride.
“Dammit.” His lips slammed on top of hers. His hands let go of her waist and glided around her back, pulling her against him. And then he was walking her backward, pushing her against her door while he devoured her mouth.
DiDi thought she’d been ready for his kiss. Ready for whatever he’d bring, but under the onslaught, her head swam, her knees weakened. She locked her fingers behind his neck.
Scents intensified—the smell of thick, green forest, the exhaust of his car, his aftershave, the unique smell of his masculine musk.
Sounds—an indistinct hum before—returned, becoming louder. Crickets chirped, frogs croaked. The wind sifted through the trees, rustling leaves and creaking branches. And his heartbeat grew loud enough, insistent enough, her own matched its beat.
And God, the lush, wet thrill of that kiss! His mouth was hard, his tongue sinfully fluid, sliding along hers then tangling and twisting until she had to suck on it to keep him still and savor the sensual connection.
DiDi felt as though she drowned in a perfect moment, falling deeply into lust, her body shivering and bending toward him.
Mason broke the kiss. His gaze raked her face; his jaw tightened. “Better get inside an’ lock that door, chère.”
“And if I don’t want to?” she asked breathlessly, looking deep into his dark eyes.
“Gimme your key.”
Relief made her knees shake. He’s coming inside. She dug into her pocket for the key card and handed it over. He swiped the key and pulled down the latch next to her hip. Then he tossed the key toward the bed behind her and grasped her waist.
DiDi began to reach up to enfold him in her arms—
Scowling, Mason pushed her backward and closed the door in her face.
“Fuck,” she whispered. That had never happened before.
I’m often asked where I get my story ideas. Sometimes it’s a character that pops into my head with a story to tell. Other times a scene plays out in my imagination and I need to write the book to see what happens next.
For my newest book, Love Proof, (releasing June 26, 2019, available now for pre-order) I’d heard about a new series my publisher was launching — a small-town romance (any sub-genre) centred on a historic bed & breakfast in Vermont. Ideas for characters and plots ping-ponged immediately — a bookstore owner? A waitress in a café? A missing husband?
I read the series bible (established characters, occupations, and businesses, along with a map of the town, as well the synopses of the already contracted stories) and noticed a gaping hole. Where was the bakery? Zounds! Every town needs a bakery!
Since I’m a home baker who bakes to relax (and maybe procrastinate <grin>) my heroine had to be a baker with her own shop. I didn’t want her getting up at 2am in order to have breads and rolls ready by opening time. That would be problematic for romantic sleepovers. So, Fiona specializes in cupcakes and bar cookies. As we all know, a cupcake is sad without sprinkles and the name of the bakery became Love Sprinkles.
I think it would be unfair, perhaps cruel, to fill a book with descriptions of yummy treats without giving readers the chance to sample the treats, and I included a couple tried and true recipes I’ve been baking for years.
Location and occupation were the easy parts of story development. Discovering the hero and heroine’s internal struggles — what will draw them together and what will keep them apart — required more work.
I determined that they had known each other in high school (they are now in the mid-30’s) and I set the cause of their conflict back in their angst-riddled teen years. So much fun! I was not one of the popular kids and could relate with Fiona’s less-than-fond memories of not fitting in.
I’m sure we all remember that one guy in high school — captain of a sports team, class president, talented musician — on whom all the girls had a crush. That was my hero. Except Raynor has a secret — he’s lousy at relationships, and has declared a moratorium on dating.
Until he walks into Love Sprinkles and sees that the girl from high school is all grown up.
Unemployed photojournalist Raynor Elliot stops at a bakery near the famous Deerbourne Inn. Not only does he get a lead on a job but the bakery’s owner is that awkward kid he knew in high school, only now she has fabulous curves and an irreverent sense of humor. The cozy bakery, with its aroma of sugar, vanilla and spice, has more to offer than tasty cookies.
Fiona MacLeod has been plagued for years by the need to make amends for telling The Big Lie. When the lie’s victim strolls into her bakery with his icy blue stare and killer charm, she feels like she’s standing too close to a hot oven.
Between running her bakery and frosting cupcakes for the Mad River Garden Party, she’s pretty sure she’s falling in love with this infuriating, sexy man. Can Fiona dredge up the courage to confess, face the consequences, and hope for forgiveness?
“I remember those days.” She pushed the calculator to the side, too tired to worry about planning the week’s baking schedule. “Why’d you study journalism?
“Truth is important to me. I was tired of all the lies in government, at every level. I wanted to change that. Ultimately make the world a better place. Easy peasy, right?” His lips quirked and he shook his head.
“That’s why I decided to be a baker. Brighten someone’s day with a special treat.”
He scooted his chair closer and pointed at the column of numbers on the page. “You want me to do the rest?” His arm, bare to the bicep, lightly tanned, dusted with blond hair, a little lighter than on his head, rested less than an inch from her own spindly pale arm. Not spindly compared to other women, hefting bags of flour and moving trays of baked goods did take some muscle power. But spindly compared to his manly toned muscles flexing under skin that she’d bet her last jar of sprinkles was smooth and warm. She clenched her hand.
No touching allowed.
“We have cupcakes to frost.” She bounded from the chair and rushed into the kitchen.
Holy moly, the guy oozed sex. In a good way. A very good way. She pulled a clean apron off the shelf and cinched it around her waist. An extra layer of armor between her and temptation in the form of Raynor. The seeker of truth. The man whose mission in life was to expose lies. The reporter who thought liars were not decent human beings.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Proof-Deerbourne-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07S2SBP4V
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Love-Proof-Deerbourne-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07S2SBP4V
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Love+Proof+Luanna&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Love-Proof-Deerbourne-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07S2SBP4V
About Luanna Stewart
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. At the tender age of twelve she discovered her grandmother’s stash of romance novels, after which all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.
Luanna spends her days writing sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance. When she’s not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s either in her kitchen baking something delicious, or protecting her garden from the chickens. She lives in Nova Scotia with her incredibly patient husband and two spoiled cats.
Social media links:
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/luanna_stewart
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Yes, maybe I’m dragging the bottom of the barrel for a quick post,
but let’s have some fun!
This guy sees you sitting at the bar and starts a conversation…
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