Friday, June 29, 2012

American Holidays and Alana Lorens

July 4th is just around the corner, that famous holiday where Americans celebrate the birth of our young nation. And on this weekend before my favorite summer holiday, I have romance author
Alana Lorens who's in the midst of a dual blog tour.


CONVICTION OF THE HEART (release date June 8, 2012)

And SECOND CHANCES (release date June 19, 2012)

The first and Second books of the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer Series!

Come by the following blogs or live booksignings and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing—at the end of the tour, Alana will give away one ebook copy of each book and one paperback copy of each book—Four lucky winners! Check out all the websites at

And now, Alana's going to share some thoughts on another American holiday.

So, take it away, Alana...

Holidays. The thought of a holiday dinner just conjures up pictures of steaming, aromatic dishes of food, happy music, the sounds of voices of all ages, and family. You know, all those family games and shared memories and chestnuts roasting on the open fire? Or maybe it’s more a gathering of nuts, period.

A whole group of family. Yes. What a perfect time to introduce your new “friend’ to a whole bunch of strangers at once! Who would put someone through such torture?

Nick Sansone, a Pittsburgh police lieutenant, is a friendly guy, but when the woman he’s after, attorney Suzanne Taylor, invites him to “meet the parents” at Thanksgiving dinner (at her persistent parent’s insistence), his heart has to stumble a little. But his own mother passed away several years before, and his retired cop father is just as happy with a turkey TV dinner. He’s about out of excuses.

Even worse, Suzanne’s father and two teenaged daughters are avid Steelers fans—and he roots for the Dolphins.

            Nobody’s perfect.

            What holidays have you spent trapped with a loved ones’ family—did it bring you closer or pull you apart?

Alana Lorens' Conviction of the Heart  is available from:


Family law attorney Suzanne Taylor understands her clients’ problems—her own husband left her with two babies to raise alone. Now that they’re teenagers, her life is full. The last thing she wants is the romantic attentions of a police lieutenant, no matter how good-looking. 

Lt. Nick Sansone is juggling the demands of a new promotion, and doesn’t need complications either. But when he sends a councilman’s battered wife to Suzanne for help, he realizes he wants to connect with the lovely, prickly lawyer on more than a professional level. 

They are soon confronted with a different battle, when the abused woman's husband threatens retribution. The powerful, well-connected councilman can damage both their careers—not to mention hurt those they love. Can they bend enough to admit they need each other in a time of crisis? Or will a husband’s revenge take them down before they ever get a chance?


      “He’s nice looking, your lieutenant,” Maureen said, a twinkle in her eye as she poured them both a cup of coffee and set out the cream. “So tall.”
            “Yes, he certainly is.” Suzanne read her mother’s face, seeing only approval. “Just what the fortune teller ordered.” Tall, dark and handsome, wasn’t that the usual lingo?
            “You went to a fortune teller?” Maureen gasped.
            “No, Mom. I didn’t go to a fortune teller.” Suzanne laughed. “I’m teasing you. I told you Nick was a nice guy. He’s very thoughtful. Believe me, he wants to look out for us in every sense of the words. It’s his job, you know.”
            “That’s good.  You know I worry about you, Suzie. I know you’re one of these new liberated women who can take care of yourself and handle everything.” Her dark eyes searched Suzanne’s face, emotion intensifying as she continued. “Last year, when I almost lost your father, I learned that we all need to love and be loved. Facing the prospect of being alone scares me to death. You’re human, too. Your children love you, but not in the way each adult person needs, love, support, understanding. No man is an island—and no woman, either.”
            Silence hung for a few seconds in the kitchen, then Suzanne’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She took it out to look at it. A text message from her client Maddie. “Excuse me a minute, Mom.”
            She selected the message. He’s taken Katie!
            Irritation prickling through her skin, Suzanne apologized with her eyes and stepped into the pantry for some privacy, dialing Maddie’s number. When she answered, Suzanne said, “When did he take her?”
            “She must have slipped out this morning. I thought she was studying in her room, but she’s gone.”         Maddie’s voice cracked with the effort of holding back tears.
            “Did you call the police?”
            “Not yet. I called you first. I don’t believe he’s doing this! He knows the children are the only thing I care about.” The sobs tore loose, and Suzanne heard a loud clunk, as if the phone had been dropped, then anxious voices.
            “Maddie?” A growl of frustration escaped her. If Greg had broken into the house, someone should call the police. Do something.  “Maddie?”
            A moment later a scrabbling noise on the other end of the phone and then a relieved Maddie. “She’s here. She’s back. Joshua took her for a walk, but she told him she wasn’t going to Greg’s.” The hint of a smile in her voice. “I’m so sorry for disturbing your holiday. I promise I won’t call again.”
            “Don’t be silly. If you call, I’ll be there for you, Maddie.  That’s what I’m here for.”
            Maddie said goodbye and Suzanne held the blank phone in her hand a moment, glad the pantry door was closed. Maybe she could stall off her mother’s persistent nagging a little longer. Or at least formulate a coherent response.
            She only wants to see you happy. By her definition, that is. A happily married woman, at home, caring for her man.
            Suzanne shuddered. No, thank you. She enjoyed her independence and intended to keep it.
            The door opened suddenly, startling her. She nearly dropped the phone as she took a step back, ramming her shoulder into a thick shelf of canned goods. “Ouch!”
            Nick studied her curiously. His broad shoulders blocked the kitchen from her view. “What are you doing in here? Did your mom put you in time-out or something?”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do Animals Have a Place in Romance Novels?

I love animals. I even like cats. But do they have a place in romance novels?

I used to like cats better than dogs until we got a small breed dog and let him stay in the house. Then I decided I liked dogs just as much as cats. Then my daughter got Cha Cha.

Cha Cha was a sweet kitten. But I should have known things would change when I caught him trying to nurse my dog--who'd never given birth and had been spayed years before.

As Cha Cha grew--and grew and grew, he became a beast of a cat, bigger than my little Malti-poo, Teetee. And once my nephew showed the cat how to use the doggie door, all signs of sweetness in Cha Cha disappeared. He became a hunter, a wanna be jungle cat who stalks the night. And unfortunately, brings me gifts.

He's brought in all sorts of critters, both alive and dead. Everything from squirrels and rabbits to rats, mice, birds, and moles. He brings birds inside and turns them loose in the house. Sometimes he takes them back out again, and sometimes I come home to find them hanging from a curtain rod or crapping on my walls.

Cha Cha once turned a huge field rat loose at my feet while I was sitting on the toilet! I had to beat the critter to death with the toilet plunger.

Teetee usually rescues me from the rats and mice by killing them and taking them outside for me, but this rat was freaking huge. Teetee was terrified. Cha Cha was amused. He plopped his fat tail down on the bathroom rug and licked his paws while enjoying the show.

He brought a full grown tree squirrel in once and turned it loose in the bedroom. The squirrel was so grateful for my intervention, he let me pick him up and rescue him. Despite my husband screaming at me to drop the critter before it bit me, I was able to take the furry little baby outside and put him back in the tree.

I found his corpse on the sidewalk the next day.

Cha Cha also brought me a flying squirrel once. I learned the hard way NOT to pick up flying squirrels. They tend to bite and they don't release.

My doctor assured me there isn't a large rabid squirrel population in north central NC. Rabies shots were not required and my tetanus shot was up to date.

Cha Cha takes over my house. He thinks he is king. He sits where he wants and sprawls were he wants. He can open doors and sneak into bedrooms and he demands kitty snacks every morning. I can't open the pantry without him trying to get inside. 

The other night, just before supper, I heard a terrified chirp. Cha Cha had snuck in with a bird. I found the cat in the guest room, terrorizing the poor little thing.

I bent down to rescue the bird. Cha Cha growled and dashed under the bed. So, I got down on all fours and grabbed Cha Cha by the tail. I dragged him out, but he left his prey under the bed.

I yelled for my husband to bring me a broom. I couldn't see under the bed, but I could hear the bird and saw a shadow in the darkness next to the wall. I raked the broom under the bed, hoping to drag the bird out and set it free. I hit something with the broom. Eureka!

I dragged it toward me, reached for it with my hand. And....

Pulled out a dead squirrel in full rigor.

I screamed and dropped the squirrel. Cha Cha, taking advantage of my shock and disgust, dashed back under the bed. He grabbed the bird and ran. I yelled at my husband to get rid of the squirrel's body while I took off after that damn cat.

Cha Cha ran for the doggie door. I ran out the kitchen door and tried to head him off a the pass. I caught up with him on the sidewalk and grabbed his tail. He dropped the bird. I picked it up and released it.

The bird flew two feet and crashed landed. Cha Cha grabbed it again. I chased the cat into the front yard in my bare feet yelling like a crazy woman--Lord only knows what my neighbors thought! Then I caught the cat and got the bird away from him again. This time, I put the bird in a tall tree in the front yard.

My husband warned me I'd most likely find the little feathered corpse in my bed the next day. Lucky for me I didn't find it in my bed. Unlucky for the bird. I found his poor mangled body on the sidewalk.

Cha Cha was determined to deliver his "gift" whether I wanted it or not.

I'm just glad he bought the bird inside or I wouldn't have found the dead squirrel until today when I vacuum--or worse, when it started to decompose and stink up my house!

But my daughter shouldn't feel slighted because her cat keeps bringing me gifts. He brought one to her today too, gift wrapped in the bathrobe she'd left on the floor. 

I refused to get rid of it for her. She tried manipulating her daddy. She flashed those baby blues and asked ever so sweetly. Her daddy said, "Your cat. Your corpse." 

She wasn't happy, but she took the carcass outside. And she's still defending that beast of a cat!

"He was just trying to apologize for knocking stuff off my dresser this morning. I had to yell at him and the mouse is a make up present," she said. 

Make up present my ass. It was another murder victim brought inside my house to stink it up. Honestly, I think that cat hates me!

But my friends say I should write a book about him. They think my cat tales are hilarious. They don't have to live with the little bastard. Then again, he can be so sweet when he wants. Trouble is, everything is on Cha Cha's terms.

I don't know if there's a book about Cha Cha in my future, but I think he might just become a secondary character in a future novel. Most likely, he'll be the antagonist. lol!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goals – Helpful or Hurtful?

Have you ever picked up a book by an unfamiliar author and knew from the first chapter that you were going to love his or her work? That's what happened when I read Katherine Grey's Regency romance, Impetuous. It's the type of Regency romance I love but with a unique twist. The hero is Spanish. And oh so sexy.

Now, Ms. Grey has another book out and she's agreed to guest blog with me today. So, please welcome romance author Katherine Grey as she weighs the pros and cons of setting goals.

Goals – Helpful or Hurtful?

When I first starting writing, I set the most unbelievable goals for myself though I thought they would be achieved with ease.  One of them was that I would write 10 pages of new material a day, 7 days a week all while holding down a full time job, long standing commitments 2 nights a week, and another long standing commitment from 8:30am to 3:00pm on Saturdays, and keeping the majority of my Sundays for family time.  I don’t think I ever wrote 10 pages in one day during that time, or wrote 7 days a week.  As each week passed that I didn’t meet that goal, I became more and more depressed.  I questioned my desire to be a published author.  If I wanted it so badly, then I should be able to meet that goal right?  Wrong. 

A very wise friend and fellow writer pointed out that it wasn’t that I wasn’t committed to getting published, I just had too much on my plate to enable me to devote that much time to my writing.  She suggested that I not set goals or to focus on smaller goals that would fit around my scheduled commitments.  

I sat down and looked at my schedule.  I decided I needed the time to devote to my writing so I gave 3 months notice to the proper people on those long term commitments that at the end of the 3 months, I would no longer be able to do them.  During that time I tried to write whenever I could but I missed the structure goal setting gave me.

I’ve come a long way since then.  I still like to set goals because they keep me on track and help me stay focused.  I set yearly goals, quarterly goals, and weekly goals.  But one thing that has changed is now-a-days my goals are very fluid.  For example, one goal is to write 20 to 25 pages a week.  By not nailing down a set page count per day, I give myself room in my schedule if something pops up and I can’t write on a certain day.

I also set goals in my non-writing life for things I want to accomplish by a set time or date though for some reason it doesn’t work when it comes to dieting.  I wonder what that says about me…probably that my weakness for ice cream on a hot summer night is greater than my desire to lose those unwanted pounds.  LOL.

Do you set any type of goals?  Do you find them helpful?  If you don’t set goals, why not?

This is such a timely topic as I'm having trouble with this very issue. I set goals I can't possibly reach and then feel like such a failure that I stop writing for weeks at a time. Then last weekend, I attended an awesome meeting of my local chapter. The topic was Brainstorming but one of the things the speaker said that resonated with me is this: "You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time." Writing is like eating an elephant. There's more there than you realize and the only way to achieve success is to set goals you can live with.

Check out Katherine's newest release:

The Muse
Katherine Grey


Noted poet Blaine Hobson counts the Prince Regent among his patrons. But ever since the socialite he wished to marry took her life, he has been unable to compose a single line of poetry. With a sonnet commissioned by the Regent due in a few weeks, Blaine spends his time alternating between trying to write...and wishing he had the courage to join his beloved in the grave.

Raised in an orphanage with her sister, seamstress Emma Tompkins lives with the guilt of her sibling’s death. Accidentally finding a suicide note penned by Blaine, she resolves to keep him alive at all costs. Vigilant, she returns each day, pushing her way into his home--and losing her heart.

Can Blaine forget his beloved and return the affections of the seamstress? Or once finished with his work, will he cast Emma out of his life forever?


He had to know if she felt as uncomfortable
in his presence as he did in hers. He strode down the
hall, telling himself his eagerness had nothing to do
with seeing Emma herself. His steps slowed. Odd.
The door to the parlour was closed.

He gave a quick rap on the door, although he
didn’t know why since it was his house, turned the
knob, and opened the door. And came to a complete
halt. Bolts of cloth lay in haphazard piles on the
settee and chairs, a stack of paper and the stub of a
pencil lay nearby. In the midst of it all was Emma.
She sat on the floor, her blue gown tucked around
her, a swath of light green fabric in her lap as she
worked pins into the material.

 “Did you find more pins?” she asked without
looking up.

Blaine cleared his throat, struck once again by
her unconscious beauty.

Emma rushed to her feet, one hand still
clutching the cloth. “Yes, I know. A lady does not
crawl about on the floor.” She blew at a loose curl
that had fallen over one eye. “But I never claimed to
be a lady.”

Blaine heard the tired frustration in her voice.
He moved closer and tucked the wayward curl
behind her ear. “You may do anything you wish in
the privacy of this room.”

He tried not to let it bother him when she took a
step back. She laid the fabric aside and began
straightening her hair. He didn’t want her to redo it.
He liked the way she looked, with the wayward
strands curling about her face and neck. His fingers
itched to linger in it, now knowing it was as soft and
silky as it looked. Realizing he was staring at her, he
clasped his hands behind his back and rocked back
on his heels.

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