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Archive for the ‘Romantic’ Category

A Promise of Fire

In Romantic on May 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

The sun is out today, and I might not need a sweatshirt…maybe. It’s been a chilly spring. Brrrrrrr!

Anyway, here’s what’s on my mind today: a writer friend posted on FB about how she’s DNFing (DNF=did not finish) a ton of books lately. I’m in the same boat. Discoverability is really hard for readers AND writers right now. I desperately want good books to read, but I don’t know where to find them. I want readers to find MY books (which I think are very good, OF COURSE), but I don’t know how to make them get discovered other than by spending a ton of money on promotion that likely won’t work. (This is why I have a day job! I love my day job.)

It seems like the best way to make money writing is to publish a lot of books so that you always have something new to talk about on social media. However, fast books are often like fast food for me. They hit the spot, but I hate myself for reading them. For example, I just read a book by a popular and edgy NYT bestselling author. The writing was great. The voice and heroine were engaging, but the plot was THIN, people. The conflict existed only in the most basic sense: past relationships made them wary. At the end, the hero and heroine decided the problems keeping them apart weren’t really problems at all.

Oh.

Yes, I felt sick. And I wanted to post a review pointing out that although compromise is a good way to solve problems, the change has to actually be CHANGE, not just changing your mind. Anyway, it felt rushed, and I was annoyed. A good editor should point out all that stuff, so the author can beef it up. The book was almost good, but now I probably won’t pick up another one by that author. So now what do I read?

Honestly, I’ve been visiting my beautiful bookshelf and re-reading books I love. I’m awaiting WHITE HOT by Ilona Andrews and HEART ON FIRE, the third book in the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. Have you discovered Amanda Bouchet? If not, let me introduce you. I was on FB and a friend recommended her first book, A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Because personal recommendations are one sure-fire way to find good books, I got it out of the library. I LOVED it, bought it on Amazon and pre-ordered the second book, Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles) which I think was coming out a YEAR after the first (YAY! A slow book! And double yay because by the time I read Book 1, I only had to wait a few months for BREATH OF FIRE, Book 2). And now I’m waiting for Book 3, Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Another year, but January 2nd will be aaaaaaawesome!

So A PROMISE OF FIRE starts in a medieval-like times traveling circus where the performers have magic powers. Holy crap, what a great premise. As it turns out, the heroine has super-crazy jacked-up power and she’s HIDING from very mysterious bad people. She displays her power in front of a dangerous, sexy dude who throws her on his horse and takes off with her, and she spends the next good bit of the book physically TIED to him, so she won’t run away. The world building is awesome, the sexual tension is crazy. (Full disclosure, IMHO they should have gotten a lot busier, a lot faster, but I’m kind of book slutty that way.) There’s a huge mystery going on about her family (oh, I love that family shit) and her powers, and although it doesn’t get resolved in the first book, I did NOT feel cheated. The hook for Book 2 was baited in a non-annoying way. And the hook for Book 3 is AH-MAZING. I cannot wait.

And in the middle of all this book love, I did what I sometimes do when I find an author I LOVE: I wrote a fan letter. Bouchet’s book seemed to be doing really well. It had good enough buzz that people were personally recommending it on FB. And she writes for Sourcebooks Casa (who published my books SCRUMPTIOUS and LUSCIOUS). I wanted to reach out and say, “Great job! You are rocking your debut!” As a former debut author, I know how it feels to start this whole gig with high hopes, and I wanted to express my appreciation for everything she was doing to bring great books into the world.

GUESS WHAT???

She wrote me back, and I soon discovered she was as lovely and magical as her books. It’s the crunchy nuts on top of the turtle sundae when authors are personally awesome! So I asked her to say a little something about her books that I could share with all of you on my blog. Something inspiring. Or something about her inspiration. Because we all need that. We do. Here’s what the uber-talented Amanda Bouchet wanted to say to YOU:

Cat, the heroine in A Promise of Fire, is the real inspiration behind the novel and what ended up turning into The Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy. A feisty, dark-haired woman with magic to die (and kill) for was all I really had in mind when I started writing. I couldn’t get this character out of my head—spirited, snarky, powerful, but also damaged and with layers and layers of hidden doubts and fears. Cat herself and the opening circus scene, where her friends are performing with all sorts of spectacular magical talents, were so vivid in my head that I had to write something down. I had no idea where I was going with it when I started writing, but I knew there was a story there. In fact, I abandoned a paranormal romance I’d been working on for more than two years because Cat was so insistent that I tell her story instead!

And I, personally, am so glad she did. I highly recommend you buy all of her books and have yourself a wonderful time. Here’s a link to the series: The Kingmaker Chronicles (3 Book Series).

SO HOW DO YOU DISCOVER BOOKS? WHAT IS YOUR LATEST, GREATEST FIND? Please, for the love of all the book loving souls looking for great reads, share your wily methods and favorite discoveries! 🙂

HOTtest thing ON ICE!

In Romantic on March 21, 2017 at 8:11 am

Hi everybody!

It’s spring! It’s spring! My yard is dappled with melting snow and shingles that blew off in the windstorm that happened right before the heavens opened up and dumped two feet of snow on us, but it’s spring!

And that means HOCKEY! Actually, I have no idea when people play hockey, but it’s probably the fall. That seems to be when they jack the parking lot prices up downtown when I’m teaching and make me beg for a discount because I’m a poor professor.

However, HOT ON ICE, an anthology of 18 hot hockey romances is out today! I considered taking part in this anthology for a hot half-second when these super-cool women asked me to join them, but I don’t sports. Like, at all. I have never, in this life of mine, taken time to understand the rules. But I’ve loved sports romance ever since Jaci Burton’s series with all those shirtless athletes. Molly O’Keefe had some great hockey players, too. I love the adrenaline, the alpha, and the sweat, but I am perfectly content not to write about it. Let’s leave that to people who love it — the authors of HOT ON ICE.

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology .99 cents. Hot hockey heroes. Some of my favorite authors AND people. I actually pre-ordered this one, folks, and I never do that. If sports romance is your thing, go get it!

And here’s the link to the Facebook Party going on all day. I’ll be there! If you have never taken part in one of these things, check it out. Authors give away tons of books and stuff. I’m giving away the bowl scrapers I ordered for Wild Wicked Weekend swag bags. (Yes, I know I promised you a re-cap of the weekend, but, as it turns out, what happens at the dungeon stays in the dungeon. Vegas rules, apparently, and I signed something to that effect. However, I’m not sure that applies to MY experience. I am the confessional sort, however, my mom reads this blog! LOL. Another day for that post!)

In order to win at the HOT ON ICE Party, you have to join the party. Like, actually click “join” or “going” or whatever on the party page. That way they can find you and tell you what you scored.

Another reason to buy the book: part of the proceeds are going to Homes for our Troops, a charity that builds specially modified homes for injured veterans. I’d love these hardworking women to make a big splash with their book, so even if hockey ain’t your thing or you hate FB parties, would you mind sharing the HOT ON ICE news with some of your sports-minded reader friends? I’d appreciate it! FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever you got. (As an aside, whenever the topic comes up, my Instagram-addicted teen tells me FB is for moms. Bwahahaha! I am that mom, and I’ll be in and out of the Hot On Ice FB party all day.)

Happy spring, my friends! Here’s hoping it grabs a hockey stick and beats winter’s chilly butt into the ground.

XOXO,

Amanda

God Bless America (and these guys)

In Romantic on July 1, 2016 at 8:19 am
I'm afraid I didn't put enough frosting on these cupcakes. But I always think about the person trying to get them out of the packaging without messing them up! Thoughts?

I’m afraid I didn’t put enough frosting on these cupcakes. But I always think about the person trying to get them out of the packaging without messing them up! Thoughts?

I have a confession to make. (Other than the fact, it’s early morning, everyone is asleep, and I was working on my WIP until !SQUIRREL! now I’m writing a blog post.)

I love the vocal band Home Free in a mostly pure way.

In fact…(here’s the confession) I support them on Patreon, which is like a GoFundMe for artists. Every time they make a video, I make a contribution, so they can keep making awesome videos that make me sigh and go, OMG, look at AUSTIN. Is it just me or does he look like Sam Heughan’s younger, more slightly-built brother? And look at Adam make his drum faces. I adore the beard-y guy, Rob, with his sweet, soulful tenor. And Tim? All about that bass. One of the founders, Chris, just left to pursue his soul-o projects, and the guy who replaced him is named Chance. He’s got that “Aw, shucks, just off the farm” vibe combined with steady confidence. If I were writing him, he’d be the bartender. He looks like a good listener.

I love them all.

Click here to get inspired while they sing GOD BLESS THE USA at Mount Rushmore. See what I mean? In this video, they are respectful and sincere, as well they should be. You should check them out in less circumspect videos, like their “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” cover, or, my personal fav, “Honey, I’m Good.” Maybe you should watch them while sitting on the bean bag in front of the big screen! Oh wait, that’s me.

I took my girls to their concert in February. I looked forward to it for months. Watching and listening to these cute boys (fine, men) sing is inspiring. They all have their place in the whole, and they own it. They’ve got a ton of talent, and I get the sense they are doing what makes them happy. Authenticity – they have it. And…they make my heart go pitter-pat in a not-unpleasant-even-if-I-am-a-cougar way. Actually…I’m not sure my husband knows I support them on Patreon, LOL. He does now. My heart raced when I made the decision. I think I grew three sizes younger that day…not really. But I’m all about seeking inspiration in this writer life, and they definitely INSPIRE. In fact (although I’m more spiritual than religious), it was their version of O Holy Night that made me fall in love with the band.

So God Bless America and God Bless Home Free!

If you live in the grand ole U.S.A., be safe and joyous as you celebrate our Independence Day. I’ve been celebrating with cupcakes and cake and my vocal band boyfriends. What are your plans? I love chatting with you! Blogging is a bit like walking down the street naked. You know people are probably there, but you don’t know for sure until they yell, “Nice butt!” All commenters will be entered in my next drawing, a gift card to The Ripped Bodice, Amazon, or B&N. (Drawing will be at the end of the summer…to celebrate the start of school. 🙂 )

Our new creation for the top of the Sheridan Wegmans patisserie case!

Our new creation for the top of the Sheridan Wegmans’ patisserie case!

A Visit to The Ripped Bodice-a Romantic Bookstore in Los Angeles

In Romantic on May 27, 2016 at 1:48 am
The only picture we took of the two of us together the entire weekend. #hangover

The only picture we took of the two of us together the entire weekend. #classic

My high school BFF is a finder of good things. Since I live in Buffalo, NY, and she lives in Los Angeles, CA, we don’t get to see each other often. We’ve kept in touch (sometimes heroically) over the past 22 years (OMG. 22. Years.) via e-mail, epic phone conversations a few times a year, and FB, mostly. I often get a quick, “This made me think of you,” and then a link to something like this hilarious thing. When we both turned 40, I flew to CA (right before the RWA conference in Anaheim – double win!) and we spent an amazing weekend in Venice Beach. If you’ve followed my blog for that long, maybe you remember this post. Lord knows, I haven’t forgotten those berries. I still wish I’d purchased a flat and eaten the whole thing. Absolutely a #firstworldregret

Photo May 12, 2 35 45 PM Recently, she texted me a link to the website of the newly-opened The Ripped Bodice, an all-romance bookstore in Culver City, CA, and I immediately wanted to go. Since I was going to be visiting her the next month, I could! High school BFF is an incredible planner, and she worked it into our itinerary. Mind you, this is a woman who texted me, “Windy beach or desert sun? Should I book a hotel in Santa Barbara or Palm Springs?” with distances in minutes and Google images of both locations. That was a no-brainer for this Buffalo chick. I’m always freezing. PALM SPRINGS, which is where we went right after we visited the bookstore!

Why, yes, they do have fun events like signings and romantic comedy nights. If you live in the area, check them out!

Why, yes, they do have fun events like signings and romantic comedy nights. If you live in the area, check them out!

OMG.

The Ripped Bodice so far exceeded my expectation, I can’t even. It was adorable, well laid out, had an amazing selection of romances, many of which I’d read (good sign), and many more I WANTED to read. Bea, one of the two sister-owners, was working the desk, and she was as adorably distracted by the FREAKING BOOK COVER/HOT COVER MODEL PHOTO SHOOT going on at the front of the store as we were. I was all “be cool, be cool, let’s not bother the professionals.” But high school BFF, so much more self-possessed than I, was all “I’ll be so disappointed if we don’t get a picture with him.” Dude, she was right. Can you imagine missing that golden opportunity? We bought our books, talked authors and books with Bea. I may have embarrassed myself a little because I was so excited to talk romance industry since I’m off the conference circuit until I finish/publish another book. But Bea seemed the understanding type, and I’m giving myself a pass since I was in romance Mecca.

Photo May 12, 2 43 39 PMI waited for my moment (when they took a break)…and then I asked Mickael De Sinno if he would pose with high school BFF and I! And Jenn LeBlanc, author, photographer, and Studio Smexy maven took our picture! So much fun. We totally swooned. How often does THAT happen when you walk in a bookstore?

I was so delighted to visit the romantic bookstore that I’ve been hearing so much about lately. But even if you can’t swan out to LA like I did, guess what? You can shop online for books or schwag! Darn, it’s good schwag, too. I want that heroine tank top, even if it’s $30. And the romance categories are fantastic. Along with the usual “Paranormal” and “Inspirational,” they have “Bikes and Tats” and “Highlanders.” I will absolutely check The Ripped Bodice website the next time I need a book in print. I will also need to take a good browse through those categories. It’s like having a romance librarian on tap. 🙂

I love it when a good plan comes together!

Okay. I lied. We went here after The Ripped Bodice.

In-N-Out Burger, Animal Style! Twice.

In-N-Out Burger, Animal Style! Twice. Then we went to Palm Springs. 😀

The view from our balcony.

The view from our balcony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every once in a while…you just gotta fangirl. I fangirl for The Ripped Bodice, Palm Springs, and my high school BFF (Happy birthday, Erin!)! Who do you fangirl for? Leave a comment, and I’ll put your name in the hat to win a book from the most romantic bookstore in Culver City. Your pick (Not to exceed $15, excluding shipping!). I’ll pick the winner…on the first day of summer. So who? What? Tell me who brings out your fangirl!

Friends For Dinner

In Romantic on May 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

Write a book reviewIf you are a parent, and your kids went through a “Land Before Time” phase, I apologize for the ear worm. For those of you who thought this post would include a dinner party menu, I apologize for disappointing you. (It’s a good idea, though. I’ll throw a dinner party this summer and write about it, I promise.) But today, I’m talking about writing book reviews, which is why I keep humming “Friends For Dinner,” a song that has something to do with a young Tyrannosaurus Rex successfully making friends with herbivorous dinosaurs.

As an author, I love when readers review my books. I’ve heard 50 reviews on Amazon is a magic number, and when you get that many, Amazon gives you the promotional equivalent of a magical pony. (Hasn’t happened for me yet. SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY has hovered at 49 for ages. Not that I noticed! LOL.) But I write very few book reviews. This sad fact has been making me feel like an asshole for years. YEARS. Because I know a lot of authors, and I want to support them. I know how hard it is to write, edit, proof, publish, and promote a book. It’s an enormous accomplishment just to type THE END on a first draft, FFS! Why don’t I write more reviews?

I know one reason: I don’t love all the books I read. Sometimes I love the author…and hate the book. If I can’t give it 5 damn stars, I keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. My editor brain can tear a book apart, but I’m not going to do that to my friends. I’m not going to eat them for dinner. The romance community is a tiny little world. To me, 5 stars means I’ll read a book more than once, make notes, it changed my life, I’ll never forget it, or I want to sleep with one of the characters as much as I want to finish my work-in-progress. (Which is a LOT.) I can’t give every book I read five stars without lying, which Amazon knows, which is probably why they keep monkeying with their review policy. I know I can give a book 4 stars and not say horrid things about it, I just haven’t felt right about it…until now. Because this year is all about identifying the things that make me happy and making them so.

I’m a reader first and foremost. I don’t always get everything on my to-do list done. My house isn’t white-glove clean. (HA!) I don’t always get to the gym. But I read every day. I always have. So why don’t I review more of the books I read when I KNOW it would help my friends and colleagues?! I mean c’mon, I walked into The Ripped Bodice bookstore in CA last week, and knew or had met, seen, read, or tweeted almost EVERY AUTHOR ON THE FREAKING SHELVES. Straight-up, I was a name-dropping fool. (Such a neat place! More on that later in the week. I’m going to write a Fangirl Friday post.)

So…why? WHY?! I know why. I’m sensitive. (I’ve always hated to be teased. Ask my mother.) I want people to like me. I don’t want anyone to feel bad. I don’t want to feel bad. (I hate conflict. Ask my editor.) OMG, I’m 44 years old, and I feel like I’m just beginning to figure myself out. It seems crazy, but I have the same issues I’ve always had. But now I’ve decided I to change for the better, to change for the happy. This probably would have been easier when I was younger, but it’s all part of my journey, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. (Even though being hard on myself is where I excel. I’m trying to change that, too.)

I believe posting more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads will make me happy. Or at least remove one of the ways I’ve been feeling bad. For me, that amounts to the same thing. It will also help other readers discover new books, and, on the flip-side, help my author colleagues with that tricky magical pony business of discoverability. As for any hurt feelings should any of my author friends uncover my newly-cloaked reader identity and find I didn’t give their book 5 stars? I sincerely hope the royalties they earn from me buying the book will help them forgive me.Write on!

What about you? Do you review books? Do you have any issues with it? Do you use your real name? What about other issues? Got those? Identifying them? Working on them? 🙂

May I suggest making a change for the happy? It’s what’s for dinner!

 

 

 

Pregnant? Know the Signs of Postpartum Hemorrhage

In Romantic on December 31, 2015 at 8:26 am

A.K.A Seat warmers make me feel like I’m dying.

This is how much snow there was in Buffalo in 2001!

This is how much snow there was in Buffalo in 2001!

It’s the last day of the year, and I tend to get a little contemplative. Not because of that whole New Year’s resolution thing, screw that. Like I need another thing to beat myself up over. I’m practicing kindness toward myself in 2016. I am defending myself to myself like a goddamn mama bear. (Thank you so much, Jill, for sending me the link to this blog post from Midlife Blvd “Beyond Self Acceptance”. Love it. You rock.)

I get think-y at this time of year because it’s cold outside, and I have seat warmers in the car. When I turn them on, at that weird moment when the heat kicks in, I feel like I’m dying. A warm rush in the nether regions would make some people feel like they are wetting their pants, but I’ve never wet my pants as an adult. (Yet. Who am I kidding. Three kids. Pelvic floor. I’ll hit that bridge, no doubt.) But I have felt more warm blood soak my lap than anyone should.

So what happened?

Well…as a superstitious first-time mother, I skipped the postpartum hemorrhage chapter in “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.” Because I was an idiot. If you are pregnant or trying to get yourself knocked up, please be smarter than I was. Read that freaking chapter. If you have a birth partner, make them read it. Get knowledgable. That’s the first step, the second is prepare yourself to be your own advocate. Doctors and nurses don’t know everything. I really wish they did. That would be spectacular. Unfortunately, most of the people trying to care for you won’t know you. But YOU do. If something feels wrong, it very well might BE wrong. What’s the worst thing that will happen if you insist on seeing or speaking with a doctor? Someone will think you are pushy? Bitchy? A worry wart? Or maybe…healthy? Alive?

What are the signs? This is a well-written article from babycenter that explains postpartum hemorrhage in detail. Basically, excessive bleeding is the biggest sign (soaking through more than one pad an hour for several hours in a row, bright red blood for more than just a few days, passing blood clots bigger than golf balls). Some bleeding is normal after a vaginal delivery, and your nurses will let you know if yours is “within normal limits.” Unless you are me. Then you have an induced, no drugs, vaginal birth with a fourth degree tear. It takes the doctor an hour to sew up your hoo-ha. You’ve been through so much trauma the doctor doesn’t want to stick his hand up there to make sure all of the placenta detached. Guess what?

It didn’t.

Childbirth wasn’t pain. It was pressure. A metric shit ton of pressure, but just pressure. You know what hurt? My freaking back after delivery. Why did it hurt? Because I retained placenta. When you retain placenta, your body thinks there’s still a baby there that needs blood, so it keeps sending blood. My blood was clotting inside my uterus, it wasn’t spilling out between my thighs for the nurses to see. I complained of pain. They checked my pad. Within normal limits. #not

This is me in pain. I'm, like, "Baby? What baby? My back is KILLING ME!"

This is me in pain. I’m, like, “Baby? What baby? My back is KILLING ME!”

Also not normal was the fact that I couldn’t pee. You should be able to pee after you deliver. If you can’t, then something has swollen up, another bad sign. My nurse kept giving me water so that I would pee, but it’s super busy on holidays. I think she lost track of how much was going in and not coming out. By the time the doctor came in the next morning, my bladder was holding two and a half times as much as it should, and my uterus was full of blood clots. For me, the biggest sign of postpartum hemorrhage was PAIN. I begged for drugs, drugs I did not request at any point during delivery. Begged. My nurse wouldn’t give me anything because she knew I wanted to breastfeed. I remember tapping on the bedrail with my fingers because I needed a focus point to get through the pain. I couldn’t get comfortable. If I had a low pain tolerance, then all of that MIGHT have been “normal.” But I don’t have a low pain tolerance. If anything it’s too high, and when my poor doctor checked my uterus the next morning, he went white as my bed sheet. That’s the last thing I remember before I came out of surgery. That’s how fast they took me into the operating room for a D&C, so they could scrape out that sticky placenta.

I lost half the blood in my body that day. They replaced it with four units of matched blood and platelets, which apparently can’t be typed. Because nothing could go right, I reacted to the platelets at the exact moment no one, but NO ONE, could be found in the intensive care unit. One point in our favor: we’d asked what might happen if I had a bad reaction, so we knew all I needed was Benedryl. We just couldn’t find anyone to give it to me. When I stopped shaking, my husband started. The guy held our perfectly healthy eight pound seven ounce baby the entire time I was getting my D&C, pretty much convinced it was just going to be him and her forever, and THEN he had to watch me go into fits just when he was starting to relax? Poor guy!

Eventually we made it home. I love this shot.

Eventually we made it home. I love this shot.

My very relieved husband. Baby? Check. Bourbon? Check. Dog? Check. Whew!

My very relieved husband. Baby? Check. Bourbon? Check. Dog? Check. Whew!

I always thought I’d take my horrific delivery experiences and put them in a book, but you know what? It’s been fourteen freaking years, and I haven’t done it. I’m still traumatized. I’m still angry that I wasn’t informed enough to be my own advocate. Furious. I can feel my blood rising when I think about it. Because I didn’t learn my lesson. It happened AGAIN.

(Baby number two was just your garden variety obstetrical disaster. Complete placenta previa. That means the placenta sealed the exit to my uterus. Emergency cesarean at thirty-five weeks and a week in the NICU. All good now.)

But baby number three? OMG. (You’re wondering why I kept having kids, aren’t you. Excellent question. The answer? I saw my son in a vision. True story. And I’m not very bright. Obviously.) Let me tell you, there is nothing like being wide open on the delivery table at the end of a festive cesarean section in which they have just pulled out the first grandSON among seven grandDAUGHTERS. By kid number three, I knew I made funny placentas, at least. I spoke up. I begged the doctor to make sure she scraped my uterus bare. I was assured all traces of placenta were clear.

I do not think that word means what she thought it meant at that crucial moment.

My uterus wouldn’t clamp down. When the placenta (and baby) is gone, the uterus clamps down and starts strinking back to its normal size. Hospital staff encourages it to shrink by massaging it. It feels like a monster menstrual cramp and makes you want to punch them. If it doesn’t shrink, they give you a drug to help. If it still won’t shrink they do bi-manual massage, which means one hand up your hoo-ha and one hand on your belly. They massaged until my spinal wore off and I’d lost half the blood in my body again. My uterus finally clamped down, I got transfusions, and they said I was fine. #not

What it looked like the second time around. Look at all that blood going into my arm!

What it looked like the second time around. Look at all that blood going into my arm! I look blood drunk. Wheee! And OMG, that’s a 2006 cell phone in my lap! It doesn’t even flip!

In the weeks after delivery, when I complained of excessive bleeding, I was told it was “within normal limits.” When I complained of pain, I was denied a refill of my Lortab (goddamn it). When I woke up in a pool of blood, dreaming that I was pulling alien baby doll parts from between my legs, and discovered the entire space between my knees and my crotch was full of blood clots, we called 911. After a midnight, black-ops ultrasound by a plucky resident, they sent me home. Just a bunch of junk in my uterus. It happens. Even my father, a retired OB, said it happens.

I was a teeny, teeny bit smarter this time. My doctor didn’t call me to check on me after the 911 call (WTF?) but I insisted on a follow-up. And another ultrasound. And…drum roll…they found retained placenta. And I had another D&C. Six weeks postpartum. I walked around bleeding to death for SIX WEEKS. What were THOSE signs? Pain. Fatigue. A sweet smell in my discharge but I swear it didn’t smell rotten. All that middle of the night blood. (My friend Melissa cleaned it up while we were at the hospital so the girls wouldn’t wake up and see it. Thanks, man. Ewww.)

So THOSE are the signs of postpartum hemorrhage they DON’T put in the books. Oh! One more: I had trouble breastfeeding #3. By that time, I felt like a pro because I breastfed each girl for a year. But my nipples were cracking, nearly hinging and falling off, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. As it turns out, when your body is fighting infection from retained placenta, having trouble breastfeeding…happens. Ugh. (Pure lanolin on the nips is the only thing that helps the cracking, btw. At least it was ten years ago.)

Having babies is the best kind of fun, but it’s also dangerous. Hospitals are busy places. Let me be a cautionary tale. If reading this prevents even one person from going through any part of what I did, then my work is done. Be informed about the signs of what can go wrong during delivery (and then hopefully it won’t). Excessive pain is not normal. Make sure you can pee. If you can’t…don’t drink two quarts of water. Most of all SPEAK UP! Be loud if necessary. Being a squeaky wheel is better than possibly bleeding to death. Put THAT on a greeting card!

Sooooo…happy birthday to my Teen! She doesn’t like cake, so we half-baked a chocolate chip cookie cake and then put brownie batter on top of it and finished baking it. I’m going to pour chocolate ganache all over that puppy, and we will take it to a New Year’s Eve party tonight. I’ll let you know what degree of heaven it is.

Happy, Healthy, Whole New Year to YOU and YOURS! I love birth stories, so if you want to share yours in the comments, please do. There is nothing more fun than having babies! (Except making them…)

Jessica Topper Rocks

In Romantic on September 24, 2015 at 9:27 am

Softer Than Steel Teaser

Once upon a time, my daughter made a friend at Temple, and I set up a playdate. (Actually, Jess probably coordinated the details…) But what transpired after that has been a great gift in my life: a new author friend to love! If you haven’t read a Jessica Topper book, you should. I always come back to two things when talking about Jess’s work – beautiful words and deep characters. She creates worlds for her people, not just the one they share, but individual histories they bring to the story. In SOFTER THAN STEEL, her latest release, these histories include an iguana named Banana Louie, an orange ribbon, a misericorde tattoo, crippling panic attacks. a drunk dad, and two heartbreaking ghosts (it’s not a ghost story, but if you read it, you’ll know who I mean). And yoga and rock and roll, of course.

You can hear Jess’s fantastic voice in the blurb:

Under the liberating guise of his alter ego ‘Riff Rotten’, Rick Rottenberg has circled the globe playing sold-out shows and sampling the universal delights that fame and fortune allow a rock star of his caliber. But he can no longer ignore the panic attacks plaguing him with increasing regularity. Not knowing where else to turn, Rick finds himself turning a doorknob – entering not only into the spiritual world of yoga, but into a retro world of rock music he had long abandoned as well. Revolve Records reminds him of why he picked up a guitar in the first place, and he hopes that Evolve Yoga – and its sexy owner – will help him forget everything else.

Swearing off musicians has been Sidra Sullivan’s mantra ever since a charismatic singer with a bad case of LSD (Lead Singer Disease) blocked her chakras and closed off her heart. The last thing she wants is another huge ego in tight pants hanging around, consuming her time and attention. But when Rick makes an offer to save her family’s historic Lower East Side building in exchange for her help, she begrudgingly makes an exception.

As she works him up to more challenging poses, he begins to wear down her walls of protection, challenging her to see him in a different light. She, in turn, teaches the steeled, seasoned rock warrior to soften his stance and find strength from within. But when a rock and roll power play threatens to disrupt the delicate balance that has grown between them, Sidra must decide whether to follow her head and fight, or to open her heart and fly.

Sidra and Riff became so real to me I felt as if I could slip inside their skins. I was having an awful week, working something like eight days straight at the bakery, and I spent most of my free time reading SOFTER THAN STEEL. Topper world is a wondrous place to be. My favorite moments are when her hard rock heroes hit the stage. As a long-time member of the inner world of the music biz, Topper’s command of rock vocabulary is absolute. Jess is also a lifelong metal head, an Iron Maiden devotee of the highest order. She lives it. She writes it. She owns it. Meet Jess Topper…

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Jessica Topper is an ex-librarian turned rock n’ roll number cruncher. She can trace her love for the written word back to age three, when she memorized Maurice Sendak’s “Chicken Soup with Rice” in its entirety.

After her daughter was born, Jessica left the Manhattan library world and began working for her husband’s music management company. He offered her a part-time bookkeeping job so she could “stay home for the baby’s first year” and pursue her dream of writing.

The baby is now thirteen, and Jessica has been working her full-time, sold-her-soul-for-rock-n-roll job as Office Manager for veteran jam band moe. ever since. She may have traded in books for bookkeeping, but the written word is never far from her mind, or her heart.

Jessica lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter and one ancient cat. You can visit her at www.jessicatopper.com.

SOFTER THAN STEEL is the third book in her Love & Steel series. It can stand alone, but I recommend starting at the beginning with the book that blew my socks off when it was only half-written. Jessica Topper is that good. Enter her music world with LOUDER THAN LOVE. Keep going with DEEPER THAN DREAMS. And then enjoy: SOFTER THAN STEEL!

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Here’s an excerpt from SOFTER THAN STEEL because she also brings the sexy…and never enough Topper! 🙂

“Erm, luv . . . do you realize there’s a shoe nailed to your wall?”

The gentle kisses between her breasts had felt like a dream, but the vibration of Rick’s voice and his breath on her skin both warmed and awakened her.

“Yes, it’s my flip-flop.” The gorgeous guy who had shared her bed for the second night in a row was now working his way down her body. Sunlight streamed through the windows, bronzing his strong shoulders. She captured one of his curls between her fingers as it tickled its way across her tummy and lazily twirled it. “You’re only noticing it now?”

 “My mind is usually elsewhere when I’m in your bedroom, luv. As is my mouth.”

Sidra groaned, twisting his hair in her fist. “Talk about driving your point home,” she panted as his tongue darted against her tightest, most tender spot. “Oh, my . . .” His arms gripped her thighs as he lifted her.

 “I could drink from you all day, Goddess.”

Those dark eyes flicked a glance at her so intense, she nearly came on the next long lap of his tongue. But he wasn’t nearly through with her. He kissed her very tip, making her tremble and buck up against him.

He licked slow circles around her glossy core, stroking out each whimper and sigh as his personal prize. Heat spiraled in her belly, and her breasts ached. She ran her hands over them, marveling at their heaviness, before plunging her fingers into his hair. He groaned, pulling her against his mouth and sucking her sweetly.

“Make love to me.” She had never wanted anything like she wanted him inside of her now. Her whole being begged for him. “Rick . . .” She summoned, and he responded, climbing her gently, sliding kisses across her hips, her nipples, her throat, covering her with his lean, hard frame.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Riff Rotten…

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Get SOFTER THAN STEEL from Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, Google, Books-A-Million

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And let’s give a shout out to GOSSIP GIRLS PR for setting up Jessica Topper’s righteous blog tour!

INDULGENCE SALE!

In Romantic on September 1, 2015 at 9:04 am

But not the kind you can get from the Pope, if any of you good Catholics were hoping! This Indulgence sale is books, books, books, and more books for .99. The ENTIRE line is on sale this week only. Need a little something to chase away the end of summer blues? CLICK! Delighted the kids are going back to school and want to celebrate? CLICK! Don’t want to talk on your lunch break? CLICK! Been a good girl/boy and deserve a reward? CLICK! Been a bad girl/boy and need incentive to behave? CLICK! Just love Indulgence books? CLICKCLICKCLICK!

Personally, I’m kind of all of those things right now. For the first time EVER, the school supply shopping did not give me fits. Of course, that could be because I didn’t comparison shop. My goal was to get it done without going into a folder rage, and I did. I’m on my last day of eight days straight at my part-time bakery job, and I’m psyched for a day off. My girl children want to go school clothes shopping, so I’m a little terrified. But cheerful. Because next week, I’ll be able to hear myself think without also hearing young voices ask, “What can I eat?” “What are we doing today?” “When is Dad getting home?” “Are you working tonight?” Logically, I know this doesn’t mean I’ll get any more words written in a day, but I’m going to buy myself some Indulgences and think about that later…

Happy September, everyone!

A few of my favorite Indulgences! Click to read an excerpt from IMPULSE CONTROL, book one in the Men of the Zodiac Series!

A few of my favorite Indulgences! Click to read an excerpt from IMPULSE CONTROL, Book One of the Men of the Zodiac Series!

 

Men of the Zodiac Series: Gemini and Cancer Giveaways

In Romantic on May 6, 2015 at 12:01 am

I fell behind! Two great new books in the Men of the Zodiac series released, but I was recovering from a very busy March. I worked six days (and many hours in each day) every week in March at my teaching and bakery jobs. I thought I’d hit the ground running in April, and I did. Sort of. I decided to paint the family room! But first I had to strip the wallpaper, prime it like crazy, cut it in (twice), and roll on the paint (also twice). I’m still not done. I also bought a huge TV to replace the ancient Sony 22″ tube monstrosity we’ve had forever and got estimates on the built-in bookshelves of my dreams!

Meanwhile, I failed to shake my book release maracas for Sonya Weiss’s THE MILLIONAIRE’S FOREVER and Annie Seaton’s TEN DAYS IN TUSCANY. First, let’s take a long look at one of the most beautiful backs I have ever wanted to lick.

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Click the pic for buy links!

Sign: Gemini
There are two sides to every Gemini guy…and one of them is red-hot.

Olivia Carter has a handsome, millionaire boyfriend. She’s madly in love with him. The hitch? He doesn’t actually exist. She told the lie to save Forever, her wedding design shop. And it worked—almost too well. As the media attention increases, so do the demands for Olivia to produce her “boyfriend.” With both her reputation and career in jeopardy, Olivia is desperate enough to do almost anything…

Which is exactly what millionaire Mason Parker wants. Thanks to Olivia and her father, Mason went through hell during his teen years, and now it’s time for a little payback—starting with the announcement that he’s her one and only. Now the sexy Olivia has no choice but to do what Mason wants. But none of his plans for vengeance included falling in love with the woman he planned to ruin…

Note the scars on his back. You want to know how he got them, don’t you? I’m not telling, but there’s a very simple way to find out. Enter my contest! Or buy just buy the book if you need immediate gratification!

Now let’s turn our gazes to this guy:

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Click the pic for buy links!

Sign: Cancer

Home is where this guy’s heart is. And bed is where you’ll find him…

Gia Carelli waits tables in her small Tuscan village, dreaming of a life in which her overbearing family allows her to move to Florence to pursue art. Everyone expects her to marry a nice local boy and raise a horde of bambini, but when a gorgeous, wealthy stranger visits, Gia wonders if maybe her stars are about to change.

Nic Baldini has returned to his Tuscan Villa for a much-needed break from the responsibilities of his powerful family. Struck by local artist Gia Carelli’s raw talent and passion, he finds himself wanting to help her…and lies about his identity in order to gain her trust. But as their patron-protegée relationship is quickly eclipsed by desire, Nic realizes that one tiny lie could cost him the woman he’s falling for.

His lips are really something, aren’t they? And that chin. Those eyes. And eyebrows. I have a thing for eyebrows, and I don’t feel bad at about objectifying this guy. At all. Nope! But if you do, let me help you assuage your guilt by giving you a chance to learn more about his personality. Enter my contest for the chance to win!

I’ll shake my release day maracas again on May 12th when the next book in the Men of the Zodiac Series, THE MILLIONAIRE DADDY PROJECT,  by Roxanne Snopek comes out. The hero is a Leo! We Aries love to LOVE and HATE Leos. Grandstanders. Attention whores. Charming bastards, every one of them trying to steal the spotlight from the rightful rams who deserve it. Oh so delicious! Bring. Him. On.

The Millionaire’s Deception

In Romantic on March 27, 2015 at 10:23 am

Book 2 in the Men of the Zodiac Series is out! I just started reading it because March is a crazy month for me. I’m working almost every night at a community college teaching pastry arts classes and working weekends at Wegmans. I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going these days, but I do know I’m psyched that the heroine of THE MILLIONAIRE’S DECEPTION by Wendy Byrne owns a diner. You know how I feel about food. 🙂 The hero is a headstrong Taurus, and I also love stubborn and hung like a bull. Did I just write that? I did. Actually, I haven’t gotten to the part of the book where we find out the deets about his junk, but I have faith he’s packing something substantial. Taurus. Bull. No author could resist that…

Taurus: Book 2 of the Men of the Zodiac Series

Taurus: Book 2 of the Men of the Zodiac Series

Sign: Taurus
He’s stubborn, but he loves his rewards…especially the sensual kind.

Rafe McCall has a reputation as the Closer. He rakes in serious cash to make deals happen. Convincing small restaurant owner Frankie Ritacco to sell his business for property development should have been a piece of easy, profitable cake. So Rafe blows into Wilcox, Iowa on his Harley, convinced that the deal is all but done. But he is so, so wrong…

For starters, “Frankie” is a woman. A stunning, stubborn woman who wants to preserve her idyllic small town. Despite her pitiful prospects for marriage and children, the Crossroads Café is part of Frankie’s family’s legacy. There’s no way she’s selling, even if she is tempted by a super-hot bad boy millionaire. Or if said bad-boy millionaire actually seems to genuinely want to help. But with Frankie’s café in serious trouble, Rafe must decide if he can close the deal… or if he’s found the deal breaker of a lifetime.

If you like to chat with authors and win prizes, join us tonight online on FB at THE MILLIONAIRE’S DECEPTION Party.  Here’s the lineup:

The hostess with the mostest: Wendy Byrne/Author
4:15pm-4:30pm Roxanne Snopek Author
4:30pm-4:45pm Amanda Usen
4:45pm-5:00pm Sonya Weiss
5:00pm-5:15pm Annie Seaton Author
5:15pm-5:30pm Alice K. Wayne
5:30pm-5:45pm AC Wilson/M. Kay Fox
5:45pm-6:00pm Nina Crespo

Looks like I’ve got the happy hour spot! Happy Friday! Happy March! Happy reading! HAPPY SPRING! Let me know what you think about THE MILLIONAIRE’S DECEPTION. We can read it together! I’ll post about all the books in the upcoming series, so you don’t miss any. There are some great authors lined up, and I can’t wait. 🙂