Monday, February 18, 2013

I Heart You

Yes, it's the month where we all receive cards, flowers and candy from that special person in our life. But did you also know that it's also Go Red for Women month?

This is not something we generally like to think about, but more women die from Heart Disease than men. You are more likely to die from heart disease than cancer. Here are the general statistics found on The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women's website:

General statistics

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
  • An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
  • Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
  • Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.

Hispanic and African American Women are at an even greater risk.

So this month while we're celebrating the month of love and relationships, stop for a moment and think about how you can take better care of yourself.  Even if you're a very young woman, learn the symptoms of a heart attack: 
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As women we have a tendency to put everyone's needs before our own. We are like the Energizer Bunny never stopping and slowing down, always on the go. This month when you receive that Valentine's Day card or flowers, do your loved ones a favor and get checked for heart disease. Discuss with your doctor your risks and wear red to help make more women aware that heart disease is our number one killer.

Tell me how heart disease has affected your family?  For more information go to:
Because it is the month of love and relationships, I'm going to give away this month an ebook copy of Wronged, the first book in my Cuvier Widows series.  Leave a comment and I'll enter you in the drawing.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweethearts Candy

My fondest memories of Valentine's Day are from elementary school. Of course, I'm old enough to remember Valentine's Day parties and the little valentines you gave to your classmates. I have fond memories of going through my valentines to see what everyone wrote on the cards, looking for that special person in your class.  Every year someone would give you a little box of Sweethearts, the heart-shaped candies with sayings on them.  I remember putting a Kiss Me heart on the desk of a little boy that I liked in the third grade. He was my first boyfriend until Susan, that naughty nine-year old temptress, lured him away.

For fun, I thought I would see if I could find some history on how these candies were created. Wikipedia had a full page devoted to these cute little candies. They began in 1847 when Oliver Chase invented a machine that cut lozenges from wafer candy. He built a candy factory and his brother, Daniel made a stamp that you could press into the candy with different sayings. At that time, the candies were made for weddings and had some unique sayings.  The heart-shaped candies that we know didn't get their start until 1901. Every year, Necco produces over 100,000 pounds of hearts each day from February through mid January.  In 1990, the company that owns the candies updated the sayings.

Curious to see what the updated sayings were, I bought a bag of Sweethearts. Now, I have an extremely busy life, but I decided I would write down all the sayings in that bag of candy. There were 56 different sayings, which I'm not going to bore you with here, but I'll give you the ones that I don't remember and thought were unique. So here they are: Game on, Reach 4 It, Race Me, Friend Me, Let's Ride, Hey Babe, Time 2 Dance, Shake It, UR Hot, UR It, Wink Wink, Soul Mate and Text Me! Glad to see the candy makers are keeping up with the times, though Race Me is kind of strange? Race me to the bedroom?

Receiving a Valentine is always fun and every year my husband gives me a sweet card, candy and or flowers. This day we all celebrate love with our significant others, our children and family. As Romance Readers and Writers, this day is made just for us and this year I decided to participate in a Valentine's Day anthology.

What if you grew up in a town called Cupid, Texas and you ran away when you were eighteen to keep the boy you love, from making the colossal mistake of marrying you? Now ten years later you're returning for your best-friend's wedding and will see him for the first time. Game on, in Cupid, Texas, where Wink Wink, UR Hot meets Soul Mate.

So what is your most memorable Valentine's Day? Was it flowers, candy or just a sweet card from the man who makes you smile and warms your heart?
Anyone who leaves a comment today, will have a chance to receive a free book.  If you sign up for the blog, you have not one but entries.  I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment.


Friday, February 1, 2013

In Honor of the Superbowl!

A Confession

I love Football! Shame on you, you were thinking I was going to confess something dirty.  Believe me Fifty Shades of Gray is not my life. But back to football. I could spend all day Saturday and Sunday watching football.  I would love to go to high school football games and watch the young players, the cheerleaders and the drill teams, but I don't.  Most weekends are spent either doing mundane chores around the house or writing. If the Denver Broncos or the Dallas Cowboys are playing I record the games and watch them later when my mind is fried, and I just need to veg.

My husband is not an avid sports fan. He would rather be outside working than sitting in front of a game. If the TV is on he'll watch football, but he is not the die-hard fan that I am. Driving back from San Angelo a couple of weeks ago, I turned the radio on and listened to the Dallas game in the car while we were driving. He was not impressed.

Some of my first memories are going to Mertzon, Texas, where my mother grew up and watching the game on Friday night. In a small town, if you can walk you go to the high school game and support the hometown boys. It's a place to visit with other people, pick up the latest gossip, sit outside and enjoy the fall breeze.

As I got older, I dreamed of being one of the girls who twirled the baton. I loved homecoming when everyone wore mums, and they crowned the king and queen at halftime. When I grew up, my school didn't have a baton twirler. In high school, my team was the worst in the city. But one night magic happened. We beat the cross town rivals, and the bleachers exploded with enthusiasm. I think it was the only game we won that year, but you would have thought we were on our way to the state championship.

I have watched the Dallas Cowboys since I was in junior high. Through the good years, the bad years, the Tom Landry years and now the Jerry Jones years. I remember when Texas Stadium was built and now Jerry's palace. I even remember Don Meredith being the quarterback. But it's not just the Dallas Cowboys I watch. I would watch every game if I had the time. I love the sound of the players when the ball snaps and they grapple trying to get to the ball. I love it when a player catches a great throw and runs up the field for a touchdown by outrunning all the men chasing him. I love it when a good runner sneaks in-between all those hard bodies and makes it up the field. It's just fun to watch.

It's the only sport that I honestly follow, and after the Superbowl, I always feel a little depressed as the season is over. So now it's your time to confess.  Do you love football and who do you think is going to win the Superbowl? 

For everyone who leaves a response, you'll be entered into a drawing for book that I give away at the end of the month.  If you sign up for my blog, you'll be given an ebook copy of A Hero's Heart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blog Hop 2013

Kick those resolutions to the curb and spend some time curled up with a good book.  The Plotting Princess Blog Hop is almost over and we hope you've enjoyed our hop to get the New Year started.

Below is my favorite cheese ball recipe.  My family loves everything spicy, so I always chop several jalapeño slices up and mix in to give this cheese ball a little zing. This is one of our favorite Super Bowl recipes and with the big game right around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to share.

Cheese Ball
1 8 oz. package cream cheese softened
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 cups chopped pecans
            Finely chopped jalapeño's -- this is optional.

Mix everything together except the pecans.  When you have the cheese ball formed and everything mixed together, then roll in the chopped pecans. I recommend that you let it sit overnight.  Serve with crackers.

To be eligible for the grand prize, be sure to leave a comment. I'm also giving away a copy of Wronged, but at the end of the hop, we're giving away a grand prize, which is an ebook/print book from every participating author.

There are still two more stops:
Thursday ~ Jan. 10th ~ Willa Blair (Guest Princess for a Day)
Friday ~ Jan. 11th ~ Lynn Rush (Guest Princess for a Day)

Three Wives One Dead Husband!

Below is an excerpt from my newest release, The Cuvier Widows -- Wronged. This series is about three women who all find out at the same time that they are married to the same man and he's dead.  But who killed Jean Cuvier? And how can these three women ever trust or find true love?

New Orleans, 1895
Marian Cuvier for years thought her husband kept a mistress and that her marriage to Jean Cuvier wasn’t worth the paper their marriage license was printed on. Still, the sight of the man she had spent the last twelve years of her life with—borne two children and made a home for—lying dead on the floor of a bedroom in the Chateau Hotel ripped a sob of anguish from her throat
"What happened?" she cried, her mind reeling with thoughts of her fatherless children wrenching her heart.
Policemen stood around the body in small groups, ceased their low whispers and glanced her direction, their gazes stern, but curious.
A man half-bent over Jean’s body turned and gazed at her, his dark eyes intense. "Who are you, Madame?"
"I’m his wife, Marian Cuvier," she said, starting to tremble from the shock of her husband’s death. His body lay twisted grotesquely on the floor, his skin an odd pinkish hue.
Oh God, no matter how much I hated him, I would never have wished him dead!
The man crouching over the body slowly rose to his full height, his brows drawn together in a frown. "His wife is sitting in the next room Madame."
"What?" she asked, not sure she heard him correctly. "I’m Marian Cuvier. I’m his wife. Who are you?"
"I’m detective Dunegan." He gave her a stem look and took her by the arm, leading her from the bedroom.
Unable to resist, she glanced back perhaps for the last time at the still form that long ago had been her lover, and of late an absent husband. She closed her eyes, the image of the handsome man she’d married twelve years ago foremost in her mind. When she opened her eyes she looked toward the detective, not at the corpse who’d never been a good husband.
"Madame, I will ask you again. Who are you? His wife is sitting in the next room."
Confusion rippled through her and she pulled away from the man as they entered the parlor. "That must be his mistress. I am Mrs. Jean Cuvier, we’ve been married for twelve years."
The hotel clerk, who earlier had summoned her from her house and brought her to the Chateau Hotel, cleared his throat to draw the detective’s attention. He leaned over and whispered something to the younger man who glanced again at Marian.
As if she were at a play, she watched from a distance as the scene unfolded before her, a sense of uneasiness holding her in its grip. The body lying on the floor of the bedroom looked like her husband, Jean, who was expected home today. She supposed the corpse littering the floor must be her cold-hearted husband, the man who had visited her bed fewer times than he had the church, which was almost never.
Detective Dunegan gazed at her, his expression one of bewilderment. "My apologies, Mrs. Cuvier. There seems to be some confusion. The hotel clerk confirmed you were indeed married to Mr. Cuvier. If you’re his wife, then, who is the woman who was with Mr. Cuvier?"

Monday, December 31, 2012

Reunion Stories

Contemporary Romance - Reunion Stories
Do you love a good reunion story? Recently a lady at my day job, whose husband had passed away, was contacted by a man she dated in high school. They went out to dinner, caught up on what had happened to them in the last forty years. During dinner, he told her after high school graduation, he went into the military. On his first leave, he intended to ask her to marry him and become an army wife. Eager to reunite with her, he went to her home, only to learn she'd married and moved to California.  Now forty years later, they are dating and are engaged to be married.

A good reunion story always has built in conflict. Maybe they were attracted, but one wasn't ready for a commitment. Maybe something is keeping them from being together, like a parent or a job or location. Maybe there's a secret that can't be revealed at the moment, but years later they're ready to deal with the problem.

In any sub-genre of romance, you can use reunion stories. In contemporary romance, they are often used for the secret baby plot, mistaken identity or something brings them back to the small town where they grew up where the hero/heroine still resides. These are some of the standard plot lines used in contemporary romance. If you take this plot line, add an unusual twist, along with strong writing skills, you're a candidate for Harlequin/Silhouette.

Small contemporary romance is usually a quick read. The story is fast-paced, and in the 250 pages, you have to take your characters from dislike with interest to madly in love and ready for their happily ever-after. Your conflict should be strong, yet resolvable in those short pages.

How many of us have thought about old boyfriends and wondered if we saw them today, would we consider them? My first love in high school was a boy who broke my heart. Today, he's been married five times, and I thank my lucky stars we parted ways. 

With reunion books, there is built in sexual attraction. Most of the time, they've been intimate with one another and remember what it was like to be with that person.  And usually, some significant conflict tore them apart.

In My Sister's Boyfriend, she traded places with her twin sister and went out on a date with her sister's boyfriend. Things went further than she intended that night and she gave him her virginity in the back seat of his Mustang. Now fifteen years later, she comes face-to-face with him once again. Will he 
realize it was her all those years ago and not her sister?

So do you enjoy reunion stories as much as I do? Tell me some of your favorites.