Friday, September 18, 2015

Gratitude Post #14 - My Writing Buddies

On a long drive home from a writers' conference in Atlanta, four of us came up with the idea -- a collection of stories in several genres, covering a long period of time, but revolving around a single enchanted gemstone, a magical emerald. The Jewel Box Authors were born.  Charmed by an Emerald was to be our first venture.

The collaboration was great. We picked each others' brains, bounced ideas off one another, supported other releases we all had along the journey as well as life events in the process.

Working with a group of such talented ladies was energizing, and just plain fun. The finished product is something every one of us is proud of.

When time came to start planning the second book, we decided to go with a ruby. Next up - Charmed by a Ruby. You can expect to see that book released in the spring of 2016. I can't wait. Working with some talented ladies who happen to be my friends is such an awesome experience.

Very soon I will share the cover of Charmed by a Ruby. As I write this, I am working on formatting that book. And it's going to be great!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gratitude Post #13 - My Street Team

My very own Wenches! Yeah, it's okay for me to call them that. What are Wenches? According the dictionary, a wench is merely a young woman -- a lively or buxom one. But for our purpose here, we're talking about Wynter's Wenches, a group of dedicated women who help me with promoting my books. And let me tell you, they are the absolute best! 

If you're not sure what a Street Team is, allow me to enlighten you. It's a group of people who, out of the goodness of their heart, pimp a writer's work. They are not paid, although the author does often give them incentives like contests in which they can win books, gift cards or other prizes. But for the most part, they do what they do because they enjoy the writer's work. They share news and events, and generally spread the word about the authors books. And I am extremely blessed and profoundly grateful to have the most awesome team out there! 

How great are they? Well, when I had a personal crisis last year that coincided with a book release, the wonderful lady who serves as the 'team captain' for lack of a better term, stepped up and ran a release week promo campaign. She is supremely amazing, and a person for whom I am especially grateful. 

So I raise a mug to my very own Wenches. You ladies rock!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Gratitude Post #12 - My Country

I'm so glad that we have holidays like Memorial Day, a time to stop and reflect on just how fortunate we are as Americans that we live in a place where we have the right to vote, the right to protest when we see injustice, where we won't be tossed into a jail cell and forgotten for speaking out against policies we don't like.

It's hard to believe that there are still many places where such things take place, yet much of the world's population lives under that type of governmental control.

Thanks to the sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces, we have so many freedoms today. Certainly, our democracy isn't a perfect one, but it's a hell of a lot better than most. So I'm supremely grateful for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep the United States safe and secure.

At 3 pm local time today, please take a minute to reflect on those who died in military service to this country. It's the least we can do.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gratitude Post #11 - My Garden

I should really title this post, "My Husband's Garden," because he is the one who grows everything in it. All I do is water it sometimes, and enjoy the scenery.

When we moved in to our house eleven years ago, the backyard was nothing but a pool surrounded by patches of dirt and a few weeds. It stayed that way for about five years. Until one day when hubby got the notion to make it into something special.

First he landscaped the area around the pool, digging out the massive overgrowth of mother-in-law tongues. Then he started buying plaster benches from a local woman as we could afford them. Bit by bit, he added ornamentals and shrubs, raised beds for seasonal vegetables came next. Then he tried his hand at building arches out of recovered lumber.

When we'd have people over, they started marveling at his work. Since it came together so slowly, I didn't realize how incredible it was until one day I stepped back and took it all in. He'd made a fire circle surrounded by benches and reclaimed fence panels around the edges that created an intimacy. We'd hung colored wine bottles from the trees (something I saw in a movie) which gave the whole yard a magical feel. We... rather than tell you how awesome it is, I'll show you with pictures. It's something for which I am grateful every day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gratitude Post #10 - The Diversity of my Community

One of the things I love most about living in a large city with a thriving tourism industry is the fact that it makes my community a bit of a melting pot of cultures.

We have an Asian section of the city, another that's primarily Hispanic, and some spots that are mostly black. But those cultures mix into the fabric of the society as a whole. And that's the way I like it.

Now, being in the south, we do still have a couple of those antiquated institutions, like a country club that doesn't allow any black or non-Christian members. That stuff makes me cringe, but I do my best to ignore it, and hope that the ignorance that perpetuates such things will end soon.

I enjoy that my city has a wide range of religious institutions, not just the regular Christian churches, but there are also Jewish synagogues, mosques, Hindi and Buddhist temples, Pagan and Unitarian churches. We have a blending of styles and cultures. And that is important when you consider that people come in all shapes, sizes and beliefs.

So one of the things I am thankful for is my community's diversity in so many ways.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gratitude Post #9 - Volunteer Work

About a year ago, I learned that two of my friends were tutors for our local adult literacy association. I was familiar with the organization because I'd been involved with several book signings over the years that had benefited the charity. But for one reason or another, I hadn't investigated what it would take to become a tutor. Time was an issue, I'm not the most patient person, plus it just never occurred to me that volunteering was something somebody my age did. I figured that was a pursuit I'd look into when I was closer to 'retirement age.'

But I'm so glad that I took my friends' suggestion and signed up for volunteer training and began my journey to becoming a reading tutor to a learning-disabled adult. Watching my student grow in confidence and ability is so rewarding, and that's a part of the experience I'd never anticipated.

Not only does the tutoring help my student, but it enriches my life in a way I can't really put into words. Every time we finish up a session, I have a sense of inner satisfaction, as if I've served a purpose greater than myself. Each new milestone for my student is not only a triumph for her, but it's a warm fuzzy for me. And it's one more thing in my life for which I am deeply, surprisingly grateful. I highly recommend the experience of volunteering. Do something you care about, give to others, and you'll end up giving a lot more to yourself.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gratitude Post #8 - My Life

I almost died a few weeks ago. There's nothing like a brush with the grim reaper to push your gratitude meter into uncharted territory.

What I assumed was a bad intestinal flu turned out to be diverticulitis, which led to a GI bleed that very quickly caused me to lose more than half my blood. Had my husband not been home with me, I'd have tried to ride it out. He, on the other hand, called 911, which was the thing to do. By the time I arrived in the ER, I needed a transfusion of four units of blood. That's a lot.

I spent the next four days in the hospital in sub-acute care, hooked up to antibiotics and gradually transitioning from no liquids at all to ice chips, to clear liquids to full liquids. It took two days for the bleeding to stop, and I'm still working on getting my strength back to a hundred percent.

My wonderful husband spent every day there with me. I had to kick him out each night after midnight so he'd save his own strength and get some rest and a shower. My kids came to visit, as well as a couple relatives and one of our close friends. A few others offered, but I declined since I really did need to rest.

After I got home, three of my dear friends either came by the house or sent flowers. Others called with offers of help. I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude for those wonderful friends.

But the other night, as I lay in bed, I started thinking about two of my other friends. Both of these women knew that I'd been in the hospital since they'd Liked or commented on Facebook posts. They also knew about the other, way more devastating event in my life last year -- the death of my father. Yet neither of them bothered to call or send a card then or now.

Maybe I'm being petty here, but I've done things for those two 'friends.' I've made donations to charities they requested when they've lost relatives, sent cards, called in times of need and even cooked meals and sent gifts for their big life events, the births, and graduations of their children. Yet they have done none of those things for me in my times of need. Not a card, a phone call, an offer of help, nothing. Only a line of sympathy on Facebook. Big freaking deal. I know everyone's busy, but seriously!

So maybe it's time to cull the friendship roster in my life. After all, like I said, I have a lot of wonderful, amazing friends, whom I love dearly. Friends who show through their words AND their actions that they care.

Yes, I am infinitely grateful for my life, my family and my friends. My true friends. I now know who those are. There's another huge life lesson, for which I'm also thankful. It's sometimes in the darkest hours that things become the most clear.

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Release and Giveaway!!

It's finally here! My collection of six super hot stories that includes some of my all-time favorites.

Shades of Sexy features TWO!!! menage a trois books, Customer Service and Overexposed, as well as a bondage tale, Belle Behind Bars, which has a corrections officer hero. (Did you know that Mr. Daniels is a corrections officer?)

Also in this collection is Horsing Around, my one and only cowboy tale. Then there's Rude, Nude and Socially Unacceptable, which features a biker hero. Last, but not least, there's Getting Even with Warren, a story about a widow who learns of her husband's affairs after his death and plans a delicious way to get her revenge.

If any of these stories sound appealing, just enter the Rafflecopter below to win your own copy!

*** a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gratitude Post #7 - Great Role Models

The world would be a better place if everyone had people they could look up to who embodied values like honesty, honor and personal responsibility. I was so fortunate to have been raised in a family full of such people.

My father embodied all of these traits, and his death last year rocked me to my core. But he left a valuable legacy to me, my sisters and all of our children. Although he grew up in a world of privilege, he had a strong work ethic and we were expected to excel in school. Dishonesty was never tolerated, and both my parents taught by the examples they set -- lessons like showing respect to their own parents, community involvement, and being politically and socially aware.

My mother attended college in an era when not many women did so, and even completed her degree after having two children and losing her first husband to cancer in her twenties. She's been a lifelong activist who, even at eighty, is ready to go to battle for things she believes.

Our society seems to be lacking good role models these days. Kids look to Hollywood instead of their own living room, school or community to find people to emulate. I wish more people had parents like I did. The world might be a better place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gratitude Post #6 - My Man

At the very top of my list of things that I'm grateful for, is my husband. Yeah, I know it's corny and probably sickeningly sweet, but it's true. I couldn't post this on Valentine's Day since I'd committed to do a special Scavenger Hunt post (and because that would somehow lump it in with everyone else's lovefests), but since this time is right between that day and coming up upon our anniversary, what better time?

Maybe because I have one of those exceptionally wonderful relationships, I can spot them in other couples. And more frequently, I can sense when they are not so good. I've come to the conclusion that that the symbiotic spark my guy and I share is a rare flower, a gift that we both treasure, because we understand how truly unusual it is.

What works for us certainly wouldn't work for everyone, but we fit together perfectly. And this March, we'll have been married for twenty-five years. And not only do we still love each other, but we still genuinely like each other. I'm thinking that in this day and age of disposable everything, that's something pretty special.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Scavenger Hunt!

Coffee Time Romance Valentine’s Blog Post

The Grand Gesture

In romance novels, when all appears to be lost, the hero often does what’s known as ‘the grand gesture,’ which is basically a big, last-ditch appeal to win back his lover. This could be anything from giving up his inheritance to risking his life, to revealing the details of a long-kept family secret. The point is, it must be something that costs the hero a lot, be that emotionally, physically, or in some other way. And it has to mean something important to the heroine, enough to hopefully sway her over to agreeing to give their love another shot.
Since Valentine’s Day is the day for lovers, it’s only fitting to talk about those romantic gestures. In my latest book, THE SURROGATE HUSBAND, Dex makes such a gesture, not even realizing the effect it will have on Lucy.
In the real world, people often use the occasion of Valentine’s Day to grandstand a bit, to proclaim their undying love and devotion to their mate, sometimes by spending way too much money. Early in our relationship, my guy did that sort of thing to the tune of break-the-bank level!
Now that we’ve been married for a long time, he’s learned that those grand gestures don’t require any money at all. That’s not what they are all about. And frankly, he’s learned how to do this so well, that I have to brag on him. The man has figured out how to turn on the romance without spending a penny. What does he do? One year he drew a huge heart on our picture window with our names inside. Another time he made a similar picture on the windows of my car. There was another Valentine’s Day when he came to my workplace with a special lunch and served it to me on our finest China.
He’s such a romantic that he regularly writes sweet notes on my Facebook page. My friends get a kick out of it, and ask where they can find such an awesome guy.
I tell them that first you have to know what you’re looking for. Read a few romance novels, figure out what it is you’re searching for. There are bits and pieces of my man in every hero I write. How could I not have become a romance writer with a romantic guy like that?
When I get to the part of the book where the grand gesture comes, I love it when I can write that part in a way that involves no monetary cost. No giving up the inheritance, or the lottery money, just a gesture that comes straight from the heart. The kind that means the most.
What was the most meaningful Valentine’s Day gift you ever received? I’ll pick one commenter to win an electronic copy of THE SURROGATE HUSBAND on February 12.

Lucy Hamilton’s mother assures her great aunt on the old woman’s deathbed that confirmed bachelorette Lucy has eloped, in order to make the dying woman happy. When the unexpected happens and Aunt Bev recovers, Lucy must suddenly find a man to play her husband for a family wedding.  
The last woman that straight-laced accountant Dex Levian should pretend to be involved with is his sexy new client, Lucy, especially with the upcoming sale of his firm to a man who frowns upon mixing business with pleasure. But what red-blooded guy would turn down the opportunity to spend a romantic weekend with the sexiest woman in South Beach? When their charade starts becoming all too real, the consequences might be more than they are willing to bear.

Hi folks.
Here’s what you need to do to WIN: Comment below to be entered to win a download of THE SURROGATE HUSBAND. Then write down the word in the picture – you’ll need it on the last day of the scavenger hunt to be in to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® 7.0!,
Head back to the Coffee Time And More Website to read the next post and find the next clue!
Good luck!

***WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT*** I picked Elisa Difino in a random drawing as my winner. Please contact me via my website,

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gratitude Post #5 - Solitude

I've had times in my life when there's been too much of it. Those were lonely days, but it's been many years since I've experienced them.

These days are about finding enough hours in my schedule for family, friends, work, writing buds, spiritual pursuits, and everything else I want to do. Then there's all the stuff I have to do -- the medical appointments, errands I must run, all the little things in life that suddenly come up. They take up a lot of time.

Spending time with myself -- time I like to use to meditate, to take hot baths or to just decompress -- that time is always in short supply. But it's moments that I'm incredibly thankful for whenever I can grab it. The sounds of silence are blessedly welcome to my soul since day-to-day life can be so chaotic.

So I have no qualms about encouraging my husband and daughter to go watch a football game at a friend's house. I hate football. But more importantly, I adore a little solitude. I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gratitude Post #4 - My Friends

I feel so damn fortunate to have the friends that I do.

When I was a young child, I was shy and a bit of a misfit, and friends were hard to come by. But in junior high, I met Maryann, and we became inseparable, talking on the phone for hours every night after spending all day together at school.

In high school there was Erica and Sarah, Jon and Kenny. I'd found my niche and come out of my shell. By the time I started college, I was a social butterfly, and my dorm room was a hub of activity, constantly buzzing with conversation, much to my studious roommate's chagrin!

From that point on, I've always had a lot of friends -- close friends. Because I think I'm the kind of person that other people easily trust. Many friends have told me that I missed my calling in life -- that I should have become a psychologist.

But the truth is, I'm just a good listener. I'm empathetic. And when I'm there for my friends, they are there for me when I need them. Through each phase of my adult life, I've made and kept friends, and now I'm so lucky to have a very large and diverse group of wonderful people to call my buds.

They began as my college housemates, clients I first met when I owned a salon, couples we got to know when our kids were small, other writers I met at my local writers' group, folks we've met in the past few years in our spiritual pursuits, each one has enriched my life. And in total, the friendships in my life are something for which I am profoundly grateful. They color my life with so many hues, and prop me up when I sag.

Thank you, friends. I don't know where I'd be without you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gratitude Post # 3 - Great Editors

They can make or break a book. And they are hugely important to the final version.

Before I became an author, I had no idea how incredibly vital the role of an editor was. But with each book I write, with each editor I work with, I learn something new.

On my latest book, The Surrogate Husband, I ended up working with working with three different ones in turn, for various reasons. The last one—who happens to be a fabulous writer herself—gave the book a wonderful polish and shine for which I am infinitely grateful.

From her I learned so much more than I'd ever known before about the complexities of the relationship between the hero and heroine's goals and conflicts. Just working with her on that one book was truly eye opening.

During the time when I was writing for Ellora's Cave, I wrote twenty books for them, all with the same editor. Believe it or not, I learned something new each time. That might not have been a huge thing, but there was always some nugget of information that I gleaned from her edits, something I hadn't known before.

So my group of editors is something I am very grateful for. for which I am very grateful. They stop me from ending sentences with prepositions ;-) and more than that, they make me the best writer that I can be. Thank you Tracy, Shannon, Alicia, Joyce, and all the rest.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Gratitude Post #2 - Good Health

It's certainly not perfect, but it is something for which I'm now infinitely grateful. As I write this, I'm sitting in a recliner chair with built-in heat and massage functions, a lot like those fancy chairs at nail salons. But I'm not having a pedicure. Far from it.

A needle pierces my left arm, secured there with bright green tape, because today I'm getting my first iron infusion for a recently diagnosed genetic disorder, a condition that left me severely anemic for several months, but thankfully, something that's easily treatable with a once yearly five-hour treatment.

I'm way more fortunate than most of the patients I've seen coming and going here. Because the place where I must get my medicine is a chemotherapy center.

An irrational guilty feeling prickles at my skin all day. Most of the patients are hooked up for less than two hours, while my cocktail takes much longer to deliver, so I've witnessed many drawn faces, lots of weak, cancer-ravaged bodies. But I'm pleased to note that more than half the patients appear healthy. And every staff person I've encountered has an exceptionally sunny disposition.

I wonder if I could keep the sadness from getting to me if I had this job. My nurse tells me she's learned to compartmentalize.

So this gratitude lesson is a biggie. I'm so very grateful for my health, and the health of those I love. After months of tests and not knowing, imagining the worst, I have something that's really a non-issue most of the time.

A wise man I know told me that when crises come up, we deal with them, whatever they are. Living your life is experiencing the stuff that happens along the journey without getting bogged down and dwelling on all the worry of what will be. That's a lesson I'm trying to take to heart.

Just a thought... Cherish every day, every moment.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Gratitude Post #1 - My Writing Community

This year I plan to blog about all the wonderful things I have in my life, in no particular order. Honestly, I wouldn't be a writer today had it not been for the wonderful group of women I met so many years ago.

I'd been playing at writing for many years—starting and stopping, composing poems and essays, working on bad autobiographical pieces—when I met fellow Girl Scouts mom Nancy Robards Thompson, who had just published her first book. She convinced me to go with her to the next meeting of the local Romance Writers of America chapter meeting.

Honestly, I'd have never gone if Nancy hadn't prodded me. But at the first meeting, the members were so warm and friendly, and I learned so much. A whole new world opened up to me. Soon I had my first critique partner.

It wasn't long before I saw a huge positive change in my stories. I went to a small writers' conference the following year and met agents and editors and went to dozens of workshops that taught me even more. It wasn't long before I was offered my first contract.

I have no doubt that my original critique partners, and those that came after, as well as my RWA chapter and RWA in general were instrumental in building my career. I'm so grateful to that community, and to Nancy, for introducing me to the world of romance writing. It's one of the things for which I am most grateful.

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