Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hold On To Me--Guest Stacey Joy Netzel--Plus Giveaway!

Please help me welcome Stacey Joy Netzel, a wonderful author and a lovely person who writes truly heartwarming romance!

Hello everyone, and a huge thanks to Mary for having me on the blog today!

I was born and raised in small town Wisconsin. Since I still live there, and the ‘general’ rule is to write what you know, I absolutely love whenever Donna Marie Rogers and I add to our Welcome to Redemption series. Today I’d like to share an excerpt with you from book 8, HOLD ON TO ME, released January 2013.

As a thank you for reading (and hopefully picking up a copy *wink*), I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of the Welcome to Redemption Series Collection, Books 1-6 to one lucky winner. Make sure to leave your email and preferred ereader with your comment so I know where to gift the WTR Collection to.

Because they were released together, I’ll give you the blurb for Book 7, Never Let Me Go,  written by my series co-author, Donna Marie Rogers.

Sheriff Chase Lowell has never been more scared in his life than when he discovers the diner where Hannah Porter works has been robbed at gunpoint. He’s been in love with her for as long as he can remember, but has kept his feelings in check because she’s his best friend’s little sister.

Hannah has had a crush on Chase since she was in the third grade. He’s kind, compassionate, and as handsome as they come. They’ve known each other forever, which seems to be the problem—he thinks of her more as a kid sister rather than a romantic interest.
But something changes the night he races into the diner and crushes her in his arms. When he makes her safety his personal mission, Hannah decides to make it her mission to get him to see her in a different light.

The two books overlap slightly at the end, and as with all our WTR books, these two share a scene told from our own character’s point of view. (Just like 1&2, 3&4, ect.)

The WTR series features heartwarming stories of second chances and redemption—something my characters Jenny and Grant never thought they’d get. I hope you enjoy!

HOLD ON TO ME, Book 8, by Stacey Joy Netzel

After escaping an abusive ex-husband, Jenny Clark focuses on making ends meet from one day to the next. Then she meets her new apartment building manager, and the passion in his kisses dare her to believe she could have a second chance at love.

At a crossroads in his life, Grant Walker returns from New York to manage his apartment building in Redemption. He didn’t expect to meet the woman of his dreams and find everything he never knew he wanted in small town Wisconsin.

But someone doesn’t want either of them to be happy, and even as menacing acts of vandalism pull Jenny and Grant closer together, a harbored secret could destroy all hope of their happily ever after.


“Thank you for the ride.”

She turned to face him at her door. At first, Grant anticipated a kiss. On the verge of leaning in, it dawned on him the closed door meant she wasn’t prepared to invite him in. Not to mention, she stared at his chest as her fingers curled tight on the straps of the canvas bag slung over her shoulder.

Disappointment left a bitter taste in his mouth, but he understood, and refused to push no matter how much he wanted to. He’d realized this afternoon his feelings for her had leapfrogged friendship the same day he’d fixed her closet, yet it was so much more than physical attraction. He cared for and respected her too much to rush her into something she clearly wasn’t ready for.

“I’m exhausted after getting up so early this morning,” he told her. “Think I’ll watch a little TV and hit the sack early.”

Her gaze rose to his, her relief confirming she knew exactly what he was doing and appreciated the gesture. Careful not to startle her, he lifted his hand to brush his knuckles across her cheek. Her skin was so soft, he wanted to continue the caress instead of returning his hand to his side.

“Enjoy your bath and get a good night’s sleep.”

“You, too.”

Fat chance of that, he thought as he walked away.

His foot hit the third stair when Jenny’s scream rang out. He spun around so fast he tripped at the top before righting himself to race down the hall, heart pounding impossibly fast in his chest.

Jenny met him halfway, rushing headlong into his arms as her breath caught on a sob. He hugged her tight, gaze trained on her open door. “What’s the matter?”

She sucked in a breath, her body trembling against his. “S-someone was in there.”

Alarm doubled. “Are they still there?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so. It’s trashed. E-everything. It’s a complete m-mess.”

Grant kept his arm around her as they walked toward her apartment. The door across from hers opened, and Mr. Edwards stuck his head out. Grant had made it a point to check-in and introduce himself to each tenant, and he’d met the older gentleman yesterday.

“What’s all the ruckus about?”

“Someone broke into Jenny’s apartment, Mr. Edwards. Did you hear anything?”

“No, I had the television on. I only heard her now because I was about to take Seymour out for a walk.”

A little, copper-colored dachshund danced through the opening and barked a few times at them before tugging on his leash toward the stairs.

Grant turned to Jenny, who still clutched her bag. “Call 911 and get the cops over here. I’m going to make sure no one is still in there.”

A shudder shook her shoulders. “Be careful.”

Grant cast the impatient dog a glance before lifting his gaze to Mr. Edwards. “Can you stay with Jenny until I come back out?”

“Seymour might mess in the hall,” Mr. Edwards warned.

“That’s the least of my concerns,” Grant muttered before stepping through Jenny’s door.

She was right, the place was totaled. It was a studio apartment, so it didn’t take long to search behind the door, in the closet, and the bathroom and determine the intruder was long gone. As he surveyed the extensive damage, fear that Jenny could’ve been there at the time of the break-in gave way to boiling anger.

A noise behind him spun him around to see Jenny hovering inside the entry. Phone in hand, she gestured toward the hall.

“Seymour couldn’t wait and the police are on the way. Did you find anything?”

“Whoever it was, they’re long gone.”

“I figured you wouldn’t find him.”

“Him?” Grant frowned, and yet he suspected he knew exactly who she meant.

“Roy.” Her gaze tracked over shattered dishes, upended couch cushions, overturned chairs, and a tipped over book case. The books were ripped to shreds, cushions slit, clothes torn and cut into pieces so they were no longer wearable. Her closet darkroom was torn apart, photo paper destroyed and developing bins broken. Tears filled her eyes. “All my photography supplies are ruined. The pictures I was going to show Tara and Wes…I can’t even develop the ones I took today.”

“You’re sure it was Roy?”

Moisture spilled over her lashes onto her cheeks. Her expression tightened and she dashed the tears away with an angry swipe of her hand. “Who else would do this?”

The feeling from the other day, that she wasn’t telling him everything, resurfaced. He held out his hands, palms up. “Why, Jenny? The divorce is final, so why would he destroy pretty much everything you own now?”

“Because he’s that much of a vindictive bastard.”

“I believe you on that one, but there’s still more to it, isn’t there?”

Her gaze flew to his, eyes widening in surprise.

“This is a message.”

She folded one arm across her stomach, bracing her elbow on that arm as she covered her mouth as if to keep the answer inside. Grant stepped over the broken items between them, but she turned her back to him. Her muscles tensed under the weight of his hands on her shoulders.

“What does he want?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

His fingers tightened ever so slightly, letting her know he didn’t believe her. Giving her the chance to tell him the truth. “You told Charlie you trusted me.”

“I do.”

“Then tell me what Roy wants.”

“I can’t,” she whispered. “Not yet. I need some time to think about everything.”

His gut tightened. Damn, what the hell is going on?

Movement in his peripheral vision drew his attention to the door. Sheriff Chase Lowell entered, along with another uniformed officer. As their gazes took in the destruction, he recognized the guy who’d met with the sheriff in Hutch’s last week.

Grant leaned forward, pressing his lips close to Jenny’s ear. “I suggest you think fast.”



...a small town in Northeast Wisconsin where second chances don’t always come easy, but if you’re willing to try, anything is possible.

“With their easy, breezy style and skilled characterizations, Rogers and Netzel have created a town that readers won't want to leave.” ~ Romantic Times Book Reviews

You can pick up your copy of HOLD ON TO ME, book 8 here:

For Book 7 and the entire collection, visit your favorite e-tailer: Amazon, BN, Kobo, SW

And don’t forget to comment with email and ereader format for your chance to win the Welcome to Redemption Series Collection, Books 1-6. Comment through Thursday, winner will be announced on Friday. All you have to do is tell me:

What’s your favorite book setting? You can be as specific or general as you like.

Thank you and Happy Reading!

Stacey Joy Netzel

Award-winning author Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her the graduation to writing them was natural. An avid reader and fan of movies with a happily ever after, she is thrilled to call herself a full-time writer after 20 years as a travel agent. She writes romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and the occasional paranormal romance short story. Colorado is one of her favorite settings for her books, followed closely by Wisconsin and Italy.

She lives in her native Wisconsin with her husband and three children, a couple horses and some barn cats. In her limited free time she enjoys gardening, canning, and visiting her parents in Northeastern Wisconsin (Up North) at the family cabin on the lake.

Website and Blog:  http://www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

God of Fyre Mountain--Guest Renee Wildes--Plus GIVEAWAY!

I met the wonderful Renee Wildes at my first WisRWA conference when I was a publishing noob and shaking in my boots, and she enfolded me in her enthusiasm and kindness. All that and a great storyteller, too. Each tale in her Guardians of Light series is a gem, but I gotta tell you, I think this book is my new favorite :) Please welcome Renee!
It’s release day for GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN, my newest fantasy romance from Samhain Publishing. First off, I wanted to thank the incomparable Mary Hughes for having me here today. To say I am a huge fan of this lady is a vast understatement, and I am truly honored that she invited me to her cyber-home to share Maili’s and Dax’s story.

God of Fyre Mountain is a twofold story. On the surface it’s a classic adventure story. Exotic locale threatened by a natural disaster and displaced characters trying to return home to stop a royal assassination. Volcanoes are fascinating, awe-inspiring. They create and destroy—truly the power of the gods. They’re dramatic, spectacular, and each one is unique. They are Mother Nature’s ultimate statement of just how small we mortal folk really are. I think they’re beautiful and glorious—in a photo and from a distance. But they can wipe out paradise in the blink of an eye. Just talk to Pompeii. Oh wait, we can’t…

But it’s also the story of the fight between one’s own hopes & dreams against family & society expectations. Like me being the only vet tech in a family of nurses. Like my son coming from a long line of NAVY—and wanting to join the (insert *GASP* here) AIR FORCE. (I totally blame Stargate on this one.)

Princess Maili’s future was set in stone, dictated by her autocratic family—marry the local village bully so he’ll lead their warriors against the enemy Kali. But she dreams of another and dares to hope for a miracle. She’s traded like a chicken to the terrifying fyre god, in order to prevent the end of her world. But Afu’s nothing like she’s imagined. He’s the first person in her life to ask her what SHE wants—and she dares to imagine things might be different than she’d been led to believe.

If Mt. Veamalohi would just go back to sleep, everything would be perfect.

Worst case of mistaken identity EVER…

Guardians of Light, Book 6

As a teacher, Maili is adept at juggling multiple tasks, but this is ridiculous. Erotic dreams make her sleep anything but restful. Her father wants to marry her off to a neighboring chieftain’s son. Her grandmother’s whispered blasphemy about doubting the gods has the local volcano threatening to split wide open.

As she prays in the temple for mercy on her grandmother, Maili expects the mountain to smoke and rumble. She doesn’t expect Afu himself to pop through a dark fissure and squash her flat.

The last thing Dax remembers is vowing to prevent his queen’s assassination. He wakes up in an island paradise, where the primitive natives worship the statue of a troll named Afu. And they expect him—their fyre god incarnate—to stop their cranky volcano from blowing up. As an incentive, they’ve given him a maiden sacrifice/bride, a dark-eyed beauty who’s just as determined to seduce him as he is to return home in one piece.

While she’s less than thrilled to be traded like a chicken, one thing is certain. Dax is the man in her dreams…and she’s hell bent on making them come true. Or her people may die.

Warning: Contains erotic dreams, volcanic-hot love scenes, one edgy F/F interrogation scene and some self-loving. Also treason, black sorcery and an evil witch doctor who shrinks heads.

Maili opened her eyes and pushed herself up, hissing from the pain as her wrist protested.

Afu growled, eyes blazing as he stared at her bruises. “Who?”

Maili swallowed at the menace pulsing from his too-still body. Words failed her.

“Who?” His deep voice was a clap of thunder. “Tell me who did this to you.”

Once the floor stopped spinning, she drank, wishing there was more. “Th-Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” His eyes still flared an eerie red. “Now answer my question.”

She frowned, trying not to notice all those muscles rippling under a vast expanse of scarred, dusky skin. She heard the words in her mind, but his lips formed other shapes. Lotus-petal wine didn’t do that. “You’re not saying the words right. How can I understand you?”

“We connected in your dreams.”

That sounded godlike enough.

“Who hurt you? Those are recent. Give me his name.”

He was like a river dragon with a bone.

“P-Pilipo.” She closed her eyes in dread, then gasped as Afu raised her arm. His lips barely brushed the tender skin of her bruised wrist, the caress like the touch of a butterfly’s wings, like a whisper. She shivered at the unexpected tingle that zinged through her.

“Maili, look at me.”

She couldn’t refuse. His eyes were nearly black; sorrow warred with rage.

No one has the right to do that. Not to you, not to anyone.”

“I-I was to be his, until you arrived. He doesn’t like being”—she fumbled for the right word—“thwarted.”

“That doesn’t give him the right to take his anger out on you.” Afu glowered. “Your father did naught to intervene?”

“Acourse not. A betrothed’s rule replaces a father’s authority.”

“But not a chieftain’s?”

“A chief doesn’t interfere in personal relationships. It’s beneath him.”

“Unbelievable.” A muscle ticked in his jaw. “I should strangle them both.”

Her eyes widened. How to calm a demon-god whose wrath melted rocks and flung fyre?

To celebrate this new release, God of Fyre Mountain, I thought we’d go back to where Dax’s story began. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Dust of Dreams. Thank you for sharing this very special day with us.
Comment through Friday, January 25, 2013. Include your email if you'd like Renee to contact you directly if you win. Winner announced by Renee Saturday, January 26.

Buy at Samhain, Amazon, BN, Kobo  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

72-hour Contest--two winners!

The first chapter of Biting Oz is at D. Renee Bagby Presents First Chapters today! Know someone who wants to try the Biting Love series? Now's the time. Two winners will receive their choice of one ebook from my backlist  (not including Biting Oz or Edie and the CEO).

This contest runs through January 18, 2013 1:29 AM EST--so visit soon!

DRB's 1st Chapters

3T Writing Tidbit

I've been published since 2009 but I've been writing for a lot longer. Over the years I've accumulated various items of wisdom from all over. Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit will showcase these items one at a time in no particular order.

Set up an expectation--and then twist it.

We've all heard of ways to surprise or engage the reader. Make it a question, make it matter more to the point of view character, make it a confrontation.

Here's something that I think is new. The author has control, not only over the twist, but over the expectation. That's right. So often we think we have to be clever coming up with a new twist. Sometimes it's easier to work backwards. Decide on the thing you want to have happen--then start your characters out wanting the opposite or something different, or have them have to work to get there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

About Bullying--Guest Lisa Whitefern!

Last Christmas a special education professor named Dr. George Giuliani created a bit of a stir online when he accused the 1964 television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” of promoting bullying.

Part of Giuliani’s argument was that the story of Rudolph suggests victims of bullying and people with disabilities must do something extraordinary if they want to expect the bullying to stop.

Well maybe Giuliani does have something of a point, however as a bullied child I found the song and story comforting, exciting and magical.

cute 1960s RudolphThe way I saw the story-it was telling people who were picked on that they could surprise everyone someday with their achievements. That story of the underdog’s surprising achievements is as traditional and popular as the story of Cinderella, and as contemporary as Harry Potter.

Wicked Wonderland smallWhen I wrote Wicked Wonderland  I wanted to write an erotic romance with the magic and excitement of a children’s Christmas movie, and Wicked Wonderland is a re-telling of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the difference being that in my menage romance the heroine gets to fly around the world in Santa’s Sleigh with two very sexy half-fae men.

Here is an excerpt from Wicked Wonderland in which my heroine Lilly Rudolph is bullied.
The icy December winds whipped around them, stinging Lilly’s face, but the night sky was clear and full of stars. The cold bit through her flimsy costume, and her teeth chattered audibly. Sonya stopped by the trash cans, holding Lilly tightly around the waist from behind. Kandy grabbed hold of the chiffon on the front of her angel costume. Lilly shook and twisted violently to try to break their grasp, and part of her angel costume tore. “Let go of me, you assholes!” She jabbed backward with her elbow, connecting with Sonya’s stomach, and heard the taller stripper gasp with momentary pain, but unfortunately, Sonya didn’t loosen her hold. “Oooooh! Rudolph’ll pay double for that!” Kandy exclaimed.

Lilly didn’t know why she did it. Maybe it was a way of dissociating from a horrible situation, maybe it was because her heart always ached to make music when she was in pain, but she began to hum, the sound starting low in her throat. She closed her eyes and played a flute in her head, filling her mind with a rich and clear melody, which, for a moment, took her right out of her nasty situation. Then a vicious pinch froze the sound in her lungs. Lilly twisted around enough to look up at Sonya. Something frightening had happened to Sonya’s face. It became very still, and the stripper’s eyes narrowed into slits that showed too much amber and almost no pupil, like the eyes of a snake or some other reptile. A sharp chill ran up Lilly’s spine.

“Don’t fucking hum.” Sonya spat out the words.

“Who cares if she hums? She’s just a weirdo,” Bambi interrupted. “I don’t care what she does as long as she doesn’t take our money again.” The words of the other stripper somehow returned everything to relative normality.

I must have been imaging the whole thing. Must have been the cold messing with my brain.

“You steal our tips, Rudolph, and I’ll give you a red nose, all right.” Sonya’s voice seemed inhuman in its rage. Fear swelled around Lilly like a choking fog. The tall stripper swung Lilly around like a toy, then pulled her fist back. Before Lilly could react, the fist connected with her nose. Shooting pain accompanied a sickening crack. Blood ran down her throat, tasting like metal, and all she could see was an ocean of red.

“Enjoy, Dumpster Girl!” Sonya tipped her upside down and slammed her headfirst into an empty trash can.
“Remember, Rudolph, you’ll never fit in anywhere. You’ll always be an outcast left out of all the reindeer games.” The other strippers convulsed with laughter.

You can purchase Wicked Wonderland here. 

Learn more about Lisa here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Beauty Bites has a release date!

My apologies to readers looking forward to Lisa Whitefern's visit--it has been unavoidably delayed. More info as it comes.

In the meantime, I'm pleased to announce the next Biting Love book, Beauty Bites, has a release date!

Mark your calendars for August 13

Here's an unofficial blurb to whet your appetite.

When top Minneapolis exec Ric Holiday says "absolutely no" to designing an ad campaign for Meiers Corners, Dr. Synnove Byornsson is sent to plead the city's case. Synnove, with the body of a Scandinavian model and the face of an angel, is the sunshine Ric hasn't felt since he was a human boy basking in his parents' love. Determined and intelligent, she won't take his no for an answer.

On the way to Holiday's penthouse, Synnove's blouse is torn by rowdy drunks. Enter Holiday, with his tousled blond hair, a smile ranging from warm to deadly, eyes so blue they knock her breath out, and sinewy strength barely civilized by suit and tie. He's style over substance, everything she hates, but when he drapes his coat over her exposed bosom she starts to discover he's more than mere sizzle.

A bad experience has made Synnove reconsider medicine. She doesn't need Ric's distraction but her cousin keeps jamming her into short skirts and sexy underwear. Then a sly woman makes a counter-proposal to morph Meiers Corners into the New Sin City, and Synnove must find some sizzle of her own or potentially lose everything.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 2013 1T Giveaway

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Welcome to the First Tuesday giveaway! Each first Tuesday of the month I'm offering a contest where I choose one winner (who hasn't won in the past twelve months) by random number from all comments on that   post. (Please comment at my blog here: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2013/01/january-1t-giveaway.html)

The winner will receive his or her choice of one ebook from my backlist (not including Biting Oz) *or* a $5 gift certificate from Amazon or Samhain!

If you're a 18+ and an adult, and if you consent to having your name listed on the rotating 12-month winner list, just comment on this post to enter! Void where prohibited. Please note, the Biting Love books contain explicit sex and violence. If you win, please consider that when making your prize selection. Winner chosen at  the end of the month and posted as part of next month's contest.

And the winner of the December Giveway is Suzy! Suzy, congratulations! Please email me at mary @ maryhughesbooks.com for your prize.