Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays! A gift to my readers--Edie and the CEO Cover revealed!

Edie and the CEO

A contemporary romance from Crimson Romance

Coming February 4, 2013!

"Funny, unique, witty & smart - the romantic comedy is back!" --Edie Ramer, author of Stardust Miracle

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

3T Writing Tidbit

This month I'm doing something slightly different. I've accumulated some pet peeves over the years and I'd like to set a few out now.

Ten light-years later. I shudder to admit I've actually written this. The problem? A light year measures distance, not time. If you can use feet or meters in the sentence, you can use light-year. Even if it were a time, one light year takes one year, which is redundant.

The lush strings of Chopin. The problem is, musicians read. If you're going to use a specific musical term or composer, make sure it makes sense. Yes, Chopin was a Romantic composer. But he's best known for his solo piano works. Chopin's lush strings makes about as much sense as citing a Smart car as an example of trunk space. Yes, it has a storage area but that's not what it's known for.

His voice dropped an octave. An octave is a big-assed jump, folks. And we already talk in the lower part of our range. Dropping an octave will make him sound like he's gargling used motor oil.

The tornado decimated the village. Strictly speaking, this works. But I think using the word decimate to mean annihilate loses the true flavor. Even using it "correctly", the horror of the word of the word is lost. Dictionary purists will tell you it means "one in ten". Yes. But the horror comes from which one in ten, and what happened to them. Roman armies used to punish their own troops. It was a punishment for group cowardice. The group would be forced to draw lots, and one in ten were picked. Then each man picked was bludgeoned to death by his own fellows. See, isn't that a lot worse than simple annihilation?

His face was a rictus of pain. Problem is, according to my dictionary there has to be an opening involved for a rictus. Now I learned this word it was in the sentence, His mouth was a rictus of pain and from context, I thought it meant all the muscles contorted. Well, yes, but only the mouth part. Think baby bird and its demanding breakfast. The open beak, the sustained gaping, is the rictus.

What are your pet peeves in writing?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Edie and the CEO has a release date!

I'm thrilled to announce that Edie and the CEO, my contemporary romance story with Crimson Romance, will release Monday, February 4, 2013! This is a fun, short, sensual read that will appeal to a broad range of readers and fans. Cover art coming soon!

Edie wants to make her 60s protester grandparents proud. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Someone's trying to force Everett out of his job, and Edie's latest escapade hasn't helped. A snowstorm and an empty cabin makes them confront their attraction.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Smell of Christmas--Guest Cynthia D’Alba--plus giveaway!

Before you begin reading this blog, shut your eyes and take a couple of breaths through your nose. What did you smell? Last night’s liver and onions? The vanilla candle burning beside you? The lemon in the furniture polish you use? In full disclosure, I’m writing this sitting next to a Sparkling Cinnamon Yankee Candle so I have the wonderful aroma of cinnamon affecting my writing today.

Research shows that the sense of smell is one of the most important elements in evoking memories. And I’ve found that each season has its own unique scent.

In Spring, the aroma of flowers—maybe roses or that out-of-control jasmine along your fence—fills the air with scents designed to pull us outdoors and back into the sunshine after a long winter’s nap.

In Summer, it’s the smells of fresh mowed grass and hot asphalt that make me smile. You may be wondering about the hot asphalt smell because after all, it’s kind of stinky. But when I was going up, my parents would take my sister and me to Six Flags over Texas every summer. All the paths in that park are—or were—paved with asphalt. In the Texas heat, the asphalt would give off its characteristic smell. So my brain associated hot asphalt with pleasure.
In the fall, the crisp air carries the smoke from fires, either in fireplaces or from someone burning leaves in the yard.

But I think the scent of Christmas has the greatest potential to arouse the pleasure centers in our brains. What does Christmas smell like? For me, it’s cinnamon and cloves and vanilla, mixed with a citrus tang, like an orange. It’s the smell of a hot, gooey pecan pie as it’s pulled from the over. Cedar from the fresh cut Christmas tree tints the air in the living room as the proud tree stands guard over the pile of presents at its base. It’s my grandmother’s homemade yeast rolls as the brown in the oven.

Words cannot begin to capture the fragrances that make me smile. But a recipe can. I found a wonderful recipe on www.food.com that I think captures my Christmas.

The Scent of Christmas
Add orange and lemon slices to dry mixture of spices. Put in a small sauce pan with 4 cups of water. Simmer on low to release the fragrance. (NOTE: You might try other liquids instead of water for simmering, such as apple cider, to give your own personal twist.)

IF you simmer it for a few hours, you will need to add more water or liquid occasionally so it doesn't boil dry. Store in refrigerator when not in use to prevent molding. It can be simmered over and over again! Always add more water to equal 4 cups before each use.

So that’s how Christmas smells to me. Tell me about your favorite Christmas scents.

To celebrate the season, AND to celebrate the release of Texas Two Step in print on January 1, 2013, I’ll give a digital copy of Texas Two Step: The Prequel to the first TEN people who write me via my website contact page. I’ll  pick one lucky person to win a digital copy of TEXAS TWO STEP. Occasionally I’ll have some swag (pens, jar openers, magnets, etc) just for the asking! Send a note through my website contact page for swag.

Cynthia D’Alba began writing after a long career in both the medical and academic worlds. Her debut novel, Texas Two Step, was released by Samhain Publishing in digital format on February 28, 2012. It comes out in print on January 1, 2013. Want a taste? Here’s an except from Chapter One.

A BOY, A GIRL, AND A TIGER in the Wild At Heart Anthology, Vol. 1, available now in Digital and Print formats.

Learn more about Cynthia D’Alba at her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Next Big Thing--What I'm Working On

I'm fortunate to have met a lot of wonderful authors during my publishing career but one of my biggest inspirations is the awesome Edie Ramer. So when she invited me to join a fun serial party, I jumped on it!

Edie's Next Big Thing, Miracle Pie, is here.

And here's mine! Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
Alphas Don't Wear Bows

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Hubby and me, while driving somewhere, trying to top each other for funny characters/story lines.

What genre does your book fall under?
Paranormal romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That's a hard one. Noah is black haired and silver-eyed (at least to start) and Sophia has glossy bronze curls and star-shot blue eyes indicating her witch's power. Maybe someone could suggest actors and actresses for me.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Witch princess, alpha wolf, meddling magical aunt--what could possibly go wrong?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm going to try for an agent with this one.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Started it during one of the NaNoWriMo so 1 month. But filling out the end and editing added another month, and polishing it through SavvyAuthors' EditPalooza in January will add another.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Stephanie Plum meets Team Jacob with a shade or two of Grey.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Husband. Also WisRWA conference pitch where an editor told me she was looking for paranormals with more than one kind of magical being.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Sophia Blue embraced magic and all it entailed, until magic turned on her. Now she's studying to become a humanist minister. Noah Blackwood fought for control of the Blackwood pack before he was ready and now someone's trying to oust him--or worse. And he has some doozy secrets...including why a black raven familiar has been searching for him for years...

I invited four other awesome authors to join the party! Their Next Big Thing will be coming December 12. Visit them here:
And after Edie tagged me, the lovely Valerie Clarizio also asked me to participate! Her Next Big Thing about a sexy man put in a fish out of water situation, is here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December 2012 1T Giveaway!

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/2012/12/december-1t-giveaway.html)

The winner will receive his or her choice of one Biting Love ebook (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.

***Some changes coming to the 1T Giveaway in January. Prize will be a backlist book or something else yet to be determined (but I'm thinking T-shirts). This is the last month that Biting Oz will be offered as one of the prizes.

And November's winner is--Stephanie M! Congratulations! Please contact me at mary @ maryhughesbooks.com for your prize.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two New Contracts! Beauty Bites and Edie and the CEO

Lots of news!

I've signed a contract for the next Biting Love novel! Beauty Bites is Biting Love Book 6. Here's a first-draft blurb to whet your appetite.

When top Minneapolis ad man Ric Holiday is asked to design a campaign for the quaint town of Meiers Corners, he says no, in no uncertain terms. Meiers Corners is too near Chicago, the residence of the vampire who turned the orphaned Ric as boy. Then the city sends medical student Synnove Byornsson to plead their case. Synnove has the body of a Scandinavian model and the face of an angel. She is a sunshine Ric hasn’t felt since he was a human boy basking in his parents’ love. But Synnove also has the determination and intelligence of a doctor, and she won’t take his no for an answer.

Synnove walked away from her residency when a surgeon botched a surgery because he was staring at her chest. With time on her hands, she can’t say no when her cousin asks her to approach Holiday. But she’s all about substance, not image. Holiday represents everything she hates. She agrees to attending his Christmas-in-July party only reluctantly.

On the way up to Holiday’s penthouse, she’s hit on by four rowdy drunks, one of whom rips her blouse to reveal the lacy bra underneath—just as the penthouse door opens. Synnove gasps, near-nudity forgotten. Holiday is far more than she expected. The heart-pounding thrill at the sharp planes of his handsome face and azure eyes. The bright lust flooding her at his broad shoulders and tie nestled in the valley of his pecs. The warmth as he drapes his silk suitcoat over her shoulders.

Synnove knows she must get this man to agree to her proposal at any cost, though he continues to say no. But when a voluptuous, sly woman makes a counter-proposal to remold Meiers Corners into the New Vegas of the Midwest, and backs it up with practiced seduction, Synnove finds out what the cost of Ric Holiday’s help really is.

Bonus. If you've been waiting for Twyla and Nikos's Happily-Ever-After, you'll want to read Beauty Bites!


And I've signed a contract with Crimson Romance (home of author friends Elle J Rossi and Eliza Daly) for a contemporary 40,000-word story, Edie and the CEO!

Here's a first-draft blurb to give you a taste.

Edie Rowan is passionate about workers’ rights, wanting her Sixties protester grandparents to be proud of her. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Kirk is Mr. Ultra-Executive with his expensive hand-tailored suits and his eyes the steel blue of a finely-tempered sword—but for the intriguing contradictions of his neat ponytail and square workman’s hands.

Edie’s latest disaster, a teambuilding exercise gone facepalm wrong, leads to a knockdown drag-out with rival manager Bethany “The B”—or add the “Itch”—Blondelle. The incident is the last straw for Kirk. He sends Edie to management camp and to her shock, announces he will drive her there himself. She wonders why he would want eighteen hours of enforced intimacy with her, even as she’s dazzled by his sparkling white smile and killer dimple.

Everett walks away from the confrontation with a headache. For years he has protected Edie from the fallout of her righteous crusading, but this may be the last time. A corporate backstabber is trying to eject Everett from his job. Even so, he’s looking forward to spending time on the drive with Edie, attracted to her sunny red curls, fiery personality and fine dark eyes.

Then a snowstorm forces them to seek shelter in an empty mountain cabin. Edie thinks she will take the lead in wilderness survival but Kirk proves more durable than his Italian loafers and silk sweater would suggest. The extended stay rubs them together in all sorts of ways, kindling emotional and physical flames. But when their corporate shells burn away, what secrets will be revealed?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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.

Change the resolution of a beloved theme at your own peril.

The plot should resolve in the final part of the book in a way that is unexpected but clicks for the reader. Twists, variation and conflict are great except when a) they aren't connected in any way to what's happened or b) they run counter to a theme embedded deep in the reader's psyche.

Example: "There's no place like home" resonates with purity and simplicity for anyone who's seen or read The Wizard of Oz. You can change that but be prepared for the resolution to ring false for many of your readers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Under Her Spell--Guest Eliza Daly--Plus Giveaway!

Eliza Daly is another wonderful author I met through my monthly writer's group. Her books are smart, sassy, sexy...see for yourself!

Under Her Spell

When a series of failed relationships and business ventures have Monica Jackson doubting her self-worth, she turns to spell casting to attract positive energy and the opportunities needed to achieve her goals.  But can Monica’s belief in spells restore her belief in herself?

Monica creates a spell to find her soul mate, and one to ensure the success of her new romantic event planning company, Enhance Your Romance.  Monica is confident she has found her niche until divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office.  The anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove detrimental to Monica’s business.  When his arrival appears to trigger a string of bad luck, Monica fears one of her spells sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold.  Although Reed is beyond sexy, and she admires his self-confidence, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the universe back on her side, and Reed out of her life. No way is she losing another business.

Reed finds himself attracted to Monica’s beauty and her optimism. His job and his parents’ divorce have made him a pessimist, especially when it comes to love. However, he soon finds that Monica’s pro-love attitude is rubbing off on him, causing him to lose his edge.  If Reed doesn’t distance himself from Monica, he’ll likely destroy his reputation as a pit bull divorce lawyer.

Can Monica and Reed look past what they might be losing to realize the love they have found?

Excerpt Reveal for Under Her Spell


Monica Jackson was raising a bowl of sea salt, preparing to cast a spell circle on her bedroom floor when the door flew open. She nearly dropped the bowl as her cousin Hope stormed in, covered with flour and cake batter — the Unhappy Homemaker from Hell.

“No way is he getting the BMW,” Hope said, shaking a wooden spoon in her hand and sending batter flying across the room.

The night before, Hope had caught her scumbag husband Kyle in bed with another woman. Not wanting to impose on her happily married friends, she’d showed up at Monica’s door, even though they weren’t exactly close. Hope made a Stepford Wife look like a total slacker, and the only thing she and Monica had in common were their Italian features: dark hair and brown eyes. A wedding cake decorator, Hope was coping with Kyle’s infidelity by baking like a mad woman. Forget the cake. Monica would shove Kyle in the oven and roast him on high.

“What are you doing?” Hope’s gaze narrowed on the small wooden table in front of Monica, where her ingredients for the soul mate spell sat on top of a red tablecloth: a red candle, lavender incense, jasmine oil, cinnamon, and a love letter to her as yet unidentified true love.

“Casting a spell to help find my soul mate.”

“A spell? Does that really work?”


Monica’s psychic friend Jordan had convinced her that spell casting was a viable alternative to Milwaukeemates.com and speed dating in general. Neither of which Monica had time for, since establishing her new business was top priority. Her company, Enhance Your Romance, planned unique romantic events and was sure to succeed, unlike her other dozen failed business plans. Society was obsessed with being in love.

“A spell … ” Hope mused, then her face lit up. “If there’s a spell to attract a man to a woman, there must be one to repel women from a man. Right?”

“Spells shouldn’t involve negative energy. Sending out negative energy can cause it to return threefold. They aren’t intended to harm someone or make them do something against their will.” Jordan had drilled this into her head.

“I wouldn’t be making Kyle do anything against his will. I’d be warning women to stay away from him.”

Sounded borderline.

“Please,” Hope whined, picking a clump of batter from her long, wavy hair.

Monica let out a defeated groan. “All right.” Hope would never actually cast the spell anyway. When they were young, Hope refused to wear a Casper costume for Halloween because she didn’t believe in ghosts. She was closed-minded when it came to paranormal or New Age beliefs. And you had to truly believe in a spell for it to work.

Monica set down the bowl of salt and grabbed a pencil and pad of paper off her desk and handed them to Hope. “Write this down. It’s called,” she tapped a hot pink nail against her lip, “the dirtbag spell.”

“Like it already.” Hope jotted down the title as she perched on the edge of the bed’s purple floral comforter.

“Take one of Kyle’s socks, fill it with dirt, and add a photo of him. It’s critical you aren’t in the photo.” Monica paced, tightening the sash on her lavender silk robe. “Include something of his like … ”

“His new Rolex?”

Personally, Monica would list the watch on eBay and pray for a bidding war. But Hope, no matter how ticked off, was too timid to sell Kyle’s precious watch, and too frugal to risk damaging it by mixing it with dirt.

“That’s fine. Sew up the sock and bury it in your front yard. It’ll warn all women he’s a dirtbag.”

Hope poised the pencil against her lower lip, reviewing the spell. “Don’t I have to say something when I bury it, like a chant?”

What happened to being spell ignorant?

“Bury it in the moonlight while saying … ” Monica scrambled for a few rhyming lines, “moonlight, glowing bright, warn all women in your sight, the man who lives in this house, is a dirtbag and a total louse.”

“Perfect.” Hope sprang from the bed, looking inspired. “Kyle’s at work. I’m going over to the house right now to bury that sock.” She turned and marched out, a woman on a mission.

Monica nibbled nervously on her fingernail. Hope wouldn’t seriously go through with casting the spell, would she? A big part of spell casting was psychological, focusing all your energy on making something happen. Monica had never seen Hope look so determined, or vindictive. Hopefully, if she did cast the spell the negative energy didn’t return threefold.

What was the worst that could happen?

Please leave an insightful comment about the post to be entered to win one of two e-copies of Under Her Spell (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo). Please leave your e-mail address with your comment or check back for the winners, which will be announced on November 18th.

I’d like to thank Mary for having me here today and helping me celebrate the release of my debut romance, Under Her Spell. And thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented on my post. Please check out future stops on my blog tour, ending November 27. I’ll be giving away a variety of gifts. If you comment on 5 stops, and are a Facebook fan, you’ll be eligible to win one of two $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificates at the end of my blog tour. Winners will be announced on my website’s news page the end of November. A December Holiday Giveaway for my readers will also be revealed at that time.

Eliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it.

When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley and Frankie.

You can find Eliza on the web at Website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Under Her Spell is available at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play (Nook compatible), Kobo, and Barnes & Noble (coming soon).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 1T Giveaway!

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/2012/11/november-1t-giveaway.html)

The winner will receive his or her choice of one Biting Love ebook (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 October's giveaway is Anonymous/blacksnake! Congratulations! I'll be contacting you at the email you gave me about your prize.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Witches' Wish List--Guest Elle J. Rossi--plus Giveaway!

I get together with a group of like-minded authors once a month and got to know the wonderful Elle J. Rossi through them. Elle is multipublished and multitalented! She writes awesome stories that are "wicked, haunting, dark, and edgy"--all my favorites :) Welcome, Elle!

First, I’d like to thank Mary for letting me hang out at her house today! It’s paranormal season and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be!

In honor of All Hallows’ Eve, and because I love witches, I wanted to share a list I’ve compiled. As I learn more about magick and the women who make it all happen, I add to the list. Currently I’m at 13 and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. All witches, dark or light, good or bad, have a place in this world. Without balance, the world would tip and many of us would fall off. Personally, I own a lot of Super Glue and plan to put it to good use.

The comparison of these two lists is incredibly interesting and I often wonder which side I’m on. I truly think it depends on the day.

Good/Light Bad/Dark
1) A companion to grow old with 1) Someone to fetch them things
2) Angelica to heal 2) Ammonia to hex
3) A magical broom 3) A magical axe
4) Fruity bubbling concoctions4) double, straight up
5) Evanescence 5) Nox Arcana
6) A black cat 6) A black panther
7) A cloak and a skirt 7) A bustier and leather pants
8) A garden 8) A dungeon
9) A coven to laugh with 9) Enemies to war with
10) Candles 10) Wax
11) A spell book 11) A black magick tome
12) Sisters 12) Victims
13) Serenity 13) Power

Time to have some fun! I’m giving away an eBook of The Luminary, book 1 of the Brennan Coven Trilogy. For your chance to win, just follow the instructions below. It’s really that easy and you have until 11:59 pm on Thursday to enter!

Most of us are made up of light and dark qualities. Pick two from each list and show us what kind of cauldron you stir.

The Luminary

When Meera Brennan learns she’s a Luminary, one of the most powerful witches in existence, it rocks her already fragile world. To save herself and keep peace within the veiled community, Meera will have to hone her powers and brave an ancient realm to destroy the slayer’s magickal source. She alone must dispel chaos and ensure the balance of good and evil for all mankind.

Banished and stripped of his guardian powers because of a witch, Ghanem Adamo, former Prince of the Saharren realm, receives a chance at redemption when his estranged father reveals an immortal battle destined to alter all realms. In order to protect the innocent, regain his title, and reunite with his family, Ghanem must destroy the slayers’ source of power and bring down their terrorizing leader.

Her life . . .

Or his throne . . .

Challenged by fate, can love survive a nefarious battle that can result in only one prize?

Stop by Crimson Romance to purchase The Luminary from any of several online stores.

Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places. After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She'd found a new love. She'd found her escape.

Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she's creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and two cats that rule the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn't get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn't have it any other way.

Here’s where you can find Elle online:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Inspiration is a Funny Thing -- Guest Leigh Morgan -- plus Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to have friend Leigh Morgan visit today. Leigh is an amazing person (check out her bio) who writes wonderful, vibrant romance. Welcome Leigh!

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes it eludes me as I sit at my keyboard randomly hitting keys, hoping something wonderful sticks. Sometimes it smucks me upside the head and screams: “Pay attention. I’m inspiring here!”

That’s what happened with Second Chances.  I heard a song on the radio, fell in love with the gravely, raw voice and I built the rock star of my dreams around that voice. Of course I had to have someone so off his radar that had they met under normal circumstances they may have looked right past one another. Someone so real and so intriguing that she captures his imagination from the moment he first sees her shouting at a sheep in the road, to the moment she inevitably captures his heart, which quickly follows. I love these characters and this story so much that Ramsey Macleod and Rhiannon Thorson-Macleod make a cameo appearance in Fighting Fate, Book Two of the Warrior Chronicles.

I read my first romance novel: DEFY NOT THE HEART by Johanna Lindsey the summer after my first year of law school. My husband and I were on our way to the Rockies to camp after an incredibly stressful year. The gas station had a turnstile of books, most of which were male thrillers I’d already read. I wasn’t interested in the non-fiction aimed at saving my soul (although arguably I could have used one of those). And there it was, a vividly erotic cover with those words emblazoned in gold lettering: Defy Not the Heart. What the heck, at the time I needed some defiance and some romance. I read that book all the way through by flashlight as evening came and went. I’ve been hooked on romance ever since.

Romance novels got me through the rest of Law School with my sanity intact. The day I started practicing law, another major shift in my reality happened: I walked into my karate school and never walked back out again. I’ve been practicing Okinawan Shorin Ryu for twenty-one years consistently. It is so much a part of me now it’s like breathing. I love it and I love romance, so it was a natural progression to weave the two. I started doing that in my Warrior series. SPARRING PARTERS, Book One of the Warrior Chronicles and FIGHTING FATE, Book Two of the Warrior Chronicles. Each have a tie to the martial arts.

I created a world in Sparring Partners as a result of being hit in the head again with inspiration. This time, the inspiration made me mad as hell. I had an elderly client in a nursing home that was not meeting her needs. She had no family to complain about her lack of care, and she was paying $6,000.00 a month to share a room, drink Ensure. I had to fight to get her a used walker. It took me two months to get her out of that place ($12,000 later) and into a home-like facility where she now has her own room and bath, complete with a kitchenette, library and a communal dinning area she loves. (She pays less than ½ what she was paying.) I couldn’t change that system, so I created an alternative health care facility: Potters Woods, where people could live with dignity and where they’d get the best care for their bodies, minds and spirits. Of course it helps to have a spare billionaire to help fund it! Another instance of writing the world as I want it to be, being the best therapy. The result is fabulous, the inspiration still has me grating my teeth!

In Fighting Fate, I explore myth and magic, two elements I believe dance through our daily lives. I set part of the story in Glastonbury, England, where magic is tangible and anything can and does happen.

Defending Destiny, Book Three of the Warrior Chronicles will be available soon. It too has some myth and magic woven into everyday life. Daisy, my heroine, is in Argyll, Scotland, searching for the legendary Druid’s Scroll. Danger, love and a chance to change the world await her. In Defending Destiny, Scotland and its many mysteries is my inspiration. I can’t wait to finish this book and go back in time to when the Druid’s Scroll was first created and hidden. My next project will be set in Scotland about 1100 A.D. laying out the framework for my contemporary myth-hunters in Fighting Fate and Defending Destiny.

I love creating worlds that look and feel like ours, but where the magic is real and anything can happen. Inspiration can come from anywhere. What moves your soul? Where do you find inspiration? What is your favorite book? Does it take you away, make your world more colorful? Does it make you believe anything can happen? I wonder how different my life would have been had I never picked up: DEFY NOT THE HEART. Inspiration is an odd thing indeed! 

Leigh's books are available at Amazon, including Second Chances and The Warrior Chronicles Sparring Partners and Fighting Fate.

GIVEAWAY! Leigh is offering not one but TWO prizes! All three ebooks to two lucky winners! Comment to enter. Through Sunday. Winner announced here Monday.

About the author:

A native mid-westerner, Leigh lives in Southeastern Wisconsin and is currently dreaming of owning a cottage in Scotland.

Leigh is currently working on a series of stand alone contemporary novels, The Warrior Chronicles, with a tie to the martial arts. Adventure, romance, and themes such as ‘what constitutes a family’, and ‘living by a personal code’ all wrapped up in a tail-kicking package that will make you laugh, cry, and feel good about the world and your place in it.

A graduate of Marquette University Law School, Leigh studied Comparative Mythology, History and Philosophy as an undergraduate. Who knew this would lead to a lifetime of love with mystical romance, both contemporary and historical.

Leigh is a fourth degree black belt in Okinawan Shorin Ryu karate. She has continuously trained over a twenty year period with Master Daniel Schroeder in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. She also holds a fourth degree black belt in Matayoshi Okinawan Kobudo; weapons training. Leigh has taught self-defense for women and practical defense sequences for writers.

Leigh is an avid motorcycle enthusiast. (There’s nothing like a TRIUMPH!) Most summers (when she’s not out riding) you can most likely find her in Highland Gear walking her Scottish Deerhounds and promoting Macski’s Highland Foods at local Scottish Games and Festivals.

You may visit Leigh at: www.leighmorganauthor.com

For speaking engagements and martial arts seminars, please email Leigh at: leighmorgan@bardintraining.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Hot Chips and Sand; NEW Samhain Newsletter

Five more pages of the contemporary romance Hot Chips and Sand are available on my Side Trips. Here's the link for the current pages: Hot Chips and Sand

Sign up for the Samhain Newsletter! Get monthly updates on your favorites in romance, paranormal, horror, retro and more! http://eepurl.com/euszI

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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.

Look for the motive behind the others, the one pushing and obscured by lesser motives. Then build your reveal backwards, starting with the easily seen but less-powerful motives (and emotions).

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Hot Chips and Sand; Giveaway still going on

Five more pages of the contemporary romance Hot Chips and Sand are available on my Side Trips. Here's the link for the current pages: http://maryhughessidetrips.blogspot.com/search/label/current

See Live Edits! at the RWA's FF&P.

There's still time to comment and enter Cassiel Knight's giveaway!

And don't forget my monthly giveaway! Comment here: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2012/10/october-1t-giveaway.html

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I blame Indiana Jones – Guest Cassiel Knight -- plus Giveaway!

I blame Indiana Jones.

You see, from the moment Indiana Jones came to life on the big screen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’ve been hooked on all things archeological. And when Lara Croft played by the uber awesome (to me) Angelina Jolie, followed years later, I was a goner.

Since then, while I’ve always loved history and mythology, Indiana Jones introduced me to archeology but not the profession but more the seedier side – tomb raiding or grave robbery as it’s also been called.

You see, what Indiana did, even when he sold the pieces to the museum, was and is grave robbing. Now, given his love of history, he did it with the best intentions, however, it was still robbery.

But, that’s not the romance of tomb raiding and tomb raiding does have a romance attached to it. It’s action, adventure, mystery, thrills and chills combined to find some fantastic treasures. That’s what so many are attracted to and while Indiana Jones was so popular. Well, that and Harrison Ford as Indiana.

Tomb raiding is an ancient profession. Some experts believe it started in force from about the 16th century and forward. We are talking at minimum from about 1501! That’s a long time ago. But the stories go that tomb raiding goes back even farther. No one knows for sure.

According to SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone), because tomb raiding is theft, it is hard to give the exact size of the black market trade in antiquities. An article by Arielle Kozoloff says while legal antiquity trade generates $200 million in sales per year, the illegal market is measured in billions per year (The Antiquities Market: When, What, Where, Who, Why, and How Much? [Who Owns the Past? Rutgers University Press, 2005]).

But more than the money aspect, looters don’t care to preserve the site. Many of the amazing architecture of Egyptian tombs were destroyed by thieves in their quest for gold and other things to sell. Iraq, during the war with Saddam Hussein, was not spared and many of their treasures were looted.

And it’s not limited to Egypt or other places across the world. Right here in Amercia, there’s a robust trade in black market artifacts. If you visit the SAFE website (http://www.savingantiquities.org), you can find a wealth of facts and figures about the extent of this profession.

When I wrote Blood on the Moon, I knew I was stepping into a shaky area because of the black marks against tomb raiding. Again, this is where I blame Indiana and Lara because of my romanticism of that profession; I knew I had to write within that world.

My goal was to craft a tomb-raiding heroine who thrived there and walked a gray line of romanticism and reality and a hero on the opposite side who helps her change. It was not easy to do. I hope I succeeded.

Blood on the Moon is the first adventure into this often dark and seedy world. I plan to explore that side in future books.

I hope you enjoy this quick jaunt into the second oldest profession in the world.

If you want to read more, here are some excellent resources:

Loot – Sharon Waxman – 978-0-8050-9088-8
The Great Belzoni – Stanley Mayes – 978-1-84511-333-9
The Rape of the Nile Brian M. Fagan – 978-0-8133-4061-6
Stealing History – Roger Atwood – 0-312-32407-3
Finders Keepers – Craig Childs – 978-0-316-06642-6

Cassiel, thanks so much for being my guest today!

Blood on the Moon now available at Champagne Book Group and Amazon!

Find Cassiel online!
Twitter - @CassielKnight

To celebrate the new release of Blood on the Moon, Cassiel is doing a giveaway! Prize is winner's choice of one of Cassiel's ebooks. Comment to enter. 
Contest runs through Sunday (Oct 14 2012), winner posted Monday. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 1T Giveaway!

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/2012/10/october-1t-giveaway.html)

The winner will receive his or her choice of one Biting Love ebook (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 September's giveaway is Gayle! Congratulations, Gayle. I'll be emailing you for your selection of prize :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Free Contemporary Romance Novel plus EDITS!

Pages 1-5 of Hot Chips and Sand are ready to read! Vickie is a redheaded programmer who's been kidnapped and carted off to the Middle East. She escapes, only to run into a cliff of a man...

Bonus! This was the first novel I wrote. I'm bringing it up to date and as I post I'm also posting the edits I've made, along with explanation. If you're interested in the guts of writing, it's all here!

Double Bonus! I've been fortunate enough to work with the awesome Eliza Knight Workshops so for the first fifty pages I'm also posting those edits! See what polish a professional workshop can bring.

Monday, September 24, 2012

To carry on or not...? Guest Charlie Cochrane plus Giveaway!

 Writing series is great.  You build up a regular readership, each new book gives an impetus to the whole run of stories, and you can do some neat promo things like writing "missing scenes" or little freebies which reward stalwart fans and provide a way to draw in new readers.


You run some risks with a long sequence of books. Will people, even the most ardent fans, lose interest, or feel that the series has "jumped the shark"? How can you maintain interest with a constant(ish) cast of characters? In the case of romantic mysteries, how many tropes can you work through and still make the story a fresh and interesting category romance? At least the mystery element is easier to contend with. There's always a new murder to solve and a novel twist to be brought out, so detective series have traditionally had good staying power.

One of the things I've done with the Cambridge Fellows series is to take some major risks. In book eight I had three (count 'em!) popular secondary characters die, so in book 9 some of the other minor players have grown into the old ones' roles. This gives a new slant to the "helpers of the heroes" bit and makes this book different to all the preceding ones (which is what you want of any book in a sequence). The death of favourite characters also adds a new dimension to the emotional aspects of the books. (I've still not got over the death of Barrett Bonden in the Aubrey/Maturin series.)

I've also tried to use the series to discover what goes on after the “Happy Ever After” moment. Boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back...and then what? There's still plenty to explore, even in a relationship that goes on for years. The arrival of an old flame (or a wannabe flame), forced separation, illness, stress, past events coming back to haunt us - these, and others, are things which even the most enduring relationship may have to face. I've included at least one of these hiccups in each of the Cambridge books, giving the lads an emotional problem to solve alongside the mystery - an emotional problem which often mirrors in some way the murder or puzzle they're attempting to solve. (And it's been a lesson to me to discover that the brilliant, original plot twists I've come up with in terms of the romance are in fact long standing tropes which have already been used since time immemorial. It was ever thus...)

There is one definite advantage, however, of writing gay romance in an Edwardian or just post WWI setting; you don't have to go far to find tension and new threats. Homosexuality was illegal and what we'd call homophobic feeling had been stirred up by the Oscar Wilde trial at the end of the nineteenth century and the terrible Pemberton-Billing case during the war. (Gay and lesbian traitors purportedly around every corner.) My two lovers/detectives, Orlando and Jonty can fairly easily hide their relationship in plain sight, within the confines of a Cambridge college, so long as they're discrete. But outside those walls they have to keep their true nature hidden and are always going to be potential victims of blackmail.

Talking of which, I've found that having a Moriarty type baddy (Owens, from a rival college) has also been a good way of keeping up originality. There's always some new dastardliness for him to get up to!

Lessons for Survivors

Cambridge, September 1919

Orlando Coppersmith should be happy. WWI is almost a year in the past, he’s back at St. Bride’s College in Cambridge, he has his lover and best friend Jonty Stewart back at his side and—to top it all—he’s about to be made Forsterian Professor of Applied Mathematics.

With his inaugural lecture to give and a plagiarism case to adjudicate on, Orlando’s hands are full, so can he and Jonty afford to take on an investigative commission surrounding a suspected murder? Especially one which must be solved within a month so that a clergyman can claim what he says is his rightful inheritance?

The answer looks like being a resounding “no” when the lecture proves almost impossible to write, the plagiarism case gets turned back on him and Jonty (spiced with a hint of blackmail), and the case surrounding Peter Biggar’s death proves to have too many leads and too little evidence.

Orlando begins to doubt their ability to solve cases any more, and his mood isn’t improved when there seems to be no way of outsmarting the blackmailer. Will this be the first failure for Coppersmith and Stewart? And how will they maintain their reputations—professional, private and as amateur detectives?

Enjoy an excerpt from Lessons for Survivors:

“Stand still.”

“I am standing still.”

“You aren’t. You’re jiggling about like a cat after a pigeon.” Jonty Stewart made a final adjustment to Orlando Coppersmith’s tie, then stood back to admire his efforts. “I think that’s passable.”

“You should wear your glasses; then you wouldn’t have to go back so far. You can’t use that old excuse about your arms getting shorter so you have to hold the paper further away.” Orlando turned to the mirror, the better to appreciate the perfectly tied knot. “Faultless. Thank you.”

The hallway of Forsythia Cottage benefited from the full glare of the morning sun through the windows and fanlight, enough for even the vainest of creatures to check every inch of their appearance in the mirror before they sauntered out onto the Madingley Road. Still, what would the inhabitants of Cambridge say to see either Jonty or Orlando less than immaculate, especially on a day such as this?

“It’s as well you had me here to help, or else you’d have disgraced yourself and St. Bride’s with it.” Jonty smiled, picking at his friend’s jacket. If there were any specks on it, Orlando knew that they were far too small for Jonty to see without his glasses. “I’m so proud of you. Professor Coppersmith. It will have a lovely ring to it.”

Orlando nodded enthusiastically, sending a dark curl springing rebelliously up, a curl that needed to be immediately flattened, although even the Brilliantine employed recognised it was fighting a losing battle. His hair might be distinctly salt and pepper, but he was still handsome, lean but not angular, nor running to fat like some of his contemporaries. He’d turned forty when the Great War still had a year to run so there was a while yet before he hit the half century. Jonty was a year closer to that milestone and was never allowed to forget it. “I won’t believe it until I see the first letter addressed to me by that title.”

“Conceit, thy name is Coppersmith.” Jonty nudged his friend aside and attended to his own tie. Silver threads lay among his own ruddy gold hair, now, and the blue eyes were framed with fine lines. He knew he could still turn a few heads and young women told him he was handsome. If the young women concerned were his nieces…well, that didn’t invalidate their opinions.

Orlando snorted. “Conceit? That’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.” He slicked back his hair again, frowning.

“You seem unusually pensive, even for the new Forsterian Professor of Mathematics.” Jonty stopped his grooming, turned and drew his hand down Orlando’s face, remapping familiar territory. Coppersmith and Stewart. Stewart and Coppersmith. They went together like Holmes and Watson, Hero and Leander, or strawberries and cream. Colleagues, friends, lovers and amateur detectives, they were partners in every aspect of their lives, and neither of them entirely sure whether the detection or the intimacy was the most dangerous part.

“I was just thinking how sad it is that neither your parents nor my grandmother are here today.” Orlando fiddled with his tie pin, only to have his hand slapped away and the offending object straightened once more.

“Leave that alone. I’d only just got it right.” Jonty put a hat into Orlando’s hands—not the one he was going to wear today, but one he could twist nervously to his heart’s content, with no damage done. “Perhaps it’s as well they’re not here for your inaugural lecture. They might have had to put on a magnificent act to cover their boredom. Computable numbers? Hardly the stuff of gripping entertainment.” Jonty smiled, trying to keep his lover’s spirits up. He knew how deeply Orlando still felt the horrible series of losses he’d suffered during the years of the Great War.

So many people he’d been close to, now gone; it had left a gap in his life that Jonty knew even he couldn’t entirely fill. Not that, Orlando swore, he loved Jonty any the less, nor, as Orlando frequently said, was there any less of him to love. The reports of the college veterans’ rugby matches still referred to him as a little ball of muscle and Orlando said he was beautiful beyond the power of words or numbers—even imaginary ones—to describe. Both of which were nice, if perhaps unbiased, compliments. “Thank you for your vote of confidence.” Orlando ruffled his lover’s hair, grinning smugly as Jonty scurried back to the mirror to begin priddying again.

“My pleasure. I’m looking forward to the lecture, of course. I’ve a list of keywords which I’ll tick off as they come. If I get them all, I’ll win five quid off Dr. Panesar.”

“Does he have a list as well? Does everyone?” When they’d first met, Orlando would have been thrown into a panic at such a statement. Now he was older, wiser and alive to Jonty’s attempts to make game of him. “And do I get a cut of the proceeds? I’d write my lecture specifically to help out the highest bidder.”

“That’s the spirit. I’ll start the bidding.” Jonty leaned forward and kissed Orlando, as tenderly as when they’d first been courting. “That’s the deposit. You can guess what constitutes the rest of the payment.” He was pleased when Orlando, visibly happier, returned the kiss; he couldn’t let Orlando succumb to melancholy now. The man might start blubbing through his inauguration.

As  Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries. She lives near Romsey but has yet to use that as a setting for her stories, choosing to write about Cambridge, Bath, London and the Channel Islands, all of which are places she knows and loves well. Her ideal day would be a morning walking along a beach, an afternoon spent watching rugby, and a church service in the evening, with her husband and daughters tagging along, naturally.

Charlie's Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, MLR, Noble Romance and Cheyenne.

Website www.charliecochrane.co.uk
E-mail  Cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/charliecochrane

Charlie has offered a great giveaway for you! Winner's choice of either a print copy of one of her books or a "seductive Dr Coppersmith" t-shirt! Comment to enter. Through Thursday.