Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome Rose Anderson for "Open Mic Monday"

Today I'm happy to host Rose Anderson for my "Open Mic Monday" where she's sharing an excerpt of her novel, Dreamscape.  Enjoy! 
Also, this week I'm beginning "Tantalizing Thursday" and "Flash Fiction Friday".  I hope you'll come back to see what's up.  In the meantime, enjoy Rose and the following excerpt of Dreamscape. Be well. 


Thanks for having me Amber! I hope your readers enjoy.
Dreamscape by Rose Anderson
Blurb:
Unable to deny his own translucence, Dr. Jason Bowen determines his lack of physical substance could only mean one thing—he’s a ghost. Murdered more than a century before, Jason haunts his house and ponders the treachery that took his life. 
When Lanie O’Keefe arrives with plans to renovate her newly purchased Victorian mansion, Jason discovers, ghost or not, he’s still very much a man. Despite its derelict condition and haunted reputation, Lanie couldn’t be happier with her new home, but then she has no idea a spirit follows her every move throughout the day and shares her captivating warmth at night. Jason soon discovers he can travel through Lanie’s dreams and finds himself reliving the days before his murder with Lanie by his side. 
It took one hundred and twenty years for love to find them, but there’s that insurmountable little matter of Jason being dead.
Excerpt:
     Lanie sat on the stairs, pulling old carpet tacks from the bunching old runner and talking on the phone to Lexie about their dinner plans. She had no idea Jason sat on the stair above carefully contemplating how he might reveal himself without frightening her. Discovering her tack hammer misplaced for the third time, she gave up on the frustrating task and went to get ready for her blind date.
Her bath had the same effect on him as it had the other times he watched her bathe. She stood wrapping hair and body in thick towels, looking for all the world like she’d just emerged from the Turkish baths. Over her shoulder, in the mirror, he watched her fascinating application of tints and lash color, though, in his opinion, she was just as beautiful with as without. His cock grew soft once she began to dry her hair with a gadget he had never seen before. Margaret certainly didn’t have one of these noisy electrical hot air blowers. His body roused again when she put her undergarments on. Her pantalets were nothing more than a Y-shaped piece of material that accented her adorable rounded backside. Her brassiere was crafted from very feminine black lace, low enough that the rosy hue of her areolas slightly peeked above the edge. A French milliner couldn’t have chosen better. She dabbed perfume behind her ears, on the inside of her wrists and at the spot above her heart. Although the fragrance was faint, he was surprised he could smell the familiar floral scent on her as she passed. That sense had been dead as long as he. Holding this piece of clothing or that before her, she appraised her reflection in the mirror with each. After four considerations, the dress she settled on was black and short—too short. He found himself frowning. 
The frown persisted as the mantle clock stuck ten o’clock and deepened when it struck eleven. By eleven-thirty-two, he was in a fine pique.
Hearing Lanie’s automobile roll onto the gravel drive, he invisibly materialized downstairs to meet her at the door with his arms folded across his chest in irritation. Leaning against the wall, looking her over from head to toe as she came in talking on her telephone, he thought her lips were a little chafed, a little too swollen. She’d kissed the man she’d just met that night, no doubt more than once. The thought annoyed him more than the late hour.
“No really, I had a nice time with Jim.” She laughed. “Yes, nosy, I let him kiss me. Lexie, I know, but please no more dates until I finish the clinic. Please? I have too much to do to get sidetracked.” She laughed again. “I don’t know, maybe I will see him again. He kissed fine! Of course you can set us up again when I get things done here. I don’t know how long it’s going to be—I have the clinic to open! Yes, I know you do. No, when I’m done you’ll be the first to know. I promise. Love you, too.” She hung up the phone shaking her head. “Sheesh,” she said in exasperation, but the over-kissed smile lingered.
Irritated a great deal, he followed her upstairs and watched as she washed her face, brushed her teeth, and changed into her worn, comfortable-looking clothing. Still invisible, he didn’t follow behind her when she went back downstairs. Rather he focused his mind and appeared alongside her at the bottom.  
    Heading to the parlor, Lanie turned on Margaret’s television and took a seat on the sofa directly across. When kissing her date goodnight, the man suddenly had the arms of an octopus. Picking up the remote, she proceeded to flip through channels, feeling wired from fending off her date’s sweet but unwanted attentions.
   Watching her, Jason shook his head. “Oh no, sweetheart, I haven’t waited the entire night for you to lose yourself to this contrivance.” With that he projected his spirit energy into the wires that fed the machine electricity. The screen instantly filled with snow. 
Lanie frowned at the snowy screen and flipped through channel after channel looking for better reception. “Oh, come on!” she told the television. After another run-through, she gave up and turned it off. “Damn it. All I wanted to do was unwind before bed.” She ran an exasperated hand over her face. There was a lot to do the following day and she knew it would take hours for her to fall asleep. A thought came to her. Most over-the-counter sleep aides were antihistamine-based. Having seasonal allergies, that was something she had readily available. That would certainly make her sleepy. No, I don’t like how my head feels in the morning. Instead she headed to the kitchen for a cup of chamomile tea.
Jason watched her go, feeling the slightest remorse for haunting her television. He reasoned he didn’t like that noisy box that, for all appearances, put Margaret into a daily trance. He followed her into the kitchen where he noticed her lips again. His remorse evaporated. Sharing passionate kisses with a man you just met! Annoyed, Jason swept his hand across the counter and knocked the spoon to the floor with a clatter. 
Lanie jumped at the sound. Frowning, she reached under the chair where a spoon had inexplicably fallen then looked around for anything that might have knocked it on the floor, hoping she didn’t have large mice or, God forbid, rats. Setting it in the sink, she said, “I think I have ghosts.” 
Jason’s anger instantly faded as her statement took him by surprise. Testing her, he slowly opened the cabinet door, the old hinges squeaking and groaning. She turned to the sound of the swinging door, and he watched her face carefully. No fear, just curiosity. The whistling kettle diverted her attention. Once more he found himself wishing he were able to sit over a cup of tea and talk with her. He wanted to know where she’d been tonight and why she’d kissed a man she hardly knew. He wanted to know why she haunted his thoughts as surely as he haunted these halls. But moving a spoon and a cupboard door was a far cry from materializing in full form before her. 
Taking a seat in the chair across from her as she scribbled small pictures onto her notepad, flowers mostly, daisies and lily-of-the-valley, he read the messages she wrote to herself regarding what needed to be done the following morning. This list was the shortest yet. Occasionally she’d look at the cabinet door to see if it would actually move again. He was tempted, but a part of him was too afraid she’d leave, never to return. Then the moment he had waited the entire day for happened. She yawned. 
“You’re tired, you should rest,” he whispered. He could see the suggestion taking root in her mind. Putting her nearly full cup in the sink, she headed to bed.
Watching her sleep, Jason sat beside her a long while thinking on how lovely she looked tonight. He would have loved to have been the man to take her out on the town, to the theater perhaps. Out for dinner, certainly. If his own kisses had swelled those luscious lips, he would have ventured from her sweet mouth to the tops of those exquisite breasts so tantalizingly displayed in the décolleté of her neckline. His entire being desired to lose himself in the living heat of her. There was simply no stopping himself from caressing her, having lost that particular battle of conscience the first night she lay in his bed. He’d convinced himself that as long as he kept his baser needs to himself, touching her while she was completely unaware was a harmless compulsion. 
Materializing just under the linens, his glowing form lit the sheet like a Japanese lantern. He whispered to her unconscious mind as she lay curled on her side, “Lay back for me, sweetheart, let me look at you fully while I feel how warm you are.”
Unconsciously responding to his suggestion, she rolled on her back, one arm tossed casually over her pillow. 
Once more marveling that he was able to touch her at all, he swept her raven hair back from her lovely face, his thumb lightly tracing the delicate arch of her eyebrow. Touching her skin was like touching a rose petal in his garden, a warm sun-kissed rose petal. Gliding his hands over her warmth, he caressed her trim belly and arms all the while carefully avoiding the dove-soft breasts as any gentleman might unless given leave. Though it was true she hadn’t granted leave for any touching, the fragment of his gentlemanly comportment quickly faded as her living heat seeped into him.


Follow Rose Anderson at any of the following links: 

Love Waits in Unexpected Places

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Was it all a dream? A guest author post by Author Tammy Dennings Maggy

Thanks for having me today, Amber!  The last time I visited with you I talked about finding my soul mate.  The journey to get to where I am was far from easy. In fact, there was a time that I just wanted to give up and end it all, but something stopped me.  Call it a higher power if you will, but something intervened and said to just give my life one more chance.
Instead of staying in that dark room, wallowing in self-pity and heart break, I turned on a few lights and started writing.  I kept writing and pouring my heart and soul out onto the pages of notebook after notebook.  These notebooks held my life over the last two years. Two of those notebooks held my poetry.  Some of it was already there, the happy and in love stuff. What I had to add then was the devastation and heartbreak of going through first a divorce, then having my heart ripped out and shattered by someone I had loved for over 25 years.

Two other notebooks were the beginning of what became For the Love of Quinn (Now and Forever 1), the very first book I have ever published.  It’s the beginning of what I hope is a great series…well, I think it’s great!  LOL! I’ve filled several more notebooks with the scenes and timelines for all of my new characters.  All of them are bits and pieces of me and have helped me find myself again.
The collection of poetry is what really saved me.  I poured out all of my heartache and pain in those words.  I wrote about accepting that the man I had loved all of those years was just a fantasy.  I lost him long ago when he joined the Marines and fought in the first Gulf War.  The person who came back was not the same. We were wrong to think we could just pick up where we left off. Too much time had passed and both of us were different people then we were in high school.  Aren’t we all?
Once my heart accepted that, the anger flew out of me and onto the pages.  He couldn’t just let me go on with my life, he had to keep coming back and promising me things he could never deliver. That pain was brought out for all to see in those words and in so doing, my heart was able to start healing again.  It was far from being whole, but it was a start.  Just that small step opened the door for a friendship and a love that I never thought was going to be mine.
People would always say to me that I would find true love when I stopped looking. I used to think that was a bunch of baloney, but it’s actually true.  When Liam and I first met, both of us had come out of some nasty breakups and neither one of us was ready for a “relationship.” Before either of us knew it, we had fallen for each other.  It really wasn’t that hard. It felt like we had known each other for more than just this lifetime.  It was comforting and frustrating at the same time.  I wasn’t ready to hand my heart over to someone again to see it shattered.  I didn’t think I would survive a pain like that again. Both of us kept dating other people but still came back to each other time and time again. 
I wrote some of my best poetry during that time of uncertainty between us.  I knew I had fallen for him and was scared out of my mind.  What I didn’t know was that he was feeling the same. The idea that we had finally found our soul mates scared us both to death, but the thought of losing one another was even more frightening.  At one point I had thought he didn’t feel the same for me and wrote about losing him.  He’s in the coast guard and longs to be at sea again, so I took that idea and ran with it.  It was that poem that lit a fire under him.  After her read it, something changed between us. He told me he never wanted to be apart again, that we belonged together.   I’d like to share that poem with everyone here today.  It’s in my self-published book called Follow Me: Poetry from the Heart and Soul.  Some people who have read this poem thought it was about a woman who has lost her husband at sea, that he died.  I didn’t intend for it to be that way, but I guess that is how it felt to me. I thought I was going to have to go on without him. 
Was It All A Dream?
The waves crash on the beach 
Pulling me out of a much needed sleep.
The bed we shared the days before
Was still warm where you laid next to me…
I reach out only to find empty space.
No sign of your sleeping face.
Eyes closed tight
Fighting the tears.
Remembering the same goodbye
Said so often through the years.
Clinging to each other
In the hours before you leave.
Hearts pounding together: 
Touching kissing, committing all to memory.
Fighting the urge to just let you go.
Was it all a dream?
Promises made once again
To come home safe to me.
Smiles on our faces
Don’t make it to our eyes.
One last embrace.
One last kiss.
Hearts reaching out for one last plea.
The friendship, the love,
The soul wrenching goodbyes.
Was it all a dream?
Wrapped in one of your shirts
Still smelling of you.
Walking along the shore
The salty mist coats my skin.
On the horizon a distant ship
Starts to come into view.
And as always this is how
My journey without you begins.
Was it all a dream?
So won’t you follow me on my journey?  It’s really not all that unique. Others have followed paths similar to mine.  Some have found the light at the end like I did, and others are still searching.  No matter which one you are, keep putting one foot in front of the other because each day brings new light and new love. What more can you ask for?
Where to find me
Follow Me: Poetry from the Heart and Soul 
Behind Closed Doors (website/blog)

Monday, January 9, 2012

An interview with Author Jerry Guarino


Please welcome fellow author, Jerry Guarino, to "Open Mic Monday".  An author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay area, his upcoming book, Cafe Stories, is an eclectic collection of 26 critically acclaimed short stories previously published in dozens of literary magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. Please comment below--Jerry would love to communicate with you directly about his work and writer's journey.  Welcome, Jerry!  Thanks for sharing with us. 



Buy Cafe Stories on Amazon.com 

An Interview with Author Jerry Guarino 
(special thanks to Amy Manemann)
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in northern New Jersey, outside New York City and then went to college at Rutgers, majoring in English and American Literature.
What inspired you to become a writer?
All my life I’ve wanted to write, forming the ideas for my stories in my head.  I wrote in college, but didn’t submit anything for publication.  Then I started writing again last year.  My stories came rushing out, like a dam with a hole in it, publishing thirty-five stories in one year.  Although I wish I had started sooner, the benefit of waiting was that I had lots of life experience to base my writing on, including settings and characters I have known.  Once I have an idea, it only takes me an hour or two to write a story.
How did you decide on your book's genre?
My book is an eclectic collection of short stories so there are many genres included.  There are love stories, humorous tales and mysteries.  Most of them have unusual plots, twists and surprise endings, much like O. Henry stories. Perhaps some day I’ll settle into one genre, but for now, I get an idea and explore it into a story. Maybe that’s why I have avoided the novel so far, because I’m still finding my writing voice.
What is/are your favorite genre(s)?
I like well-written fiction, nothing too complex, with humorous or satirical themes.  For example, I like the Yes, Minister stories by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay, very funny political satires about the British bureaucracy.  But I also love the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Anton Chekhov and great American writers like Hemingway and Steinbeck.
Are you currently reading anything?
I continue to read the many short stories of Mikhail Zoshchenko, a Russian author.  His work is very funny, while making a statement about the frustrations of the people in communist Russia.  If you haven’t read The Bath House, you need to; it’s only a few pages long, but is a classic story that I’m sure you will like.
The Chess Table, buy now on amazon.com
Who or what is the driving force that keeps you going?
Once I realized that I had a gift as a writer, I was compelled to see how far it would take me.  I’ll keep writing until no one wants to publish my stories, which thankfully hasn’t happened yet.  I only wish I started earlier.  It’s great when a magazine accepts my story for publication and even better when people tell me they enjoyed reading it.
How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?
Good question.  During the day, I’m a teacher, leaving me some time to write in the late afternoon, weekends and the summer.  While I write, my wife does crafts, like scrapbooking, making jewelry and quilting.  But we always get together at dinner; we have a good balance of work and play.
Tell us about your book.
Café Stories is a collection of 26 stories, previously published in magazines around the world.  Because I have so many different types of stories, the book appeals to a wide audience.  Although there are certain stories that stand out, most people have their own favorites.  I selected the name because my stories appeal to so many different people, like you would see in your local coffee house.  Students, retired people and everyone in between can find stories they like in my book.  Since many of the stories are short, you can read one in the time it takes you to have your coffee and pastry.  I wanted my book to be an oasis from the stress of daily life, even if you only have five minutes to spare.
How do you create your characters?
The advantage to beginning to write later in life is that I have had so much experience.  Many of my stories have a biographical element to them or are based on people I have known and places I have been.  I may exaggerate the qualities of a character for effect, particularly when I am contrasting their motives and behavior with others.  More than anything else, I want my characters to be memorable, but not necessarily likable.  Characters, along with setting and plot, combine to make a story.  You need all three.  Myra McIlvain, the author of Legacy, described my characters this way.
“Jerry Guarino's Cafe Stories sends his readers on a merry chase through a wild array of micro/flash fiction--humor, satire, and pathos. He artfully captures gentle souls and slick cons, the high brows and their unsuspecting victims in characters that step from the page to engage the reader. Guarino finds the tiniest trait that creates zany folks the reader wants to protect or strangle. Often at the same time. Prepare for the surprise twist at the end. He gets you every time.”
The Devil's Orchestra, amazon.com 
Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?
Besides this wonderful opportunity on your site, I have been asked to guest blog on other writer sites, done some book signings, in coffee houses (of course ) and have participated in programs with the Women’s Literary Café.  I will be doing a reading in Sacramento later this year for a magazine that has published my work.
Where can people find you and your work on the web?
As I write stories for the next book, Café Stories Deux, those will be on the website of the magazines that publish them.  You can check my website for links, http://cafestories.net.  I’m also glad to send a story to anyone who requests one, whether they want to read a love story, funny tale or mystery.  Of course my book is available as a kindle title to read on their computer or tablet, for less than a cup of coffee I might add.   

Jerry's books are available on amazon.com (direct links below each cover)and http://cafestories.net.  Follow Jerry on Twitter at @cafestories, Facebook or email him at jguarino.author@gmail.com.  


Monday, January 2, 2012

Sexy Little Bits: Why Lingerie is Important

Today on "Open Mic Monday" I'm featuring fellow Siren-Bookstrand author, Cait Reynolds (aka Fiona Blackthorne).  Her new release, Moonstruck, will be available on bookstrand.com in February!  Make sure to mark your calendar for that because it's certain to be a page-turning-so-hot-you-need-a-cold-shower read! Woot!  Yay, Cait slash Fiona! 
Celebrate her success by staying up-to-date with her at  http://artifexamor.blogspot.com  

Sexy Little Bits: Why Lingerie is Important
By: Cait Reynolds
Admit it. You have them.
The used-to-be-white-now-kinda-grey bras that are super comfortable but look like they belong in a 19th century London workhouse. The cotton panties that are pilling or the stretchy ones with the elastic starting to pop out like fringe.
photo taken by Cait Reynolds
Shall we peek into your drawer of night things? Ah yes. The oversize t-shirt. The raggedy-ass flannel pajamas. The hideous floral faux-satin nightie that you never wear.
We shall give socks and stockings a pass because nobody wants to wear a garter belt or thigh-highs every day, and frankly, they come off pretty quickly with the pants/skirt/shoes thing.
Ladies, 2012 is upon us. This year, make your resolution to go through your underwear and sleepwear and freshen things up…and maybe liven things up, too!
I just did this at the end of 2011. I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference. I just needed some new stuff because my old stuff was getting really…really…bad. But then, as I was shopping, I began to see how cute some of the bras and panties were. I began to think obsessively about my lingerie. I went home, I dug through my drawers. I couldn’t find one bra and panty that matched. I had practically no sleepwear to speak of – what I had was usually cobbled together from workout clothes.
Something inside me snapped. 
I had avoided buying pretty things because I had gained a lot of weight after my kidney transplant five years ago, and though I’m finally stabilized medically and am starting to lose weight, I felt pretty bad about my body image. I didn’t deserve pretty, sexy lingerie. It was best that I just wear utilitarian, economical, plain things until I could be fabulously fit and thin again. 
Well, that shiznit was all over. Lingerie is what you wear closest to your skin. If you don’t feel good in that, how will you feel about the rest of the way you look? It’s kind of like my rationale for cute shoes: shoes are what we touch the earth with, what we take every step with…if you can’t do it in style, then what’s the point?
Now, I am a starting-out writer. I am not rolling in anything except plots. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on Agent Provacateur or La Perla (though someday, I will treat myself!). What’s a girl to do, then?
Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Kohl’s. 
The strategy? One cute bra and 3 panties to match. It’s really cost-effective, as the panties are always so much cheaper than the bra.
I dove into color with luscious pinks, rich purples, and fiery red. I also indulged in some blacks, greys and creams. There were ruffles. There was lace. There were little ribbons. The first time I wore my new little lacy bits under my clothes, I felt like a million bucks. Every outfit looked different and better, and I realized it was because of the way I was carrying myself with more confidence as a woman as a result of some upgraded underwear.
Cool, non? 
Oh, I kept some of the old grungy stuff for working out in, and so far, I’ve been very good about only wearing it for that. 
For sleepwear, I did invest in a few pajama bottoms and cute little t-shirts, but I also found some adorable things at Target with Josie Natori and Gillian O’Malley. Little silky teddies and boy shorts with lace. Spaghetti straps and ribbons. I am one happy girl when I go to bed now. 
Did I mention that my husband approves? 
So, ladies, make 2012 the year you burn your OLD bras and step out in style – even if you’re the only one who can see it. 
“Moonstruck” by Fiona Blackthorne (aka Cait) is coming in February 2012 from Siren-Bookstrand Publishing!
Ava Bell wants a quiet month in Blue Moon, Maine. What she gets are Robert, Declan and Sean Molineaux who seduce her body and soul into darker pleasures. When an old evil threatens her new love, can Ava find the solution to a centuries-old mystery?
Learn more about Cait, her writing and her zany misadventures at Artifex Amor – http://artifexamor.blogspot.com