Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Meet the Characters - An Interview with Dan from "Dan Alexander, Pitcher" by Jean Joachim

Thanks for joining us today as noted sports journalist, Adora Smutz, interviews Dan Alexander from “Dan Alexander, Pitcher,” first book in the Bottom of the Ninth series.

Today I’d like to welcome, Dan Alexander, all-star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, and resident hunk at Hingus Stadium. How did you get to have the first book in the series, Dan?

It’s easy Adora when the author has the hots for you. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone, okay? I don’t want my girlfriend to get jealous.

Right, Dan.  *Winks*  Your secret’s safe with me. Hummm, now where were we. Oh, yes, your new book. Tell me about Holly. Is she good in bed?


You heard me. Is she hot? She looks hot.

Hey, that’s over the line. I’m not going to tell you about that. Geez. I thought we were supposed to talk about the book?

Your sex life is well detailed in the book. I understand you even raised the number of flames over some of Jean’s past books. Is that true?

*Grinning*  When you’re hot, you’re hot, Adora. What can I say?

Jean (author of the book):                          
Good try, Dan…
Adora, his book is the same heat level as all of my previous books, except my sweet series, which have no on-the-page sex.

You certainly are sexy, Dan.  *Fans herself*  Could someone open a window in here?

I’m taken, Adora, remember that. Now do you want to talk about how Holly and I met or what?

If people want to hear that crap, they can read the book.  My fans want to know what your favorite sex position is.

Well, I was looking up in the stands, just before the game, and there she was…

You’re not answering the question, Dan. Jean assured me you’d answer my questions. It’s not too late to unpublish your book, you know.  *Trains a frosty stare at him*

What! Unpublish me? No way. Okay, what do you want to know?

About the trial…

Can’t talk about that.

Why not?

Jean said it would give away too much of the plot.

Okay, so getting back to your favorite position…

I like them all, Adora.

*Chokes on her saliva*  All!

Yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Let’s just say I never met the position I didn’t like. How about you, Adora? What’s your favorite?

Oh my!  *Face turns red*  Well. Uh. I guess that’s all for today.

Hey, aren’t you supposed to tell people where they can get the book?

Oh, heck, I forgot. You can find, “Dan Alexander, Pitcher” where all fine eBooks are sold.

It’s in paperback and audio, too. Thanks, Adora. Always a pleasure.

Me too, Dan. If you ever break up…give me a call.

You won’t be lonely. I posted your phone number on the wall in the locker room. You should be getting a few…  *Cell rings*

Excuse me, Dan. Hello? Yes, this is Adora Smutz. You want to what? Say who are you? How tall? Blond?  *She smiles and sits back in her seat*  Tell me more.

I think she’s going to be tied up for a while. Thank you for listening to my interview. Jean…I’ll get you for this. Goodnight.

Buy Links

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Engagement Rings Through the Ages

The first thing most people do,
is show off the bling.
I’m not an historian so can’t vouch for the authenticity of the following information, but it intrigued me and I hope it will you as well. It seems to me that the point of the Happily Ever After of romance novels is finding the person of your dreams and lots of us look forward to having a little bling on our finger. So I thought learning more about the origins of engagement rings was appropriate.

While diamonds have been a popular stone choice for your ring when your significant other pops the important question – and I don’t mean, ‘Why don’t you move in with me?’ – Diamonds weren’t always the first choice. So let’s take a little walk through history.

It wasn’t until the late 1400’s, during the Renaissance period, that it became fashionable to bestow a ring embellished with diamonds upon your betrothed.  That’s when in 1477 the Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring with the letter M spelled out in tiny diamonds. Prior to this time, if rings were given at all, they were fairly simple bands – gold if the man could afford it.

The Middle Ages kicked off the more structured engagement procedure when Pope Nicholas issued an edict in 860BC declaring that for an engagement to be recognized, the prospective groom had to give his intended a gold engagement ring. Not sure if the Pope was getting a kickback from the goldsmith’s guild but it’s interesting to speculate.

By the 1700’s couples in Europe often exchanged poesy or posie rings – silver or gold bands with romantic inscriptions inside.

In the Victorian era engagement rings were often designed to resemble hearts, hands, bows, flowers, and even snakes (which were seen as a symbol of eternity). The ring frequently had the date of the ceremony etched inside.

The Art Deco period of the early 1900’s – particularly in America – often featured tiny gems to create a large design, rather than one central big jewel. — and angular shapes were all the rage.

My husband and I went with the
less traditional look.
In the 1950’s De Beers, the diamond manufacturer, launched an advertising campaign that featured a solitary diamond as the height of engagement ring fashion. That campaign still continues to influence engagement ring purchases.   

If you want to explore images of engagement rings through history, I loved the images associated with this one from Antique Jewelry University.

To get ideas for non-diamond options for your engagement ring, this article in BuzzFeed has some
fantastic images.

Hopefully this peek into the past, will inspire you when it comes time to say 'yes' and may you find your happily ever after!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Meet the Character – An Interview with Kralj from “Dark Thoughts” by Cynthia Sax

Kralj pushes the door open with his mind and strolls into the small chamber. His long leather coat swirls around his legs. Shadows shield his face. He’s tall, with broad shoulders, narrow hips. A sense of power, of danger clings to him.

He claims a chair and silently waits.

Interviewer:  You’re Kralj, the Ruler of the Refuge, the settlement on Carinae E?

He nods.

Interviewer: I have to ask you a few questions.

Kralj: (looks at the recording device) Must I speak?

Interviewer: Yes.

Kralj: (shakes head, doesn’t say anything)

How old are you?
I’m half Beta Taurian Shadow Beast, half enhanced human, was genetically designed by the Humanoid Alliance many, many human lifespans ago as a weapon of war. My nanohumanics give me the ability to live forever.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
When the shadows around me lift, I see what I truly am—a monster, as hideous on the outside as I am on the inside. The scarred right side of my face horrifies the staunchest of beings. The skin from my forehead to my chin is angry and red, twisted, stretched, permanently melted.

What is people’s first impression of you?
They fear me and they should. I have powers no being should ever have. I can kill an entire settlement with an errant thought.

Name three things that tick you off.
Lack of respect – The dangerous parts of me don’t respond well to that,
The breaking of my rules – they exist for the protection of others,
Going too long between feeding (flashes fangs) for obvious reasons.

What is your best memory to date?
When Dita touched my face. No one had ever dared touch me there. Her hands were rough yet gentle. She caressed my marred skin as though it were a priceless object, a treasure to be polished, cared for, cherished. Her beautiful countenance was soft.
(he shudders) She has to be killed but I will keep that memory with me always.

What are you most afraid of?
Losing control. (looks to the side, his expression turns bleak) When I do that, beings, all beings die.

What was your first impression of Dita?
(closes his eyes, the grim set of his lips eases) A riot of short curls framed her impish face. A black body covering encased her slender form, clinging like a second skin to firm breasts, a toned waist, curvy hips. Daggers were strapped to her chest, thighs, and arms. Guns filled the holsters at her hips.
(opens his eyes) She was tiny but only a fool would discount her.
I recognized her for what she was—a fellow killer.

What would you most like to forget?
I lost control once and destroyed a fragile being who had placed her trust in me. She trusted me to keep her safe, to protect her, and I didn’t.
I’d like to forget that but for the safety of others, I cannot.  

Who in your life has the power to hurt you the most and why?
Dita is the one being whose thoughts I can’t read, the one being my powers can’t touch, the one being I can’t control. I want her. Badly. I lose all restraint around her and that is a very dangerous thing.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a being of the darkness, as Dita is, as all killers are. It is necessary to move around while the sun is high, but I shield myself in shadows.

Dark Thoughts is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance. The hero might be tall, dark, and scarred but don’t be fooled by his appearance. He’s truly a monster. This story is not for readers with delicate sensibilities.

Dark Thoughts is available through: 
Barnes& Noble 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Did You Know? Rodeo Facts

I learn a lot every time I write a book. Following are a few things I learned about the rodeo - especially about Team Ropers - as I researched information for "My Rodeo Man."

A brief history of rodeo from the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Website:

Rodeo as we know it did not exist until the late 1800’s, but its roots in North America are traced back to the Spanish settling California and becoming cattle ranchers. The definition of “rodeo” is a Spanish word meaning roundup. The skills of the early Spanish vaqueros were eventually passed along to the American Cowboy after the civil war when the frontier territories were heavily expanding. The difference between Spanish rodeo and American rodeo is that the Spanish version focuses on style, while the American version focuses on speed.

It is very hard to trace the first rodeo in America. Many places make this claim including: Sante Fe, New Mexico in 1847, Deer Trail, Colorado in 1869, and Pecos, Texas in 1883. All early rodeos varied greatly by events and most were free to the public. Prescott, Arizona held their first rodeo on July 4, 1888 . Much of what we know today in the sport of rodeo grew from the Prescott Rodeo. The committee established the following that still hold true today: prizes awarded, rules for competition, admission charged, cowboys invited to compete and a committee to organize. The events included bronco riding, steer roping and cow pony races. In 1889, the first steer riding competition was held, later this event evolved into modern bull riding. By 1917, calf roping was added to the list of events at Prescott.

Did you know? 10 Facts about Rodeos and Cowboys

  1. All professional rodeos are governed by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or PRCA.
  2. The most common injury to Team Ropers is losing a digit, especially the thumb. “As part of this event, the cowboy or cowgirl must wrap the rope around their saddle horn a few times after they’ve roped the steer. Because the steer will pull on and tighten the rope, the competitor’s must wrap the rope around the saddle horn quickly and be sure to get their hands out of the way.”
  3. The term rodeo means to ‘go around’ or ‘round up’ in Spanish.
  4. “Cowboy Christmas,” is the unofficial term for the month of July when lots of rodeos and lots of prize money is up for grabs.
  5. The Team Roping event consists of a team of two riders, a ‘header’ and a ‘heeler.’ The header ropes the steer around the horns and then take a ‘dally’ – he/she wraps the rope around the horn of the saddle. The heeler waits until the header has turned the steer, then as soon as possible, throws a loop of rope under the running steer's hind legs and catches them. The event usually takes between 4 and 12 seconds.
  6. In 1940, Gene Autry became so popular as a rodeo singer that even today rodeo producers attract crowds with country singers headlining at rodeos.
  7. Bull wrestling, practiced long ago in Mediterranean countries including Spain, may have been an Olympic event in ancient Greece.
  8. Cowboys don’t refer to a rodeo as a competition. Generally it’s “the show” or “a rodeo.” If you draw a go after the main show is over, you’re “riding in the slack.”
  9. Cowboys usually do not ride stallions, they are unpredictable in a pasture and around other animals. Additionally, if a horse is left as a stud (not gelded) generally, he is valuable as a breeding animal and not risked in doing ranch work.
  10. The most successful cowboys – those who finish in the Top 15 and qualify for the National Finals Rodeo – might travel to as many as 125 rodeos per year, covering perhaps 100,000 miles.

If you would like to see a team roping team in action, check out this video from the 2016 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Harvest Meatballs

Since spring is in the air - at least in my part of the country - I'm beginning to drag out the recipes I cook when the weather warms and I don't want to turn on my oven.

Here's one of my favorite stove-top options. For whatever reason, probably because I'm too busy getting food on the table, I've never taken a photo of this recipe - so imagine this photo with a lot more fruit.

1 beaten egg
¼ cup milk
¾ bread crumbs
¼ chopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound pork sausage

¾ cup long-grain rice
1 ½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup butter
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ to 2 cups cubed fresh fruit (mix of apple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, grapes, papaya, peaches, nectarines, or pineapple. I’ve also used dried apricots.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
¼ cup lemon juice

In a bowl combine beaten egg and milk. Put ground beef and sausage in a mixing bowl. Stir in bread crumbs, milk/egg mixture, onion, salt, pepper and first ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Shape into 20-25 meatballs. Brown and cook thoroughly in large skillet. Drain and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine rice, chicken broth, parsley, and remaining cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or till rice is tender. While rice cooks, melt butter in a large skillet. Stir in brown sugar and blend. Add the fresh fruit mixture and cook 2 minutes or until warm. Blend together cornstarch and water and pour into fruit mixture. Cook on medium-low heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in lemon juice and add meatballs. Cover and heat through on low about 15 minutes. Serve over rice mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What Color Is Blue?

Writers spend lots of time playing with words in order to help readers see what we see in our mind’s eye – and to avoid using the same word over and over again to describe something. Take the word blue, for instance.

The first decision is – which shade of blue? Just trot on down to your local paint store and you begin to understand the dilemma. Are we talking about a light range – like powder blue – or a deeper shade – like a midnight blue in the chart below? (And I must admit that the navy and midnight blues look a lot the same to me.)

To compound the problem, blue often invites its color friends over to play. On one end of the spectrum when tinged with red, blue fades into purple (see Indigo). At the other end of the spectrum when tinged with yellow, blue transitions to green (see Teal).

The reason this is important is that we all have preconceived notions about what the things described look like. If I describe the blue as looking like the sea, which image below comes to mind? The more cyan blue of the image on the right or the more steel blue of the one on the left?

Cyan Blue
Steel Blue

Since most works of fiction don’t include pictures, I have to find a way to trigger an image in your mind of the scene I’ve invited you to join. If I tell you the water is the deep blue of the pacific, chances are you’ll think of something like the photo on the left. If I tell you the water is the clear blue of the Mediterranean, you’ll probably envision something like the image on the right.

The reason I started thinking about this is that one of the heroes in one of my books had blue eyes – more the light blue of a robin’s egg or a soft summer sky – but because it’s boring (to both me and the reader) to keep using the phrase 'light blue eyes,' I wanted to use another descriptor. I went with 'topaz eyes' because in my experience, topaz is a light blue. Apparently, not so to everyone. One of my beta readers made a note in her copy, “I thought his eyes were blue?” In her experience, topaz fell into the honey category.

Topaz Ring

Oh, well. Like I said, as authors we try our best!