Rhys Ford’s Dirty Rings: A Cole McGinnis Ringtone Set Voiced by Greg Tremblay

January 9, 2015

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So a funny thing happened on the way to a tweet, Greg Tremblay, the fantastic narrator of my Dirty series, texted me and said… hey, you should giveaway a custom ringtone. Or something to that effect. There was some discussion. A few emails and then well, long story short—there may have been some pixilated shots of whiskey and banter but a plan was formed. A plan so cunning I could have stuck a tail on it and called it a weasel.

Mostly, it involved Greg. And your phone. But it was still a plan!

After a furious, intense process of queries, eliminations, debating on who said what, we came up with a set of phrases from Cole, Bobby, Jae, Claudia, Scarlet and one from Maddy then Greg went to work. And returned to me with a brilliant sound bites forged by a narrative master—in the style of the characters’ voices.

So dear reader, as a thank you for everything you’ve done for Greg and me, I’d like to present the entire set of ringtones—twenty one in total—FREE, as a gift to you.

Available in Android (MP3) and iPhone (formats for Android and Apple phones, Greg has also graciously included the WAV files if that’s your thing. Download links to the zipped files are provided below.*

A great humongous thank you to all of the blogs who helped me with this guerilla gifting. This swirled up on Tuesday and Greg just MADE it happen. He is the voice of the series and I am forever grateful for his talent.

If you’ve not tried out Greg Tremblay’s narrations, please do so. He makes audiobooks fun and damn, he brings Cole and the others to life.

Greg Tremblay’s body of work can be found here—and yes, the Dirty series is there but so are many other lovely audio books. I highly recommend one of Greg’s audiobooks, a comfy chair, a pair of headphones and a nice hot cup of coffee… or tea… with or without whisky.

* These are copyrighted and available free for individual use. The files included in the zip cannot be sold by third parties nor can they be altered in anyway as to destroy the integrity of the original work. Animals were test subjects for these sound files and while the cat could not have given less of a shit, the dog seemed mighty interested. Please note, neither own nor use a phone or a computer so results may vary.

Love you all, and really, Thank You.

Rhys Ford

Dirty Rings Android MP3

Dirty Rings Apple M4a

Dirty Rings Apple M4r

Dirty Rings Wav

MOMENT OF IMPACT release day party – post 4

January 7, 2015

It’s Karen Stivali, one last time for the day! I’d like to thank everyone who has stopped by and commented and helped me celebrate the release of my New Adult novel MOMENT OF IMPACT.

If  you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, please scroll back to find an excerpt, some teasers and some info about me. Also please leave a comment  (on any of the posts) to be entered in a drawing to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar! (I’ll announce the winner in the comment section on this post on January 8 at noon EST). 

I’d like to leave you all with one final teaser for MOMENT IF IMPACT. Earlier I talked about how first kisses are my favorite thing to write. This clip kinda shows that I like to write second kisses almost as much. Okay…maybe just as much. *cheers*

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MOMENT OF IMPACT release day party – post 3

January 7, 2015

Hello, Karen Stivali still here for the day, celebrating the release of MOMENT OF IMPACT the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time.

I mentioned how much I adore the handsome model who graces the cover of MOMENT OF IMPACT. Here are some more beautiful shots of him with some teasers from the book. If you haven’t checked out the two earlier posts today, please do—and leave comments on any of them to be entered into the contest for a chance to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar!

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I just love the way his eyes sparkle. He’s the perfect Collin.

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MOMENT OF IMPACT release day party – post 2

January 7, 2015

Hello all! It’s Karen Stivali, here to tell you some more about my brand new release MOMENT OF IMPACT, the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time.  If you missed the first post of the release party, please scroll back or click the title so you can see more info about the book.

In keeping with the theme of firsts I’m going to talk about my own favorite first—first kisses. Not only are first kisses among my favorite personal memories, they’re my very favorite scenes to write in every single book. I love the build up, the sexual tension, the OMG-is-this-really-happening feeling. *sigh*

There are a lot of “firsts” in MOMENT OF IMPACT but I’m going to give you all a peek at the ever important First Kiss…

EXCERPT:

Don’t blow this. Not now. Not when he’s right here. So close. So… Forcing myself to move, I reached out and clutched at his shoulder. His skin was smooth, warm. I pressed my fingers into his flesh with enough force, he flinched. His gaze darted to mine, wary.

Swallowing hard, I willed myself to maintain eye contact. “I didn’t think I wanted that, until I met you.”

Tanner’s gaze raced back and forth between my hand, which was still gripping his shoulder, and my eyes, which felt like they were about to bulge out of my skull. I couldn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Do something. Say something.

Then his mouth crashed into mine.

I like kissing. I always have. Even though I wasn’t super into any of the girls I’d been with, kissing was the one thing I still enjoyed. Warm mouths, wet tongues, moving together. It felt good. I seriously thought I’d done some decent kissing in my life.

I was wrong. Tanner’s mouth on mine for one fucking second proved to me that what I’d done before might have looked like kissing, might have felt like kissing, but was like the frozen french  bread pizza version of kissing. Nothing like the real thing.

Nothing like this.

His tongue swept into my mouth, hot and velvety. His hand gripped the back of my neck, tugging me upright. Everything fell away. Disappeared. The whole world was this one kiss. I could have drowned in it and died happy.

Tanner pulled away, breathing hard, his forehead pressed to mine. The room spun like a carnival ride.

“You okay?”

His voice sounded lower than usual. Deep and gravelly. I gave a shaky nod, and he tipped his head back, looking at me.

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” My heart beat double time as I realized he still had his hands on me. And he was still naked. And I was probably harder than I’d ever been in my entire life. Jesus.

“We can stop.”

“No.” That wasn’t what I wanted. Not at all. “I just… I mean… we’re roommates. What if this doesn’t work out?”

Tanner’s lips pulled into a grin so sexy my brain turned to oatmeal. He rubbed the back of my neck. “So, one kiss and you’re already thinking about what happens if we break up?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s see how we feel after another kiss.”

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Take a moment to leave me a comment and tell me: Where did your all-time best first kiss take place? 

Each comment will give you one entry in a giveaway for a Warwick Rowers 2015 calendar (more details in previous post).

Stay tuned for more posts…in the meantime come follow or chat with me on Twitter or Facebook!

Release Day Party for MOMENT OF IMPACT

January 7, 2015

 

 

Hello Dreamspinner readers! My name is Karen Stivali. Welcome to the release day party for MOMENT OF IMPACT, the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time!  Let me take a moment to introduce myself, then we’ll get down to the good stuff (book talk, sexy guys and a giveaway!).

With all the unfortunate news lately about people stealing identities and using fake photos I want part of my introduction to be a photo. It’s really me. This was taken in the foyer of my home in NH a few months ago. It may not be the most professional looking photo, but the main reason I post photos of myself is so people can recognize me when I attend conferences because meeting readers and other authors is one of my favorite parts of being a writer!

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MOMENT OF IMPACT represents a lot of firsts for me. Although I’ve been a published contemporary romance author for the past four years this is my first m/m novel and I couldn’t be happier about having this debut with Dreamspinner Press. While my other novels have all had m/f pairings for the romantic leads in the stories, I often had secondary characters who were GLBT characters—and I don’t mean just the stereotypical gay BFF for comic relief—I mean complex characters with lives and relationships of their own who were essential to the storyline. I was actually attempting to work on a different novel when Collin and Tanner, the main characters in MOMENT OF IMPACT started talking in my head non-stop and I knew they needed  a story of their own. I love all the characters I’ve created, but I have to say these two hold a special place in my heart. Not only did I have a ridiculous amount of fun writing about them, but Collin is the first character who’s ever inspired me to write in first person. My characters always chatter away in my head but something about his voice told me he needed to be the one to tell his story in his own words.

Now for a much more important photo, here’s my beautiful cover for MOMENT OF IMPACT. When I stumbled across the photo of this model (and by stumbled across I mean after hours on end of searching stock photo sites) I found this image and immediately knew that model was Collin—-everything about it, the lovely blond hair, the insanely blue eyes, the expression that mixes innocence and heat—it was him. I’m extremely grateful to the wonderful and crazy-talented art department at Dreamspinner for using this photo and crafting it into such breathtakingly beautiful cover—it’s perfect!

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Here’s the blurb…

Outside Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love. The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tanner’s not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

Since this book represents firsts for me (first book with Dreamspinner, first m/m romance, first person point of view, first book in a new series) and it’s the first month of the new year, I’d like to offer a calendar as a giveaway. Not just any calendar—my favorite calendar—the Warwick Rowers 2015 calendar. If you’re not familiar with the Warwick Rowers, they’re a lovely group of gorgeous British rowers who raise awareness to fight homophobia in sports through their organization Sport Allies. And their beatiful (and award winning) charity calendars make it difficult not to support their cause!

My giveaway will run for the entire day (I’ll choose one winner at random at midnight and contact them the next day). To enter the giveaway leave a comment on this post (or any of the other posts I make on this site during today’s release party) and tell me what your favorite kind of “first” is—first date? First kiss? First day of school? First bite of a pizza you’ve been drooling over the smell of on the entire drive home from the pizza place? (Now I want pizza.)

Also for an extra entry in the giveaway pop over to Facebook, like my author page, and leave me a note saying you saw me here!

You can purchase MOMENT OF IMPACT at Dreamspinner, Amazon, All Romance E-books and other retailers or add it to your TBR list at Goodreads.

And if you’d like to know more about me or my other novels feel free to visit my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Check back for other blog posts here throughout the day—I’ll be posting teasers, an excerpt and a few more pictures. And don’t forget to leave me a comment for a chance to win the calendar!

The Wheat Paste Heart by Tray Ellis

January 6, 2015

“You know this is illegal, right?”

Saxon only paused for a moment to shrug his shoulders and then he continued to apply the homemade wheat paste to the wall with the small paint roller.  Tonight he was installing a series of small posters, ranging from the size of his hand to that of the front of a folded out newspaper.  He’d been working on this project for weeks.  If he had to get caught, he’d have wanted it to be after the display was up and set, but he’d have preferred not to found out at all. He was caught, but he wasn’t stopped. Not yet.  So he kept working.

With the concrete retaining wall covered in sticky, wet paste Saxon put the roller away into a plastic bag and retrieved the folder containing his artwork. He flipped it open to reveal the overall schematic. He’d been doing guerrilla art for nearly a year and a lot of it had been trial and error, but now he had some knowledge and tonight’s project was the culmination of a lot of effort.  The location was risky, but it had been too important not to attempt.  It made all the difference and he wasn’t going to back away.

“If you get caught, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

That made Saxon turn to address his unexpected visitor. “If?” he asked. It seemed the most important aspect of the previous statement.

James scuffed his foot on the ground and it was difficult to read his expression in the nighttime darkness. “I’m not a snitch,” he said.

Saxon thought about that for a moment.  “Thanks,” he finally said.  He looked around him, considering.  It was the middle of the night and he was in a generally non-visible section of a pathway near his high school.  A concrete retaining wall had been built into the ground with a direct sightline from the path, which kids used constantly during the day.  If James was traveling here at this time of night, then he’d been sneaking out as well.  Probably it was more trouble to mention this fact than it’d be worth to confront James with it, and besides, it seemed he wasn’t going to reveal Saxon’s complicity.    ”I only need fifteen more minutes and this’ll be done,” Saxon added and then he returned to his task.

James moved closer, hovering, and glancing at Saxon’s materials.  “What are you doing? Can I help?”

“Sure.”  Saxon handed over the schematic.  “I’m putting these up.  Make sure I have it all in the right place.  Each piece will be part of the whole picture.”

James squinted at the schematic.  The moon was almost full in the clear night sky, shedding a lot of light, but it would still be hard to read. Saxon had waited for the perfect night.  He’d needed enough natural moonlight to work without a flashlight and good weather.  It had rained heavily for the past week and tonight had seemed optimum.

Saxon didn’t need to review the drawing.  He already knew by heart where everything went.

The overall design incorporated more than two dozen drawings of hot air balloons.  Each balloon was heart-shaped with a unique pattern. Each basket below held a single individual.  They were all arranged to seem to float magnificently and peacefully in the sky.  Below them were a handful of terrible, savage creatures with mean eyes and frightful postures, holding different types weapons. Saxon had adorned each with a capital B on their chest, painted bright scarlet, and he had to thank Mr. Beezy someday for the extra reading assignments or else he wouldn’t have known to make that connection.  One of the tormentors had hit his mark.  There was a ragged hole in a beautiful balloon and it was losing altitude, about to crash to the earth.  The individual in the basket was certainly doomed.

Saxon placed the very last piece of paper onto the pasted wall, smoothing it in place so that it adhered strongly:  STOP BULLYING.

He stepped back to look over the entire scene.  The whole installation was over fifteen feet wide and six feet high. The adrenaline he’d felt rushing through him the whole night ebbed away.  He felt calm and serene, his heart as full and light as the hot-air balloons.  Tomorrow, everyone would see it.

“Wow,” James said.

“It has to stop.”  Saxon was tired.  Tired of hiding who he was and tired of waiting, always waiting for some distant day in the future when it would get better. He was tired of being afraid, tired of letting slip that he had different ideas about boys and girls than most of his schoolmates. He looked over at James. “You won’t tell?”

He didn’t know James well. They had different classes and different interests.  James was athletic, but wasn’t a star performer.  He was smart, but not top of the class.  He blended in and never made waves.  Suddenly, he realized that James might be more like him than not.  People who were different sometimes spent their whole lives hiding in plain sight.

“I won’t tell,” James promised, with the solemn childhood gesture of crossing a finger over his heart. He held out a hand.

Saxon looked at it for a moment, surprised.  Then he reached out and shook.  It felt odd and very grown-up.

“If you do something like this again, call me.  I’ll help.”

“Okay,” Saxon said. Then James helped him stuff the last of his materials into his backpack and, convinced he hadn’t left any telltale evidence behind, they exchanged a last serious look, and each went their own way into the dark.

______________________________

Tray Ellis grew up with two brothers and many cats and dogs. Her family loves to cook, eat, sit around talking, and quote old movies at each other. The more laughter the better, and her family loves to laugh. Tray has a completely romantic view of autumn, and thinks it is the perfect season and an excellent source of writing inspiration. When she isn’t writing, she keeps busy by jogging, fishing, cooking, baking, and keeping her home in some semblance of order. (Perhaps she has completely exaggerated that her home is in any kind of order whatsoever.) She can be found at her website and Facebook.

Sweet Fire Release Party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 4

January 3, 2015

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Good afternoon and welcome back to our Sweet Fire release blog party.  Thanks so much to the folks at Dreamspinner to let us pig up so much time here.

Shannen and I love to go to writer conventions. Gay or straight, romance or scifi, we enjoy them all. Besides soaking in all the information and the creative energy floating around those places, we love basking in the reflected glory of our favorite authors and we get a charge out of doing our part to pull LGBTQ fiction into the mainstream light. This is us at the Emerald City conference in Seattle in October.

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Unfortunately the only picture we have is a little too close and you can’t see the other end of the table, where our Sweet Fire cover presided in full poster size glory over our pile of cream puff recipe cards. (And yes, the color of the photo is true – Shannen really does have purple hair. It matches her Edge of Chaos tattoo.)

Sitting there at our little split personality table with m/f on one end and m/m on the other, we got a lot of questions about why we would choose to write both, or why two women would choose to write m/m at all.  The answer to that is pretty easy.  We write love stories. Not gay love stories or straight love stories or LGBTQ love stories.  We just find characters we like bouncing around in the chaos of our brains and we write the stories they need us to write.

Our first novel, Healer, is m/f and that female character had been in my head in one form or another for decades.  In the process of writing that book, we discovered Aaron Flores.  Aaron was our heroine’s cousin, a secondary hero with awesome pyro-kinetic power who risked his life and his freedom so his beloved cousin Alex could have her own freedom and a chance at love.  He wanted that Happily-Ever-After for himself too and before we even finished the first book we were looking for ways to get it for him. As Aaron is out and proud, that’s where the story needed to go.  It really is that simple. We love Aaron. Aaron loves men. We found him a hot one.  The fact that the studly Ramón Del Rio, Alex’s EMT partner, was available was Aaron’s lucky break. Lucky in more ways than one, as Ramón turned out to be a bad-ass martial artist in his own right and didn’t hesitate to step up and play guardian angel as needed.

Excerpt:

The oven turned out to be too old and battered for Aaron to bother with, and something about the owner made Aaron pat his pocket to make sure the cash he’d brought to buy it was still there when he and Ramón stepped back onto the sidewalk.

“I’d say I’m sorry for dragging you down here for nothing, but that would be a lie.”

Ramón stopped walking. Aaron kept going for a couple of steps before he realized he’d left his companion behind. Turning around, he found Ramón staring at him, a troubled expression on his handsome face. Aaron wanted to brick his own mouth shut.

“Aaron, I don’t….” A movement behind him had Aaron reaching out a hand to stop him. Ramón stared at Aaron for a minute, then followed his gaze over his shoulder and turned quickly around.

Two young men swaggered down the sidewalk toward them. A quick glance the other way showed a third crossing the street and closing in on the other side. All three men wore baggy jeans and dark hooded sweatshirts, and Aaron doubted very much they were headed for the theater. Shit. I guess they weren’t kidding about this neighborhood at night.

Once again Ramón took on his bodyguard role, reaching back to ease Aaron behind him as he turned his back to the wall so he could keep an eye on all three men. Cars sped by, oblivious, on Third Avenue a block away, but not a single car moved on their silent street. As the three men closed in, one of them put a hand conspicuously in his right jacket pocket. Aaron leaned forward and laid a hand on Ramón’s back. He kept his voice to a bare murmur.

“Maybe a gun, on the right.”

Ramón nodded slightly. “Got it.”

“It’s just money, Ramón. I don’t want you getting hurt over it.”

The man in the center, his hair caught in a ragged red braid, grinned a nasty, jagged smile. His voice was as rough as his teeth.

“Listen to your boy toy, big man. You wouldn’t want to get hurt now.”

The goon to the right moved his hand in his pocket, making sure again that they didn’t miss the motion.

“I think you boys got somethin’ we want, yeah? Give it up.”

Aaron pulled out his wallet. Ignoring Ramón’s attempts to corral him behind his bigger body, Aaron removed a fifty and held it out to the man on his left. The man sneered at the cash with contempt.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure you got more than that, pretty boy. Where’s the rest of it?”

Ramón growled. “Fuck you. Take it and go.” He reached back without looking, took the money, and held it out in front of him, again putting himself between Aaron and the other men.

Damn, that’d be annoying as hell if it wasn’t so hot. Behind him, Aaron braced himself, all his attention on the pocket of the creeper on the right. If that gun came out, he wanted to be ready.

The thug in the center stepped forward one more step. “Don’t bother handing over the money, asshole. I think we’ll just take what we want.”

The gun came out, and, predictably, Ramón shifted to the right. Goddammit, you’re not taking a bullet for me. Aaron stepped right too and reached out with his Gift.

“Fuck!” the gunman swore as Ramón moved. The gun clicked impotently even as a large brown hand closed over it. Almost faster than Aaron’s eyes could follow, Ramón’s right elbow hit the gunman hard across the face, followed even faster by the back of Ramón’s right hand, now weighted by the heavy black weapon. Aaron turned his attention to the other two goons, and while Ramón’s brutal kick to the reeling gunman’s gut sent the man sprawling on the sidewalk, two small blue balls of fire came to life on Aaron’s open palms. Ramón shifted rapidly to face the two men and keep himself protectively in front of Aaron.

The two remaining muggers scrambled to stop their forward motion, staring wide eyed from the impossible fireballs burning on Aaron’s hands to the still form of their buddy sprawled on the sidewalk. Ramón brought their own gun to bear on them with both hands, and that was all it took. The two goons pelted desperately back down the street away from their targets, abandoning their partner without a backward glance.

Aaron closed his hands, dousing the small fireballs even as his valiant defender lowered the gun and turned to face him. Aaron didn’t give Ramón so much as a moment to catch his breath before he threw his arms around the man’s neck and pressed their mouths together in an exuberant kiss.

 

 

My son, Shannen’s younger brother Derek, is a martial artist himself, which has turned out to be pretty handy for us.  He choreographs all our fight scenes so we know we’re using moves that would actually work in real life and he’s started doing the same for our author friends.  Fun stuff. Any other martial artists out there?  Tell us what you practice and why you like it for an entry to the drawing.

Check out Healer and see where Aaron and Ramón started out.

SMP_Healer_SarahShannenBrady_200x300 50 percent       SweetFire Cover small

I love how these two covers, by different artists and publishers, fit together.  The two books are the beginnings of two related series.   Click on the covers for buy links.

Sweet Fire Release Party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 3

January 3, 2015

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Welcome back to Sarah and Shannen Brady’s blog party for the release of Sweet Fire! Shannen here, and for the past few years, I’ve been a college student slash romance writer. This is a situation I’ve been in since 2011, and has finally come to an end – I graduated from college, started my first real grown-up job and released Sweet Fire within weeks of each other. It’s been a hectic month, but one for the record books.

As a reader, I always assumed that authors’ characters were completely unrelated to their regular lives. I didn’t think their families, goals, passions and pet peeves pertained to the characters they created. It wasn’t until I started writing fiction that I realized how wrong I was.

I suppose some writers infuse little inspiration from their own lives into their books, but I’ve found that our art imitates life. In Sweet Fire, I noticed that in the scenes Mom wrote, Ramon took on a few characteristics of my father, to whom she’s been married for almost 30 years. (I promise writing with Mommy Dearest is only weird sometimes. More on that later.) We incorporate stories of my and my brother’s childhood escapades and jokes our family tells around the dinner table. Hell, the idea for our (unfinished, unpublished) first book was conceived in an excruciatingly boring lecture class my freshman year of college.

In Aaron and Ramon’s story, one of the things that came through from our real life was the desire to show non-het relationships in a wonderful, touching, successful light. Too often, gay characters in the het novels we were reading, if there were any at all, were relegated to comic relief or faced tragic endings, and that wasn’t acceptable to us. I’m bisexual, and my experiences with that definitely influenced what I wanted to give our characters. I’m fortunate to be working with a mother who is incredibly open-minded, accepting and generally awesome; she was as gung-ho about foraying into m/m as I was, if not more so!

Ultimately, I think that kind of honesty makes the best stories. Romance stories can still be tales of rich lives – sometimes rosy ones, in which the heroine’s hair always looks good, the guy always gets the girl (or the other guy,) and the hero can get it up 5 times a day. And that’s the beauty of it: a Happily-Ever-After is universal! (And so is kissing the frogs. Lots and lots of frogs.)

Speaking of real life, bonus cute pics! Everybody loves puppies. If you don’t, I don’t entirely trust you. And because everyone loves puppies, I’m going to show you pictures of mine. This is Chubbers, or Lil’ Bub. (We only call him Dammit on special occasions.) He’s 1 ½ year old corgi that loves his toy elephant only slightly less than he loves cheese.

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Hey, Sarah here butting in:  My “grandchild” pictures at this point consist of hairy little guys with short legs and big ears and I’ve gotten kind of attached to them.  Anyone else have a super cute picture of your four-legged “child” you’d like to share?  We’d love to see them. (And Shannen, I thought his name was Don’tEatThat.)

Speaking of eating, even though there are no pets in the book, a pet picture or funny pet story will get you an entry in the drawing for the goodies. Don’t miss it.

 

Sweet Fire Release Party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 2

January 3, 2015

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Hi again.  Sarah here. Now that it’s midmorning  in our part of the world and we’re thinking about food, I thought I’d share with you Aaron’s favorite chocolate cream puff recipe.  Ramón’s quite a chocolate fiend and Aaron doesn’t hesitate to exploit that weakness, using food to reel his reluctant man in. He brings gourmet goodies to the hospital as Ramón is getting ready to start his shift as a paramedic, charming not only Ramón but all his EMT co-workers as well.

Sweet Nothings Mini Chocolate Cream Puffs

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Pastry

½ cup water

½ cup whole milk

½ c unsalted butter (cut into pieces)

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup all purpose flour

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil Add salt and flour all at once and stir until a mixture forms a smooth ball. Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each one. Drop batter by level teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Immediately split each puff and cool on wire rack. Remove any soft dough in the center.

Chocolate Cream

 7 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

3 cups cold heavy whipping cream

¼ cup sugar

Chop chocolate into small bits (if not using chocolate chips) and set aside

Combine 1 ½ cups cream with sugar and heat to just barely boiling, then pour over chocolate. Whisk until combined and chocolate is melted. Refrigerate to cool completely. Once cooled, whip chocolate mixture with remains of heavy cream until smooth and fluffy.

Pipe chocolate cream into pastry puffs. A drizzle of dark, milk or white chocolate is optional. Top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Anyone who answers one of our questions today will be entered to win a gift basket of locally made Spokane yumminess, including Bruttles’ signature soft peanut brittle. The treat was originally invented 60 years ago for the turn down service in the beautiful Davenport Hotel. Food of the gods, I swear. Goodie bag also includes Huckleberry coffee, chocolate covered huckleberries, mocha espresso bark and a sampling of locally made sweets to die for. Retail value over $30 but priceless if you live outside Spokane and can’t get any.

Bruttles-Soft-Peanut-Butter-Brittle gift for giveaway

 

First question for you:  Anyone out there ever been courted with food?  Ever tried to impress a date with your awesome culinary skills?  How’d it go?

(I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.  My Thanksgiving stinkbug story’s pretty epic. Fortunately that one’s over 30 years old.  I can almost look my in-laws in the eyes by now.)

 

Excerpt – Ramón’s being Mr. Grumpy Pants, though it doesn’t stop him from pigging out:

“Ohgodohgodohgod!” The sighs and low curses coming from around the table already sounded more like an orgy than breakfast, but Terrell Sato’s sultry groan rose above the general noise. They both turned to watch in amazement as Terrell finished sucking the cream filling out of the end of one of the little éclairs with an orgasmic shudder. Ramón shot Aaron an embarrassed look and caught him staring at Sato’s performance with wide eyes. A faint pink flush highlighted his chiseled cheekbones. For some reason that was really annoying.

“Oh, come on. It wasn’t that hot.”

Aaron responded with a slight shrug but didn’t stop watching Terrell chase the last of the cream on his lips with his tongue.

“Yeah, it kind of was.”

The rest of the crew was watching the show now too, some with grins, a couple with grimaces of distaste, and a few of both sexes with eyes as wide as Aaron’s. Oh, enough already.

“Sato, you’re not even an EMT. What the hell are you doing here?” Terrell was a nurse in the ER and really shouldn’t be in this room anyway.

“I’m on escort duty. You don’t think your friend here got past security with all this just ’cause he’s cute, now do you?” Terrell prowled toward them, stripping their visitor naked with his eyes the whole way. “Though I would have let him in even without the goodies.”

Apparently the food supply was running low, because more of the greedy piglets had stopped scarfing long enough to play along.

“I would have let him come in too.”

“For food like this, I would have let him do anything he wanted.”

“For this, I would have let him marry me.” This from a woman who knew damn well she’d never have to deliver.

“For this, I would have let him do me in the broom closet.” That, surprisingly, was from a man who wasn’t Terrell.

Aaron was eating it up, blushing bright red and laughing hysterically as the offers got more and more outrageous. It seemed the whole EMT staff was made up of food whores who’d do anything for a cream puff. Ramón found himself chewing hard on the inside of his lip to keep from joining in. These clowns weren’t nearly as funny as they thought they were, but this man was positively stunning when he smiled like that. Still, he was more trouble than he was worth, and that hadn’t changed. It wouldn’t do to encourage him.

 

P.S. – Terrell Sato’s story is book 3 in the series.  Stay tuned…

Click here to go to our web site and see descriptions of Terrell’s story and all the other books in our Gifted and Gifts of Fate series. Just don’t forget to come back and give us a food story to get your entry to the goodie drawing.

 

Sweet Fire release party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 1

January 3, 2015

  SweetFire_headerbanner

             shannen and sarah

 Good Morning. It’s finally here!!! (pause while I do a really silly happy dance…….. OK, I’m back. Sorry.)  We’re so stoked about the release of Sweet Fire.  That’s partly because it’s our first Dreamspinner book and partly because we both just love these characters so much.  I’m thrilled to finally get to share them.

Don’t get confused if you hear me say “I” or “We” interchangeably.  We are a mother/daughter team and we write paranormal romance, both m/m and m/f, together.  I’m Sarah, the mom part of the team.  Shannen will be chiming in off and on throughout the day and we’ll try to make it clear who’s talking. There will be lots of opportunities later today to fill you in on the details of how and why a family would do something so weird as to write steamy romance together but I want to get to the really good stuff first.  Let’s have a look at the book.

SweetFire Cover

Love this beautiful Christy Caughie cover, yeah? That night scene is Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington.

Between Homeland Security’s Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace, having paranormal Gifts is a dangerous thing. Pyrokinetic Aaron Flores knows firsthand how difficult it can be to control his power. Still, he runs his bakery and never gives up on finding his Happily Ever After. When Aaron’s cousin asks him to check on her former EMT partner, Aaron’s chance has finally arrived. He’s determined not to let anything stop him from catching (and keeping) his man.

Ramón Del Rio spent three days at the tender mercies of HOMSEC agents when his former partner was taken. He wants nothing to do with a Gifted guy, but Aaron is nothing if not persistent. He’s a pastry chef after all, and the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach. The physical passion they share is the icing on the cake. Just when Ramón decides that having Gifts might not be a deal breaker, someone close to Aaron decides his fire needs to be put out—permanently. Ramón will have to face his fears to save them both.

Click here to check it out on the Dreamspinner site.

Die-hard Kindlers can get it on Amazon here.

 

Excerpt:

“I hear we had company this afternoon.”

Sophia’s voice was amused, and Victoria hid her face behind her napkin with a giggle as Ramón glared at her. He was going to have to tread carefully here. There was no way he was going to discuss Alex’s escape from Homeland Security in front of the girls. He held his sister’s eyes for a long moment. Her sculpted eyebrows rose, but she nodded. He’d still have to fill her in, but it would wait until the girls weren’t around. Too bad Victoria didn’t share her mother’s discretion.

“He was super cute, mama, with fancy hair, and he had sparkles on the pockets of his jeans, just like mine.”

Sophia’s eyebrows rose again. “Really? A cute gay guy comes to visit you, and you didn’t even invite him in? That’s not very good manners at all, brother.”

Both girls laughed hysterically to hear Uncle Ramón getting “told” by Mama, and six-year-old Adelina’s singing was gleeful.

“Un-cle’s in trou-ble.”

“That’s enough of that, Adel. Eat your dinner.” Ramón kept his voice calm. She was being rude, and singing at the table was against Sophia’s rules, but it wasn’t that much of an offense. Most of his aggravation was with himself and the flush of heat that ran through his body at the thought of this afternoon’s visitor.

“We just had to talk about a few things, that’s all. I don’t imagine he’ll be back.” Too bad, though. It’s a damn shame an ass that fine should turn out to be on a Gifted guy. Ramón turned his attention back to his food, but the girls weren’t finished with him yet.

I think he should come back and you should go out with him. You need a boyfriend.”

Jesus, Victoria. Ramón choked and tried not to spray iced tea across the kitchen table while Sophia cracked up. He never made any secret of the fact that he was gay, but he didn’t rub anyone’s nose in it either. He certainly never brought men around the girls. Victoria eyed him smugly across the table, but Adelina only looked confused.

“Why would you need a boyfriend, Uncle Ramón, instead of a girlfriend?”

Oh, jeez. Here we go. Adel was so cute sitting there with her thick black curls, her mouth covered in enchilada sauce and her perfect eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. Ramón sucked in a breath, stalling for time while his mind raced in circles, trying to figure out just how much to say. Thank heaven, Sophia rescued him.

“Adelina, Uncle Ramón doesn’t like women in that way. He’d rather have a boyfriend.”

Now Victoria choked and snorted milk out of her nose. For a minute he was able to occupy himself mopping up and patting her on the back, but eventually he had to look at Adelina. Sophia’s littlest sat there with her messy little mouth pursed thoughtfully for a long moment. Then her expression cleared.

“I don’t blame you, Uncle Ramón. I’d rather have a boyfriend too. Tommy Adkins says he wants to be my boyfriend, and he gave me one of his cookies at snack time yesterday. Can I watch my princess movie now?”

That’s it? That’s all there is to it? Ramón shared an incredulous smile with his sister. Still grinning, Sophia shrugged and got up to start the movie. I guess that’s all there is when you’re six.

Too bad things got more complicated once you grew up. Ramón got up and started cleaning the table, and he couldn’t help but think how long it had been since he’d had a boyfriend. Since his run-in with HOMSEC, he hadn’t even been to his usual club for dancing or a quick hookup. The image of his hot visitor popped into his head in spite of his best efforts to keep it out. The guy smells like sugar and works in a bakery. I bet he’d give a good “cookie.”

 

 

 

We’ll be giving away some yummy goodies today.  Come back and see us a little later for a chance to win and to get the recipe for Sweet Nothings’ Sweet Shoppe’s signature chocolate cream puffs (or How to Win Your Man – Lesson 1.)  Yum!