Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getting My Rocks On...

A rainbow of rocks
Yep. I'll admit it. I loved rocks when I was a kid. *me=nerd* On those family driving trips, when we'd stop at the "souvenir shops", I'd immediately head to the bins of polished up rocks to spend my dollar on a bag 'o pretties.
One of the museum's prize displays

I recaptured my youth in a big way this past weekend when I found we have a world-class museum (The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals) right here in town...plus a free pass for admission through the library system. You'd never imagine by looking at the exterior of the house what it contains. Here are some of my favorite shots from this amazing place.

Aptly named picture jasper cross-section. Reminded me of Japanese art.
I thought this opal looked like a chicken...daughter said parrot.
More of the very cool jasper that looked to me like a painting of a river in the forest
Thundereggs--the state rock. Don't look like much on the outside, but open em up...
Amazing jade carving..wonder how long it took the artist?
A gorgeous array of agates
Huge cross-sections of petrified trees
More petrified wood. The ones with the big, dark center are palms.
The kitchen fireplace (it used to be a house), and my oldest doing some photography of the copper.
Little one goes right for the real deal...pure gold, in a huge safe.
Beautiful malachite--again, looking like art.
I remember doing this as a kid--have to get some started for the girls to grow.

Petrified dinosaur nest of eggs.

Loved the fossilized starfish.

The fossil crabs looked like they might scurry away.


New breed of dinosaur, just discovered last decade.

Nice kitty...

These shots are just a drop in the bucket. Three hours wasn't nearly enough time, so I'll have to go back again soon.

Of course, we made a stop in the gift shop on the way out, and it was way cool (and jawdroppingly inexpensive to get some neat stuff). Plus the girls got to go through the "discard pile" and choose a freebie to take home...extra bits of amazing rocks left over from when they prepare a display.

And me? I got some rocks (dangly amethyst chip earrings to be exact)...for a dollar...just like the old days. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Final Day for the Hero Blog Tour!

Last day to enter for a chance at the $25 gift card! I'm also giving away a copy of A Ring and A Promise over at Simone's blog today, so go comment to enter. It's that easy! See you there! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Can't I Read This (Supposedly Awesome) Book??

Some of you know by now that I'm pretty organized. So I have an intricate filing system that works for me, even with my reading library. Books I've bought (or won), but not yet read, sit in the "Want To Read" folder until I'm done reading them. Then they either get deleted (if I think I'm not going to read it again..sadly that does happen) or filed in the appropriate subfolder (by genre/gender combo/author/series if applicable).

I give myself little rewards after I reach goals by, you guessed it, letting myself choose something to read from that WTR (or more commonly TBR) folder. Finish an edit? Read a novella. Write a chapter? Read the next in the a series. Etc, etc.

So this week I was ready for a read and thought, okay, I'll read the oldest TBR. So I opened it...and just couldn't get into it.


Yes, this was about the fifth (not joking..I'd say at least fifth, maybe more) time I've tried to start this particular book. I bought it almost two years ago. Why don't I just delete it? Well, a part of me wants to, just to get it over with. But this book is by an iconic, favorite author in the MM genre, and people (readers, writers, bloggers, reviewers, etc) gush about the author in general and this book in particular. But I just. Can't. Read. It.

I have no idea why. I'm patient enough to wade through muck to get through other less acclaimed books just fine. I can make it through some truly icky submission evals. But this book just defeats me every time.

Maybe it's because it is so vaunted. After all, a book so highly regarded should pull you in from the get-go, right? I know a slow build can turn into the "best book ever!" Some of my all-time favorite books get off to a "slow" start...think Caught Running or Faith and Fidelity or Promises. I should really give it a shot, but can't seem to get over the hump, so to speak.

Has this ever happened to you? Any suggestions? I will have bought this two years ago in April, and I do NOT want a two year old TBR in my folder, so any and all over-the-hump help is appreciated! :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Drop and Give Me... Holding Out For A Blog Tour: Sexy Excerpt from Sue Holston

 This is the first stop on this week’s Drop and Give Me…Holding out for a Hero blog tour. Many thanks to Devon for inviting us. To celebrate Sue and mine’s new release, we are offering up free copy of our book and a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate at the end of the tour. So make sure you enter the contest on all five days to increase your chances of winning! 

Since this is Valentine’s Week, we’ve all shared our favorite smex scenes from our books. Enjoy!

Monday: Devon Rhodes hosts Sue Holston
Tuesday: Sue Holston hosts Em Woods
Wednesday: Em Woods hosts Sara York
Thursday: Sara York hosts Simone Anderson
Friday: Simone Anderson hosts Devon Rhodes

 An excerpt from In the Name of the Law, by Sue Holston:

Wanting to comfort the man he loved, he leaned over and briefly kissed Ivan, pulling away after brushing his lips against Ivan’s stubbled chin.

He was utterly surprised when Ivan, instead of shoving him away, pulled him in close and kissed him back. He hadn’t realised his partner was awake and responsive to his gesture of comfort. As Ivan deepened the kiss, Mitch knew he should stop it then and there, but it felt so good, and he was only human. He knew this might be his only chance to touch Ivan this way, and right there he decided he’d take it. 

Lightly stroking Ivan’s lips with his tongue, Mitch encircled his partner’s nape with his right hand, feeling the fine locks beneath his fingertips as something sweet and tingly tightened things low in his belly.

Just this once, Mitch would give in to temptation. He opened his mouth wider and plunged into Ivan’s heated moistness. Tongues met, and Mitch heard Ivan moan as if in pure pleasure. Taking his time, Mitch explored every inch of that mouth, teasing the tongue, sucking gently against the lower lip, nipping it then soothing. Never before had he been so turned on by just a kiss.

Mitch was caught up in the passion and desire of the kiss. Ever so greedy, he clamoured for more from him—he wanted Ivan naked beneath him. He wanted to see the ecstasy in his partner’s eyes when they both climaxed together. He wanted to make love to Ivan until he would fall in love with him, only him, forgetting his ex-fiancĂ©e forever.

Never breaking the embrace, Mitch started caressing Ivan’s pale chest. Knowing this opportunity was probably a once in a lifetime thing, he took every advantage. He petted Ivan everywhere—trailing his hands through Ivan’s blond hair, caressing his shoulder, then finally allowing himself to find Ivan’s nipple. Stroking softly, his thumb fondled the taut bud. A soft cry of pleasure came from Ivan’s throat.

“Please, Mitch, don’t stop,” Ivan moaned.

Mitch complied. How could he refuse?


To win a copy of our book, just leave a comment, making sure to leave your email address, and not only will you be entered to win our Amazon Gift Certificate, but you will also be entered for a copy of In the Name of the Law. Thanks for stopping by! You can find us at:

Our Blog: http://sueholston.blogspot.com
Our Livejournal: http://sue-holston.livejournal.com

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New Release, New Phone, Blog Tour and Other Stuff

Hi everyone! I've been really busy working...my muse finally allowed me a huge burst of creativity, which I've been balancing with editing. You'll probably be able to tell when the well runs dry, as I'll be more active online. So, no news is good news!

A Ring and A Promise releases as a single tomorrow for those of you who either don't buy anthos or just haven't got 'round to it. It's already available on presale if you can't wait another nine hours. :) I love this story, and my military guys are very dear to my heart. Love my cover too! :) Since I don't want to be repetitive, see past posts for excerpts and here's the blurb:

Careers in military service are never easy on relationships—even less so when both lovers are in different branches...and both are men.

Naval Academy graduation now under their belts, Cary Barrientos knows the reality of the upcoming separation from his roommate of the past four years. Owen is more to him than just his best friend—he is the one person Cary can see spending his life with.

Owen Marsh knew that when he became Cary’s lover, the day would come when he would have to walk away. Now that day has come, and he’s having a hard time convincing himself that it’s just sex between them. Even with DADT repealed, there is no way a Marine and a Navy flier can be together. He’s just being realistic not expecting more.

When Cary switches their Academy rings, hoping Owen won’t notice, he makes a vow—he will do whatever he has to do, including believing enough for the both of them, to make their unlikely relationship stand the test of time. But when his Marine is called up for duty overseas, can a piece of jewellery and a promise be enough to get them through?


This week I'm part of a blog tour with four other authors, and we'll be posting smexy excerpts every day on our blogs.  On Monday, I'll be hosting Sue Holston, and so forth until I'm on Simone Anderson's blog on Friday. Just comment on each blog stop for an entry to win a $25 Amazon gift card. So easy! I'll also be giving away a copy of A Ring and A Promise on Simone's blog Friday. Details, links and the first stop here on my blog tomorrow!


The lovely and gracious Chris over at Stumbling Over Chaos is having a giveaway of A Ring and A Promise, so be sure to pop over and comment by tomorrow, Monday, at 7pm CST. :)


I got my first smartphone last week! Before that, the last phone I had was a flip phone from 2005, so yeah...big change in my life! :) It's my new toy. Today I discovered the Dropbox app, and having instant access to all my library and files and works in progress...wowza.

Still exploring. Anyone have any fave apps they want to suggest for me to check out??

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Way Back Wednesday: The Cougar and Cub Club

Here I revisit a post I did over at OGG in March 2010. :)

Cougars are all over pop culture in the past couple years. But the first time I noticed the phenomenon was several years ago...at my own book group, of all places.

Of course, we're one of those book groups where it's more about drinking wine, having dinner and chatting about whatever we like, rather than actually dissecting books. So when the chat one night turned to age (in the context of ourselves versus our husbands), imagine my surprise at being one of only two in the group with the "traditional" configuration of being younger than my husband.

The one other "younger" wife was really younger--by a full two decades. So, since I'm only 4 years younger than mine, I really didn't feel like I had any company in the traditional role.

A couple of the gals were only a handful of years older than theirs. But the other age differences were more significant. 9 years, 13 years, 15 years. I knew about the 9 year spread, but how did I miss the other two?

Simple. It just hadn't come up since, to the participants, it wasn't an issue. :)

With the 9 year spread couple, how they met was a fun story. It was New Year's Eve in San Fran, where they were both visiting at the time, one from LA and one from Boise. They ran into each other in a dark club, danced, hit it off, and at the end of the night had nothing to write phone numbers on or with to keep in touch. As they parted, he joked that all she had to do was remember his last name...he was the only guy with that name in Boise. 

She called, and long story short, even in the bright light of day, all their age and differences in social situation laid bare, they each saw something special in the other. Eventually, they both moved to yet another West Coast city, sight unseen, to live together, married, and are happy owning a business together. Their ages are irrelevant, except in one aspect:  When they first met, he was young and had no desire to start a family, whereas she was quickly running through her prime fertile years. When they finally did get to the point where they considered having a child, they found that nature had made that difficult to impossible.


The popular tenet of cougar/cubs is that it throws together both sexes more closely balanced in their sexual prime. Another frequently trotted out observation is that the women look ridiculous "chasing" after young guys, while the men are applauded for landing a MILF.  I'd love to hear readers' thoughts on these "truisms" and any others you've heard.


While I usually write MM, I also have a series of MF (and one MFM) short stories out involving cougars and cubs, called Seasoned Women.

Forget about calling it May/November, these mature women and their hot, young men bring a spark to every season, all year round...

Sex On Summer Sabbatical--Who knew it would so hard to get a twenty-something man to have sex?

Forced by her employer to take a three month sabbatical, workaholic Tori Warren makes a checklist of things to accomplish which will make the time off worthwhile.
Get into the best shape of her life. Have the most fun of her life. Oh, and have the best sex of her life.

Sexy young Adam comes into her life at just the right time. A physical trainer with a loving-life personality, he should work nicely in helping her meet all three goals. He’d be especially perfect for the best sex. Now if he would only just cooperate...

EXCERPT: He purposely didn't tease, letting her calm down again as he typed the information in. "Okay, let's take your vitals for a baseline." Adam pulled the blood pressure cuff away from the wall and tried to remain dispassionate as he ran through his normal routine with half his mind on his work and other half enjoying the innocent touches and her breathless reactions to them.

Sternly warning himself to keep it under control in the workplace, he nevertheless was glad he'd worn a restraining jock as he knew what was to come. Just the thought of putting Tori through her paces, thoroughly assessing her body, was severely taxing his restraint--and he had barely started. For the first time, he doubted the wisdom of taking her on as a client.

Oh, come on, you can keep it professional here. She's just another body.

Yeah, right.

"Okay, lie back. We're going to do some range of motion so I can get an idea of where you're at."

Tori surprised him by lying back immediately, without a protest, giving herself over to his control. Swallowing at the vision she made reclined before him, he tried to get back on task, running through a typical range of motion series involving all her joints. All the while, he was hard pressed to keep his touches clinical rather than caressing. And the little minx had to know what she was doing to him, a knowing glint in her eye as she watched him manipulate her body.

Having her stand, he ran through an informal flexibility test, noticing she winced as she stretched her hamstrings.

"Are you sore from running?"

Tori grimaced slightly. "Is it obvious?"

Adam had to fight a laugh at her pout. "Just to me. It's what I do. We'll do some light stretching later, and I'll keep it in mind while we do our first workout. So what time of day do you feel at your best?"

Regarding him thoughtfully, she leant back against the table, the move thrusting her breasts forward, lovingly accentuated by her sports bra. She was either a huge tease, or she had no idea how alluring she looked. Adam's throat went dry as she responded, "Hmm, that's a tough one. I do my best work later in the day and into the evening. But physically? I guess I feel at my peak about now, around mid-morning."

"Then that's when we'll try to meet for workouts. That actually works well for me. Most of my clients work during the day, so early morning and late afternoon to evening are my busy times." Equal parts relieved and disappointed when she straightened, Adam forged ahead to the fun part. Rummaging in the drawer, he came up with a tape measure.

Tori's eyes widened with alarm. "Oh no. No, no, no. You are not measuring my butt." She began scooting along the edge of the table as if seeking safety.

Laughing aloud, Adam advanced on her. "Come on. Don't you want to see how much you've improved by the end of the summer?"

She glared at him, arms crossed. "Are you telling me my ass needs improvement?"


Falling For The Other Brother--Erica had been planning to break it off with Trevor—he was really too young for her after all. But it's hard to use that excuse when the man she's really interested in is Trevor's twin, Colin.

Her biological clock ticking, a chance conversation leads Erica to Trevor, a former sperm donor, who helps convince her to move ahead with her plans. But he adamantly refuses to be her donor, in fact has pulled all his past donations, for a reason he won't discuss. Their subsequent relationship, while hot, just drives home the different goals the two have.

When Colin returns from overseas, his problem with intimacy still looming large, he never dreamt he would meet his ideal partner in Erica. Only two things stand in their way: her relationship with his brother, and the fact she wants children...the one thing he can no longer provide.

EXCERPT: A cool waft of air on her shower-warm skin was the only warning Erica received before large hands cupped her bare shoulders. A smile curved her lips, but she didn't react in any other fashion as she was pulled back flush against a hard male body. Or maybe she should say, a hardening male body.

She gave a little wiggle, bringing their bodies in closer alignment as her favorite rain-shower setting softly pelted them from above, with two slightly more forceful jets massaging from each side.

A muscular and extremely tanned arm reached past her to pluck the hand-held shower head from its holder.

"Picked up a little sun? I see you've been working hard."

Trevor's deep responding chuckle reverberated in her ear. "I always make time for play. In the Caribbean especially. And the shoot was on the beach."

A popular and successful fitness model, Trevor did a lot of cover shoots and spreads for various magazines, as well as demonstrations for equipment. It had been one of these demo jobs, evidently staged on a tropical beach, he had just returned from.

"That must've been brutal." Erica gave a shudder, partly from the thought of the unrelenting sun, and partly because, as she watched, Trevor was skimming his hand along her abdomen up to cup her breast. The contrast of her red-head's pale skin with his sun-darkened fingers was startling and extremely erotic.

She felt his shrug. He never complained about the less romantic aspects of his job, but was just happy to be doing what he did. No false modesty or dissembling, he enjoyed using his fit body to make a living.

"It was fine. Not as hot as you might think, just sunny."

Erica turned within his embrace and gave him a lingering welcome-back kiss. She was torn--glad to see him home early but dreading the conversation she had finally psyched herself up to initiate.

But not yet. Like Scarlett, she'd think about that tomorrow.


Winter's Thaw--Sometimes in the depths of winter, warmth can force a unexpected bloom.

In shock after the death of her ex-husband, Maggie Winter gave in to her need for comfort with Nick, but immediately regretted her impulsive act.
With her young daughter to raise alone, it was time to start acting her age. But Nick isn't put off by her cool act and has no problem turning up the heat.

 EXCERPT: God, I hate Muzak. Maggie switched her cell phone to the other ear and pushed her fingers through her dark, irritatingly frizzed-out hair, automatically loosening yet another snag. She normally straightened and smoothed the mop, preferring it sleek, but hadn't had time this morning, so it fell in kinky twists, framing her drawn face.

She had just spent yesterday flying halfway across the country with her nine-year-old daughter, Cassie, to her mom's farm for an extended summer visit. Then after dinner, just as they were settling in, the call had come from the hospital about her husband, Wade--well, technically, ex-husband, but one month of 'ex' versus almost fifteen years of marriage made it hard to automatically add the prefix. He was in critical condition in the ICU after a car accident, so she'd had to book a solo next-morning flight, deciding to settle Cassie in with Mom instead of dragging her right back home. Then Maggie had spent a mostly-sleepless night getting frequent updates from the nurses before driving in the bleak pre-dawn to the closest airport. The first short flight had gone fine, but the voicemail message to call the ICU had been waiting when she turned her cell phone back on after disembarking.

She glanced up automatically as an extremely tall man stepped over her stretched out legs before dropping into the seat next to her. Mouth going dry, she could only just keep from gawking. Wow, talk about the total package. She made a mental note to tell her best friend, Sam, that she had sat right next to a Total Stud. Maybe even a Fallen Angel, their highest ranking for hot uber-alpha male.

She gave him a quick, furtive once-over out of the corner of her eye, her clearest view of his body his lap, where jeans that looked older than him lovingly clung. Holy smokes. And 'package' was certainly right on the money. More than just an Angel. They might have to invent a whole new category just for him, she mused. Maybe God on Earth? She searched her imagination for a title worthy of him as she continued to wait on hold. The two friends had played this game for years, collecting and describing in detail the yummy, unattainable eye candy they ran across to one another. They were married, they always joked, not blind. And at least she had something to keep her mind occupied while she was stuck in phone purgatory.


Spring Training--With two diverging careers on the line, Teri and Aaron are torn between the right thing to do...and what feels so right to them.

With a son who's played since he could walk, Teri lives, eats and breathes baseball. She was almost more excited than Emery when his invitation to a minor league team's training camp came. But excited doesn't begin to describe her reaction to Em's new mentor, Aaron Reynolds. A spring fling? Just the ticket.

Fighting a chronic injury, Aaron is biding his time until he can return to the majors. Being assigned a mixed-up rookie to babysit is fine with him, especially one that come with a sassy, sexy camp follower like Teri. But he soon finds he has his hands full...trying to keep Emery on the straight and narrow...and trying to keep his liason with Teri strictly physical.

EXCERPT: Six weeks later, Teri was hauling grocery bags up to Emery's new apartment. Arms full, she kicked the door three times hard. No answer. And she'd just talked to him ten minutes ago. "C'mon, Em," she muttered, pulling her foot back for another "knock".

Instead of resistance, her foot met air as the door opened. Thrown off balance, she took a desperate step forward trying to regain her balance.

"Whoa." A hand caught her firmly by the elbow and steadied her. "You must be the 'number one fan'," the unfamiliar voice added with a touch of sarcasm. Must be Aaron, the apparently grumpy roommate. Finally stable, she looked up, expecting to see a young man around her sons' age.

Boy, was she wrong. In a good way.

Suddenly hyperaware of the strong hand still grasping her arm, she fought for composure. Her over-stimulated primary erogenous zone--i.e., her brain--was having a field day as the man in front of her tripped every trigger she possessed at once.

Tall, muscular and athletic? Check.

Tawny, sun-kissed skin and blond hair? Uh huh.

Deep celadon eyes with little laugh lines at the edges? Nice touch.

She inhaled deeply. Gads, he even smelled heavenly. Male, spicy, and a little bit like--glove oil? Rowr.

The squint lines were promising. Maybe--hopefully--he wasn't nearly as young as she'd expected. Or maybe they were just from playing ball in the sun for so many years and she was a total perv. She looked down at the elbow he still held.

"Oh damn, sorry about that." He removed the oily rag he was holding in the hand supporting her, swiping at her skin ineffectually with his thumb. At least, it was ineffective at removing the grease. It was proving pretty effective at something else though...

Her eyes narrowed as something about his face gave her a prod of recognition. Aaron? Hmm... Trying to place him, and realizing she hadn't yet said a word, she finally responded, "No problem." She was proud of how normal her voice sounded. Get a grip, Sandusky. You sooo need a man if you're lusting after your son's roommate.

Gratefully seizing upon the grounding effect of the thought of her son, she continued, "You must be Aaron. Emery here? "

"Yes." He backed in a bit reluctantly. "C'mon in, he just rolled in. I'll try to catch him before he gets in the shower."

Teri frowned, finally completely distracted from her hormonal mental wanderings. "Just rolled in? You mean, from last night?"

Aaron shifted uncomfortably, but before he could answer, Em strolled into the living room. "Mom, hey!"

"Mom?" Aaron echoed incredulously, going still...