In addition to the Grand Prize, one SWAG pack will be given away on Amanda Usen’s blog on each day of the hop. Visit each day for an AUTHOR spotlight and more FALL GLEE.
Now, about those Marmalade Cookies mentioned in the title of this post….
Now, about those Marmalade Cookies mentioned in the title of this post….
My novels run the range from sweet and sexy to sweet and smoking hot so you have a chance to win one of each, among other prizes. DECADENCE is my most recent Ellora’s Cave release. It definitely falls in the smoking hot category because it’s all about a couple reigniting the passion in their marriage—and the do! They really, really do. And most of the story takes place on a single fall day. Autumn has always been my favorite season (beautiful colors as the leaves change, apple and pumpkin picking, dressing up for Halloween, starting the fireplace up again) but I get the feeling everyone would pick fall as their favorite season if it guaranteed them a day like Eric and Jessica have in Decadence.
Here’s the blurb…
In eight years of marriage, Eric Carlson has never forgotten to kiss his wife Jessica goodbye—until this morning. As Jessica runs her errands, all she can think about is the missing kiss. When Eric calls to tell her he thinks he left the toaster oven on, she rushes home, annoyed and afraid her house may be burning down. Instead of smoke and flames she finds Eric, looking hot and sexy as hell as he prepares fresh waffles.
Eric knows he and Jessica have been drifting apart. He’s bought the hot new product everyone’s talking about—the Spice Rack, guaranteed to spice up your love life. The jar he opens advises them to “Spend a decadent day indulging all your senses.” With the whole day ahead of them, a fridge full of tempting treats and the house to themselves for a change, that’s exactly what Eric intends to do—in the kitchen, on the washing machine, wherever the mood strikes. And Jessica’s got a super-steamy surprise for him too.
To be entered for a chance to win an e-copy of Decadence, leave me a comment and let me know YOUR favorite thing about fall. (One winner will be chosen at random—open internationally!)
For a chance to win my sweet but still exceptionally sexy foodie romance, THEN,AGAIN enter the main BLOG HOP drawing for the TREAT prize package.
THEN, AGAIN is also a seasonal love story as it takes place during a summer spent at the beach.
Here’s a peak at the blurb…
Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what you really need.
Photographer Kay Turner is dealt a double whammy when she flies home for her grandmother’s funeral to find her boyfriend with another woman. Now with two losses to mourn, she retreats to her newly inherited beach house to clear her head.
Everything at the beach is familiar: the sounds of the ocean, the scent of her grandmother’s perfume—and the irresistible smile of James Margolis. The man Kay spent her adolescence pining for is every bit as charming as she remembers.
James always thought of Kay as “a nice kid”, but he feels something very different for the woman she’s become. Especially when he asks if she’d be willing to part with some of her grandmother’s recipes for his new restaurant—and they wind up sharing much more than culinary secrets.
But as their relationship deepens, Kay finds herself caught between the demands of her dream career as a travel photographer, and a chance for happiness with the one man she’s wanted for a lifetime.
Product Warnings: This foodie romance contains sensual scone baking, a heroine who discovers one bad apple hasn’t spoiled her appetite, and a delicious hero you can’t help but crave. Blend well, serve hot.
Be sure to take a look at the list of awesome authors below so you can follow the Hop and enter all the contests. Stop at each of their blogs and see what they’re giving away plus get more chances to win the grand prize! And don’t forget to fill out the rafflecopter entry form! Good luck to all. I look forward to reading your comments below and giving away a copy of DECADENCE to the lucky winner. Happy Fall!
I’m very excited about the November 5th release of Leave The Lights On, a contemporary romance from Samhain Publishing. Here’s a peek at the blurb and cover!
When love throws you a curve, swing for the fences.
Parker Wood’s dreams of becoming a professional baseball player are shattered when he’s injured in a devastating car crash. After two years in hospitals and physical rehab facilities, he’s ready to move back to his childhood home and take over the family landscaping company. The house and business are his, now that his father has passed.
Sophie Vaughn has suffered through a hellishly public divorce from a husband who couldn’t manage to stay faithful for two months of marriage. Determined not to let her personal drama impact her successful wedding and party planning business, she buys her parents’ old house, hoping the comfort of familiar surroundings will help her heal.
When Parker and Sophie discover they’re neighbors once again, it’s as if time has stood still. Their friendship is quickly rekindled, along with the decade-long crush neither of them ever admitted having. Then the heat between them exposes a long-held secret that threatens to tear them apart…unless they can detach from their painful pasts and move forward—together.
Warning: Contains sultry summer nights, steamy pool-side encounters, and you’ll never look at a jar of peanut butter the same way again.
MEANT TO BE and its sequel HOLDING ON are now both available in paperback! You can purchase copies at most major online book retailers.
“The characters are charismatic, their fears and trust issues are palpable, the lust is like molten lava…hot and dangerous, and the love is so darn endearing that it will make you sigh with pleasure.” ~BlackRavens Reviews 5 stars; Recommended Read
“I don’t know if there is a ‘talented writers gene’ that sets some apart from others; but if there is, then Karen Stivali has it. If you want to read a book that will make you grin, laugh, love, forgive, understand, and lust, then I highly recommend Holding On.” ~Literati Literature Lovers 5 or 5 stars
I love when I read a sequel and like it as much as the first one. I couldn’t have asked for a better story for Marienne and Daniel to show what it’s like after the Happily Ever After ending at the end of Meant to Be. The beauty of this story is the way the author develops her characters and their relationships and gives you a true sense of how people would react and interact. Karen Stivali is a superb writer in contemporary romance.” ~Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews 5 of 5 stars; A True Gem
“Sigh. That’s what I always feel like doing after reading one of Miz Stivali’s novels. I just want to sit here, with my hand over my heart, and sigh. And smile. Because there is something so innately sweet and heartfelt about her characters and their love. I loved Marienne and Daniel in Meant to Be and I think I may love them even more in Holding On.” ~Romantic Book Affairs
You’ve probably been hearing rumors for over a year now, well they’re finally coming true. FELT TIPS, the world’s first office supply themed erotic anthology for charity will finally be available to the public! This collection of erotic short stories is edited by Tiffany Reisz and contains steamy, lusty, office-supply filled tales penned by an incredible collection of authors. All profits will go toward charities that provide school supplies to underprivileged children and work clothes for adults looking to re-enter the work force. Want some quick, hot reads? This is the place to find them! To check out all the stories including my naughy short, HARD AT WORK, be on the lookout for info on where to purchase FELT TIPS. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the cover. Enjoy!
I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my upcoming contemporary romance THEN, AGAIN which will release from Samhain Publishing in May 2013. Stay tuned for the blurb and further details of this romantic beach story!
A wise friend recently told me that he didn’t like to use the word “losing” in regard to virginity as losing implies something you accidentally no longer have whereas, in good situations, virginity is something that is actually given away freely. That certainly applies to my virgin status at Romanticon. I’ll admit, much like when I “lost” my actual virginity, I thought I knew what to expect, but in reality I didn’t have a clue. I figured it would be fun—most conferences are at least a little fun—and I knew I’d get the chance to meet a lot of people who I’ve been chatting with online for a long time, which is always great—but I still had no real concept of what my first Romanticon experience would be like.
I have a very vivid imagination. It comes in handy a lot. When I’m bored. When I’m planning a party. Certainly when I write. Even my imagination couldn’t have come up with a more fabulous experience than the one I actually had at Romanticon this year. Not even close. Best. Deflowering. Ever.
Some of you may know that in addition to my general tendency to worry about travel (I hate flying and it often wreaks havoc with my ears) and others may know that I’m currently being treated for Lyme Disease (which means I have to be on an annoyingly strict sugar free and gluten free diet for the duration of treatment and means that I have fluctuating bouts of flu-like symptoms and joint pain as my body heals). None of that is conducive to traveling, so I had some legitimate concerns.
I shipped a bunch of things ahead (swag, costumes and food I can actually eat). I arrived in Canton after 11pm on Wednesday night and shot an email to Valerie Plucinski around midnight, just telling her I’d arrived and asking where I should go to pick up my boxes in the morning. Within fifteen minutes I heard a knock at my hotel room door and opened it to find Val, in her PJs wheeling a dolly with my two boxes. She didn’t want to risk me going hungry overnight so she brought the packages straight to my room. Val is awesomeness embodied. That is literally one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me (thank you, Val!) and it got Romanticon off to the most positive start I could imagine.
One of my favorite things about all conferences is that I attend them with Karen Booth, my amazing critique partner, sometimes co-author and frequent anthology buddy. Not only is Karen B tall, blonde and blue-eyed while I’m short, brunette and green-eyed, but she’s a Southern belle while I’m a Northern gal, so we don’t get to see each other too often. The twice a year conferences we’ve gone to have doubled as our girls’ getaways.
Karen and I started this getaway the night we arrived. I’d traveled with the lovely Frances Stockton (a fellow Northern gal) and we three shared a limo from Cleveland to the McKinley Grand. I think our driver was a bit intrigued to hear that he had a car full of romance authors. No sooner did we arrive than we met two authors I’ve “known” online but had never had the pleasure of meeting in person—the fabulous Sidney Bristol and Voirey Linger. Karen and I both share two publishers with Sid and Voirey, Ellora’s Cave and Turquoise Morning Press, so it was doubly awesome to finally spend some face (and boob) time with these wonderful women.
The next morning Karen and I woke early and met up with the lovely Sabrina York. A fellow special-needs diet writer, Sabrina had rented a car and graciously offered to take us on a field trip to buy some gluten free food. Loaded up with apples, cheese, gluten free bread and some new mascara (hey, I have other needs, you know) we returned to the hotel and wound up having a lovely lunch chat with Kelli Collins. Karen and I had had the pleasure of briefly meeting Kelli at the RT Booklovers convention in Chicago six months ago. We were about to introduce ourselves again but that wasn’t necessary—somehow Kelli remembered both of us and said our names before we even had the chance. Talk about making authors feel like they matter. I’m in awe of how she manages to know everyone and keep them all straight. It’s just one of many ways that Kelli is an amazing woman.
Karen and I knew that we were going to be signing paper copies of Long-Distance Lovers (our co-written novel and both of our first full length novels to appear in print). What we didn’t know was that our handsome hunk of a cover model was none other than newly crowned Alpha Caveman Nick. That night at the meet and greet we not only had the undeniable pleasure of watching Nick move (and I don’t think anyone can disagree that watching Nick move is pleasurable) but we got to meet and chat with him. He’s as sweet and charming as he is fun to look at. It’s no surprise that he’s from Dallas, the land of handsome, sexy Southern gentlemen. In fact it’s no surprise that a full 1/3 of the Cavemen hail from Texas. Is it something in the water there? And if it is, can someone ship some of it up North for us, please?
I can’t possibly name everyone I got to talk to that night, but a definite highlight was that Karen and I finally got to meet our crazy-cool editor, Jillian Bell. It’s so nice to be able to put a visual with the woman who’s helped me edit more sex scenes than I can count—and the woman who offered me my first ever publishing contract (thank you, Jilly!). The rest of the evening was spent laughing, chatting and posing with Cavemen (one nicer and hotter than the next) and other amazing authors.
Karen and I had been looking forward to seeing super-sexy Sasha Devlin again (we’d met at the RT Convention) and she was even sweeter and funnier than we remembered. We were also thrilled to finally get to meet Piper Trace, who is somehow even sexier and more hilarious in person than she is on Twitter. The four of us closed down the bar that night analyzing plot ideas, dissecting storylines, and comparing sexy boobs and sexy butts—just a normal Thursday night, right?
Everything beyond that night has become a blur of busyness. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners with more fabulous authors and fans than I can possibly recount. Dancing ‘til all hours. Laughing so hard I’m amazed I never snorted anything out my nose. I got to take a lap dancing class with Shoshanna Evers and Cait Miller. I met the supremely sexy Syneca, who has designed all three of my smexy EC covers. I’d be bragging and name-dropping if I listed all the other fabulous people I got to meet—suffice to say there was awesomeness everywhere and I enjoyed chatting with everyone more than I can say.
Among the highlights of the conference were the insanely well-choreographed dance performances by the ever-talented Cavemen, the themed evenings where everyone was decked out in spectacular costumes and stunning outfits, the awards ceremony and incredibly touching tribute to the beloved Angelo and the book fair.
Book fair was nothing short of incredible. To see an enormous ballroom crammed full of readers who were there because they read and love our books was extraordinary. I get a lot of questions from people about the content of my books. In addition to writing erotic romance for Ellora’s Cave I write contemporary romance for Samhain and sexy women’s fiction for Turquoise Morning Press. There are two things all of my books have in common, they’re all love stories, and they all have sexual content. It’s how I write, it’s what I write and I’m proud of that.
I write about relationships and I try to keep my stories as realistic as possible….and real people in relationships have sex, so it’s in my books. It’s that simple. I never want to offend anyone with the content of any of my stories, but I so often feel like I’m being judged for what I write. Not how well I write it, but the fact that I “go there”. There’s no closed-door sex in my books. It saddens me that some people look down at that.
Being at the book fair at Romanticon I had to laugh because there were readers who stopped and asked “So, what are your books about?” and when I told them they were sweet love stories with steamy sex some of them said “Okay, I prefer the kinkier stuff, but my friend here likes your kind of stuff.” Instead of feeling bad, Ellora’s Cave makes you feel good (about being a little bad). That’s invaluable.
There were a few stand-out moments for me during the signing. Signing the first paper copies of my book Long-Distance Lovers and sending readers up to get Karen Booth’s autograph on it too. Having my kickass cover model Nick stop by and sign copies for me. Being told by a reader that she’d read everything I’ve written and wanted to buy the paper copy anyway. And, the most unexpected highlight, having a reader stop by and tell me that when she saw my name on the list of authors in attendance she was so excited because she’d loved my (recently released) women’s fiction, Meant To Be, and couldn’t wait for the sequel. I’m so happy that I got to speak with her and sign a cover flat for Marry Me for her. I worry about reader reaction to my writing in different genres and having someone appreciate both kinds of stories was so validating. (Thank you, Eileen, you made my day!)
Oh yes, and let’s not forget the photo shoots. Dear God, the photo shoots. When I read in the program that there were photo shoots I assumed that meant we’d get to watch while the Cavemen posed for cover shots. I had no idea they’d be posing with the conference attendees. I am notoriously reluctant to have my picture taken, ever, under any circumstances, but this conference was such a safe, encouraging, empowering atmosphere that even camera-shy me stepped out (way out) of my comfort zone and I did a shoot. I was lucky enough to have Nick there to talk me through and,with Rodney in my line of sight laughing and telling me “you’ve got this”, I managed to giggle my way through.
Speaking of comfort zones. I love to dance and haven’t been able to for months (see above Lyme disease woes) but the music and surroundings at Romanticon were too enticing to ignore so I wound up on the dance floor every night. As much as I enjoy dancing I’ve never been a lap dance lover (no pun intended, well, okay, maybe a little bit of a pun intended) and I’ve certainly never been one to bump and grind with men I don’t know. Once again the safe, warm ambiance of this conference changed all that.
I’ve been asked by several people who’ve seen the photos from Romanticon “Wow, what went on there?”, “Don’t people’s husbands mind?”, even “How could you do that?” I wish I had an answer eloquent enough to do justice to an explanation. Writing is fun and we all do it because we love it, but writing is also hard, stressful, never-ending work. You’re never “done” with any project, there’s still editing, or promoting, or waiting for reviews, or responding to comments, or blogging. It’s an amazing, fantastical job, but it’s still a job. We Ellora’s Cave authors write (amazing, steamy, mind-blowing sex). A lot. We spend a good deal of our time creating characters and exploring their sexuality. Well, guess what? We get to be sexy ourselves once in a while. Besides which, we’re a damn smart group of women and if we were doing anything shameful or inappropriate we sure as hell wouldn’t do it in a room with a few hundred people who are all holding cameras.
Anyone who thinks that Romanticon is sleazy or slutty clearly hasn’t attended the conference. There’s nothing wrong with a talented group of women, a sexy bunch of avid readers and a dozen to-die-for cover models spending a few days celebrating, laughing, talking, dancing and having an overall blast together. Did I get a lap dance from Caveman? Hell, yes. First one of my life. And it was more fun than I could have imagined. Not just because my dancer, Nick, has an awesome body and moves to match, but because I was comfortable doing it—something I never would have imagined possible.
What’s the difference between this and going to any old strip club? Tons of things. Less stripping, for one—these were men in pants (pants they looked super sexy in, but pants nonetheless). These also weren’t strangers. My lap dance came from someone I’d talked with several times (not to mention that he’s my cover model). It wasn’t threatening—there was a clear level of respect. I was surrounded by people who were being supportive (hell, I was pushed into the chair) and didn’t for one second feel like I was being judged or doing anything in the slightest bit wrong or inappropriate. It was just another let-your-hair-down, live-a-little moment.
I don’t get enough of those in my everyday life where I have a million responsibilities on top of all my writing commitments.
I’m beyond thankful to Romanticon, its planners and its attendees for giving me the opportunity to pack so many wonderful new experiences into a few short days. I left with new friends, incredible memories and feeling more relaxed and revived than I’ve felt in a long time. Priceless.
Until next year….Cheers! And here’s some more random awesomeness in case you haven’t seen enough.
These days everyone seems to have a to-do list a mile long. Whether it’s work, family, volunteer commitments or all of the above, we’re all stressed. What better way to unwind a little than the occasional indulgence? Something to make us forget all the have-to stuff and focus on the want-to things, even for a little while.
I consider myself lucky that I write fiction, because for me writing itself feels a bit indulgent. My characters get to do all sorts of things and I get to escape into their worlds whenever I write them. I love that. And, as an added perk, if I don’t feel like writing I always have dozens of books on my to-be-read list, many by authors who are friends. When I need to escape even my own characters I turn to theirs and it’s like a mini-vacation. It doesn’t hurt that my friends write some of the sexiest, steamiest, most thought-provoking fiction out there. Nothing takes my mind off my own life faster than immersing myself in something by Tiffany Reisz or Margaret Ethridge or Karen Booth, and (bragging now) sometimes when I’m really lucky I get to read their stuff before it’s even published! Then it really feels indulgent. I love being the first to know something!
Of course that’s not to say I don’t indulge in things other than reading and writing. My second biggest indulgence is, without question, food. Whether it’s a fresh batch of cookies or a big bowl of homemade chocolate frosting eaten in my PJs in the privacy of my home, comfort food eaten in jeans at my favorite local diner, or a decadent multi-course meal savored at the hottest upscale eatery while dressed to the nines, food is definitely a pleasure that takes me away from my troubles.
What are your favorite indulgences? A day of shopping? A trip to the spa? A batch of cookie dough? A naughty night (or day) with your significant other? A book to lose yourself in? TELL ME in the comment section and one winner (chosen at random) will receive his/her choice of my novels (e-book only, contest open internationally, over 18 only, please).
To check out what some other awesome bloggers have to say about indulgent behavior click here —it’s a great way to get new ideas on things to indulge in AND there will be more opportunities to win prizes!
Speaking of prizes, there is a GRAND PRIZE being offered for this blog hop! One lucky winner will be chosen to win a $100 Amazon or Barnes&Noble gift card (winner’s choice). To enter click on this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway –GOOD LUCK! And don’t forget to leave a comment!
Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of Meant To Be, my first full length work of women’s fiction, for two years. Well, it’s finally available! Digital copies can be purchased now and print copies will be available within 4-6 weeks.
Buy now at the following retailers:
Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.
When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.
Want a sneak peek at an excerpt? Here you go!
Marienne watched as Daniel grabbed a bottle of Coke out of her fridge.
He unscrewed the cap and took a drink. “It’s quite difficult to understand American slang when English isn’t your native tongue.”
He continued speaking but Marienne’s mind was caught on the words native tongue. Or, more specifically, tongue. More precisely still, Daniel’s tongue. She’d always loved the sound of his voice, the expressiveness of his choice of words, but sometimes she just enjoyed watching his mouth. This was one of those times. She studied his tongue as it moved to form his words, as it licked his lips when he paused to think, as it pressed against the Coke bottle when he drank. Heat prickled through her.
Is it hot in here or is it him? She was unable to focus on the thought as once again she was mesmerized. Now it was curved upward, pressing against the back of his top teeth as he looked at her, eyes narrowed.
“Are you all right?” he asked. The concern in his voice caught her attention as did the puzzled look on his face.
“What?” She no longer remembered what they’d been discussing.
“You’re not listening to a word I say, and that’s not like you. I’ve been speaking total gibberish and you didn’t even react. Are you okay? You’re all flushed.”
She tried to think of a way to explain to her best friend that she’d been too busy obsessing to concentrate. He’s divorced. Frank’s gone. Maybe I should. Her heart galloped.
He leaned over and felt her forehead. She held her breath, dizzy from his touch. She wanted to scoot forward and kiss him, hard, on the lips, but didn’t dare to move. Thoughts of the kiss, and his tongue, flashed through her mind.
“You’re really warm.” His hand trailed to her cheek, flipping over so he could assess her with the back of his fingers. They felt cool and silky along the contours of her face and she pressed against them.
His brow furrowed. “You’ve got a fever.”
What? Her hand flew to her forehead. “Shit,” she said, as even she could feel the burning warmth.
He grabbed a glass from her cupboard and held it beneath the ice dispenser. The crystal chunks tumbled into it. “You must have finally caught whatever Ella had last weekend.” He filled it with water and handed it to her.
“Oh, God. You’re right.” Ella had come home sick from preschool three days ago and that was the standard grace period Marienne usually got before catching things from her daughter. She rested her head on the kitchen table.
Daniel smiled at Marienne’s whining; she was acting like Ella.
“Drink your water.” He opened another cabinet and reached for the Tylenol. He shook out two and returned the bottle to the top shelf.
“Here.” He rubbed his knuckles against the top of her hand. “Take these.”
“Take them.” He nudged a second time. Heat radiated from her skin. Enticing. Alluring. He shuddered, trying to shake the thoughts from his mind. “Come on now, be a good girl.”
She sat up and scowled. He smiled and dropped the tablets into her upturned hand. The backs of his fingers grazed her palm and a tingling flush rippled through him.
She stared at him, eyes defiant, then popped the pills into her mouth and took a sip of water. She flipped her head back and swallowed hard, an action that caused Daniel to gulp as well. He wanted nothing more than to swoop down and kiss her with total abandon, to feel her overheated body, to be immersed inside her.
He said the only words he could think: “Let’s get you up to bed.”
Four Years Earlier
Daniel Gardner hated being late. It seemed disrespectful. Like other people’s time wasn’t as important as his. He willed the train to move faster, but to his dismay it slowed to a stop. A collective groan rose from the passengers. He peered out the window. He could see the station right up ahead. What the bloody hell….
The conductor’s voice came over the PA system. “This is New Jersey Transit. Sorry folks, there’s a problem with the tracks. We should be arriving at New Brunswick station in just a few minutes.”
Daniel raked his hand through his hair. Bugger. He was already running late because so many students had questions after class. It was to be expected as it was only the first week of NYU’s summer session. He’d stayed to answer every question and had missed the earlier train by an annoying two minutes.
Normally he wouldn’t have minded, much. He’d have sat and read while waiting for the next train. His wife, Justine, was hardly ever around these days, no matter what time he got home. The grand opening of her women’s spa was only a week away, and she spent practically every waking hour there. Tonight, however, Daniel had someplace he wanted to go.
I’ll be doing a virtual book tour for Meant To Be during the first week of October. Stay tuned for a list of blogs where I’ll be guest blogging and offering prizes!