Coming November 5 – Leave The Lights On!

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.

Pre-order now!

Amazon     Barnes&Noble     Samhain

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Now Available in Paperback!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEANT TO BE and its sequel HOLDING ON are now both available in paperback! You can purchase copies at most major online book retailers.

Amazon   Barnes & Noble Turquoise Morning Press

Reviews/Quotes:

“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

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Twelve Books of Christmas Giveaway!

Want to check out some awesome authors and have a chance at winning a GRAND PRIZE of 12 fabulous books plus a gift box of treats from Swiss Colony? Click on each of the author links below and leave a comment at each blog and you’ll be entered for the grand prize package of all 12 amazing titles and a treat!
All you have to do is answer this question:
What’s your favorite holiday song?
(One winner will be selected from the replies to this question to win his/her choice of any of my available books—be sure to hop over to the other blogs and leave a comment too so you can be entered for the grand prize!)
Happy Holidays!
After you leave your comment click on these authors to hop along!
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Coming 12/12/12 – FELT TIPS – The Erotic Office Supply Anthology!

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!

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The lovely Lily Harlem has a new release!

When I became an author at Ellora’s Cave one of the first fellow writers I met was Lily Harlem. She not only pens tons of smoking hot books, but she’s sweet as can be. It brings me great happiness to show off her latest release. If you’re looking for a way to heat up your cold winter nights, give Lily’s books a try.

 

 

Teamwork

Book four in the Hot Ice series. (Can be enjoyed as a stand alone read.)

What I know about hockey could fit on the back of a stamp. So my latest patient may be one of the NHL’s hottest defensemen, but I’m not exactly blown away by his stardom. Add in the fact that he’s a surly, growling grump, and I’m more than happy to work my magic on his battered body and then hot-foot to my date with his teammate, Todd “Pretty” Carty.

Todd is sex on a stick, a slice of man heaven and I want a bit of the action, preferably of the bedroom variety. But when Raven emerges from his bad mood and throws his energy into blowing my mind with just one kiss, I find my head spinning and my libido raging.

What I didn’t bargain on is these hard-training, hard-playing hockey players working as efficiently off the ice as on it when it comes to getting results. But who am I to complain when satisfaction is their ultimate goal?

Reader Advisory: Contains m/f/m. Go on, you know you want to indulge!

Buy here!

Read a steamy excerpt here!

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Black Friday Book Bonanza Blog Hop!

 

I’d like to thank the three hosts of this blog hop, Heather at Book Savvy Babe, Jenn at The Bawdy Book Blog and Lisa from Alive on the Shelves.

Black Friday has different meanings to different people. For some it’s a day of watching TV, for others it’s a time to gorge on leftovers, many spend time with relatives, some spend the day trying to avoid their relatives and lots of us debate whether or not to brave the crowds at the stores or do some online shopping to take advantage of the holiday sales. Tell me how you spend Black Friday and you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win an e-copy of one of my books.

To see the other fabulous bloggers involved in this hop and have a chance to visit their sites and see what awesome giveaways they’re offering click HERE.

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Cover reveal for THEN, AGAIN – Coming May 2013 from Samhain Publishing!

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!

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Guest Post by Margaret Ethridge! Chicago Girl Chicken Chili!

We’re sexy and we know it

I told a friend of mine that I was writing a book with a hero and heroine hovering around big 5-0, and she wrinkled her nose in distaste. Apparently ‘older people’ can’t be sexy. I pointed out that my own husband—the very same guy she once described as a hottie-hubby—is fifty-one, almost fifty-two.

She was forced to make an exception to the rule.

But who made the rule? Where did we ever get the idea that people forty aren’t sexy? Were we supposed to leave lust in the dust once after our first-annual thirty-ninth birthday? Oops. Nobody told me. I’m more comfortable with myself, my choices, and the paths my life has taken than I’ve ever been before. I also think I’m much sexier than I was in my twenties.

George Bernard Shaw said the ‘Youth is wasted on the young.’ So true. They screw love up all the time. At least, I know I did when I was their age. Looking back on my twenties and thirties, I realize how much time I wasted anticipating and not savoring.

As I grow older, I come to appreciate those things younger people find so unattractive. Laugh lines, sun spots, and crow’s feet are symbols of a life well-lived. A second, third, or even fiftieth chance to fall in love?

That’s an opportunity too precious to waste.

Spring Chickens

You don’t have to be a spring chicken to fall in love.

The residents of Heartsfield, Arkansas think Lynne Prescott has it all. The wealthy suburban divorcee captures everyone’s attention when she blows into town to dispose of the family farm. But her nosy new neighbors don’t know she ran away from home.

Bram Hatchett’s interest in buying the land adjoining his farm is yesterday’s news, but the handsome widower’s inability to contain his attraction to the land’s beautiful owner quickly becomes fodder for the local gossip mill.

A rickety old porch and a disturbing decrease in the poultry population bring them together—but with wagging tongues and grown children against them, Lynne’s inclination toward flight comes smack against Bram’s aversion to fight. Can they whittle away the secrets of the past in order to scratch out a future together?

Buy link: The Wild Rose Press

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Need something spicy to heat up the chilly fall nights? I included a fabulous recipe for chicken chili in the 2011 Wild Rose Press Garden Gourmet. Give this tasty pot of goodness a try!

Chicago Girl Chicken Chili

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 1envelope McCormick Chili Seasoning
• 1can Rotel (diced tomatoes with jalapeño peppers)
• 1can chili beans (with sauce)
• 1can great northern beans (drained)
• 1cs black beans (drained)
• 32oz tomato juice

Cut chicken breasts into strips. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add garlic and chicken strips. Sauté until chicken is cooked through. Using two forks, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Add shredded chicken to Dutch oven or stock pot, season with packaged chili seasoning. Add Rotel, chili beans, great northern beans, and black beans. Stir to mix well. Add tomato juice to desired thickness.

Bring to a simmer then cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Want a free copy of the Garden Gourmet? Download yours HERE!

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Losing My Romanticon Virginity–Ellora’s Cave Style!

The Karens at Meet and Greet

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.

The Karens with new Alpha Caveman, Nick!

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.

Northern gals heating up Book Fair!

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.

Sid and Sasha

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 Voirey

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?

The Karens with Nick

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.

The Karens and Jilly being photo bombed!

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?

Sasha and Piper, all chromed up

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.

Syneca with the super cover she made for us!

The Karens glammed up for the Last Dance!

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!)

Photo shoot with sexy Cavemen!

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.

How much sweeter can these guys be?

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.

Sexy? Yes.

Nervous? No.

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.

 

I don’t know who’s giggling more, me or Karen B as she takes pics!

Until next year….Cheers! And here’s some more random awesomeness in case you haven’t seen enough.

 

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Pumpkin Maple Ice Cream

I’ve been on an ice cream making kick lately. Today’s creation is the best one yet! It tastes like pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. Totally yummy! And seeing as there’s a bit of pumpkin in it I think it counts as a serving of fruits/veggies! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Maple Ice Cream

1 3/4 cups heavy cream (whipping cream or full cream, depending on where you live)

1 1/4 cups 1% milk

1/2 cup grade B maple syrup (or amber grade A maple syrup)

3/4 to 1 cup of canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 pinches of salt

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl or in a large measuring cup with a spout (for easier pouring). Chill in fridge until cold (at least a half hour). Whisk again briefly, just to combine, then place in ice cream machine. It took roughly 22 minutes in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Makes 1 quart.

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