Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tina Donahue: Double the Pleasure…


Sweep all that trash around you into the nearest closet, close the door (if you can) and double-check your mirror; today we have a guest! Please welcome award-winning author Tina Donahue. Now—turn up the heat!
—Carol Strick


Not certain whether you’re in the mood for a steamy contemporary or a smoking hot paranormal? Well, I have the solution for you.

Much to my surprise, two of my erotic romances—contracted with different publishers—are both coming out this month! This is a first for me, and I’m celebrating by offering a contest. More on that later.

These two releases couldn’t be more different. One is an erotic contemporary ménage – my first ménage, in fact. Wow, was it fun to write. My other release is an erotic paranormal, which is the second in my Outlawed Realm Series (yet another first, me writing a series). Both have lusty sex scenes and Alpha heroes to die for. The kind of guys I’d like to have in my bed. Here’s the cover art, blurb and buy link (with excerpt) for each. ☺

SiNN—contemporary erotic romance (ménage) from Ellora’s cave—releasing October 14

She’s every man’s carnal fantasy…and the target of one’s revenge

At a Phoenix gentleman’s club, Lea dances as SiNN, her body bared and vulnerable to her male partner, her features hidden behind a feathered mask. To the men watching, she’s a sensual enigma, submissive and seductive with no face, name or history. Not even Lea knows her real origins.

A man from the past does and wants her dead.

Not on the watch of U.S. Marshals Jake Gabriel and Toby Quinn. Commanding and decisive, Jake not only wants Lea’s safety but to have her naked and yielding beneath him. To Toby, she’s all he should resist but cannot.

Protected by them at a secluded estate, Lea’s drawn to their potent masculinity and the raw male lust in their eyes. Inviting desire and an emotional connection, she submits to both at once, surrendering to their most shameless hunger along with her own wanton needs.

All while a killer edges closer…

Buy link (with excerpt)

UNENDING DESIRE—erotic paranormal romance from Samhain—coming October 18

His hunger for one woman will make him a traitor to his world…

Outlawed Realm, Book 1

From a portal in his lab on E2, one of the five dimensions of Earth, quantum physicist Nikoli Zorr gazes on everything forbidden to him. Passion. Desire. The exquisite pleasure of running his hands over the lush curves of a young woman he should have stopped watching weeks ago.

His duty is to close the portals that keep the monsters out of E2—and never interfere with the inevitable fate of those on the other side. Yet he can’t bring himself to abandon the woman who has captured his soul.

Psychologist Regina Page is trying to keep her mind on her client, and off the mysterious, unbearable sexual cravings that consume her when she’s alone in her bedroom. The next moment she’s attacked by vampires, then swept into another realm by a stranger whose touch awakens that same raw desire. Whose eyes are already filled with farewell.

Yet beneath their undeniable carnal lust, something else stirs. The beginnings of illicit love. The unexpected need to protect him. Even if it means risking body, blood and soul to defeat the merciless horde…for a future that was never meant to be.

Product Warnings

Contains a repressed scientist who likes to look, and the woman who delights in unleashing his inner caveman. And sex hot enough to burn a hole in all three dimensions…and maybe create a whole new one.

Buy Link (with excerpt)

Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and Kensington. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work; she has reached finals and/or placed in numerous RWA–sponsored contests. Three of her erotic novels were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. Sensual Stranger, her erotic romance, was chosen Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category) at the French review site, Blue Moon reviews. The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for her erotic romance Lush Velvet Nights; and Deep, Dark, Delicious (erotic romance) recently received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011). She was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.


*** CONTEST ***

To celebrate the upcoming release of SiNN and Unending Desire, I’m offering a contest. One lucky commenter on this blog will have her choice of one of my following ebooks**:

1. Adored—RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious—EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
3. Lush Velvet Nights—EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms—SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger—2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
6. The Yearning—Top Ten Bestseller
7. Take Me Away—#1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books

** Winner chosen at random. Winner chosen October 15.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sand in my shoes (and ears) (and camera)

Cross Wilmington, NC off my list of possible retirement spots. The place is pretty great, but the shore ain't got no rocks.

Imho, a fabulous shoreline includes rocks and maybe some cliffs outlining a bay. Wilmington? One tour guide said that the only rocks in the city have come from ships' ballasts that were dumped in the Cape Fear River and retrieved via lots of mule labor.

I told myself I was going out to Wrightsville Beach for a few days just to relax. I managed that but I also managed to take about 275 photos, hoping to get the basis for a number of paintings. The forecast looked semi-okay, with sun the first day, partially cloudy (10% chance of rain) the second, and storms starting somewhere around late morning of the third day, when I'd be heading back home. I found myself gathering the hood of my raincoat closer as I marched through that drippy "10%" most of day #2. As I was packing the car to go home, I had to hang on to it in fear of being blown away by what wasn't quite a tropical depression passing through.

I was looking for quaint fishing boats lolling about, moored picturesquely against an ancient dock. Didn't see any of those, though I saw a lot of modern white yachts hiked up above the waterline in various marinas.

Still, I got lots of textural stuff that looks great on film (and hopefully, canvas). I want to do a series of abstracted sea foam patterns. That should look good on America's living room walls! I also got some lovely wave shots, as the surf crashed HARD even before the storm appeared. My hotel, the Blockade Runner, was located about a mile from the famous Johnny Mercer Pier. The morning news said that usually the surf breaks at the end of the pier. Yesterday it was breaking halfway up and by this morning's high tide, it was breaking almost at the land end!

This is for Mart, whose Facebook shots are always at a Batman-esque angle. Must be something about the gravity over there in Scotland...

Halfway down to the pier I determined that that "krkk, krsh" sound I could faintly hear above the roaring surf and wind was my camera lens extending. Sand must have gotten into it. The next day, shooting pictures in the rain, the sound went away. Whew!

The day before I left for vacation, our writers' group had had an all-day workshop, followed by a booksigning (I sold 3 books!!!). As I chowed down afterward on a little more Mexican than I usually order at dinner, I excused myself by saying it was okay; I'd walk ten miles the next day. I didn't know I wasn't lying!!!

Well, it seemed like 10 miles. As soon as I hit the hotel I was on the beach walking and taking pictures. I walked down to the pier (which was actually one mile. One mile times deep, soft sand equals... what?) By the time I got back to the hotel I ditched plans to walk to the Oceanic. That's the Oceanic in the picture below. (Taken from my hotel.) Look where the clouds seem to be pointing, that distant gray building on a pier you probably can't see. That's the Oceanic. It's a block from where highway 74 (or was it 76?) comes to an abrupt halt behind some houses. Deeeeelicious food! Lovely wait-staff. I had grilled salmon. The atmosphere there is fabulous, and the wrap-around windows were crusted with sea-salt but still held a beautiful view.

The days were warm, and the first one was sunny. Lots of folks on the beach. I'm happy to report that I saw dozens of fathers playing with their kids. No deadbeat dads here! One helped his son with a colorful kite. They finally got it to stay up a while, but the winds were fierce and it kept crashing.

A group of three guys in swimsuits trotted out. One threw himself face-down in the sand, and the other two took off for the surf. They were back within 5 minutes. I spotted two wannabe surfers. One actually got up on his board for a moment, but both came in quickly. There was a young woman who was lying face-down on her blanket in the sun, fully clothed. Not sure what kind of tan she was expecting.

There was no way I could come to the beach and NOT put at least a toe in the water, so that's what I did. I waded out, toe-deep, and took some great texture shots of the surf. How surprising that just the final, tiny edges of the waves as they wore themselves out, had enough force in them to make me struggle for my balance as they swept back out! If it was that bad with just the sea-foam, imagine what the actual breakers must be like!

After a night of trying to sleep on the Blockade Runner's miserable excuse for a bed, I took off for downtown and a horse-drawn tour. Our guide said that Wilmington has more pre-Civil War buildings than any other town in the US because the Yankees took Fort Fisher (over at Kure Beach, below Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches), so Wilmington didn't put up a fight.

That's Fred and Henry pulling us. Or maybe Henry and Fred. The company uses all Amish rescue horses, horses whose natural gait is too slow for farmers to use. If not for this gig, the guys would have gone to the glue factory.

Wilmington has gorgeous buildings and homes, right next to buildings you wouldn't be caught dead near at high noon. Awful juxtapositioning! I was afraid to park my car. But boy, some of those million-and-a-half-dollar homes are fabulous. Spanish moss hangs from the trees, and many flower varieties that had given up for the year in my yard were still blooming their colorful little hearts out there.

Went on a river tour and saw (among other things) the USS North Carolina, which is now a huge WWII museum. Back in 1971 when the people of NC bought it and brought it up river, they had to choose a full moon and high tide to get it into the channel. Along the way, it hit a floating restaurant, the Ark. According to our tour guide, the Ark was awarded a purple heart. Good story! I googled and discovered that the owner had a purple heart painted on the side of the repaired restaurant.

Anyway, they wanted to turn the boat around so its prow faced the city, but the ship got stuck and they said, "Oh well." Eight years later an elevator bridge was built nearby that, at its tallest, isn't tall enough to let it back through to the ocean. That boat ain't goin' anywhere now.

I had a nice lunch at downtown's Dock Street Oyster Bar, a cute place our horsey tour guide had recommended. Speaking of our guide, he was off to Charlotte the next day to die. In the past few years since Wilmington has become #3 in the US for movie work, he's become a part-time actor. This time the movie's shooting in Charlotte, and he gets to be some creepy guy who gets his throat cut. Cool.

For dinner, I went to the Fish House Grill near Wrightsville Beach. Excellent shrimp (I haven't had fried shrimp in YEARS!) and slaw. (Meh dessert.) (Excellent service!)

Another awful night (it didn't help that the blasting A/C/heater didn't do much besides make a racket), and I woke up to wind that was even more fierce than it had been the previous days. It was alternating rain and sprinkles. I had planned to have room service for breakfast, but faced with a choice of $20+ for an omelet delivered to my room or a free bfast if I went down to the restaurant, I chose the miserly route and was rewarded to find that their equipment had gone kablooey and that the chef was preparing omelets to order on a bunsen burner.

Omelets are my most favorite-est breakfast! Yum!

Went out, took some more pictures of the TEARING surf, came inside to read that SEP novel a bit more, then packed and left. It was so much easier getting out of Wilmington than finding my way in. Just follow MLK Blvd until it becomes the beginning of I-40. A mile down the road is that hilarious (but quite official) sign: "Barstow, CA—2554 miles."

So long, Wilmington! It was a great starting point for my exploration of the NC coast! Now, if someone could direct me toward some beaches that have a rocky quality to their landscape, I can start to get serious about checking out retirement possibilities.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gimme that New-Time Romance!

Last weekend I read a historical romance that one of my favorite authors had declared was one of her all-time favorites. She did give the caveat that it was an old-timey romance.

I was familiar with the author's work. Years ago when I was still a (very) graphic designer, another designer twisted my arm to get me to read HER favorite author, and I did read, I think it was three, books by same. By the time I got to the third book (a historical), I knew when Our Heroine had struggled for half a book to rescue the dear beloved Hero, who coughed as she drew his nearly-drowned self into her beautiful arms, that he'd be dead by the end of the chapter.

I was wrong. It took him a page and a half to expire.

In another book (it may have been by the same author or not; I'm trying to be vague, thank you), Our Historical Heroine is strongly urged by Government Powers to go to the Middle East and join a harem. By then Our Heroine has had about twenty kids and six husbands. (She's between hubbies at this point iIrc.) The government shill informs her that she could easily pass (naked) for a virgin of 17.

I think that was the book I threw against the wall.

Anyway, I read this historical romance book. Copyright 1988 or so, though it seemed from a decade earlier. I dunno; I didn't read any romances back then except for Wicked Loving Lies and that other one. Oh yeah, Sweet Savage Love. (Thanks, Google.) Both were full of positive-outcome rapes and bodice-ripping, and the genre hasn't yet fully recovered to the public's mind.

(Here at Adam & Eve we aren't allowed to sell anything portraying positive-outcome rapes because it is a SICK SICK SICK concept!)

Also, the heroines of that era seemed to me to be quite stupid. I don't like books with stupid protagonists.

Anyway, here was a book written a decade beyond that era, yet still we had a stupid heroine. Her only goals were... Uh... I'm thinking... She claims her only goal is to be loved, but all men adore her and she came from a close-knit, loving family, so what was her prob? Cheez.

There's no real GMC (goals, motivation, conflict) here. The heroine flits from man to man and squirts out an occasional kid at times that are convenient to her.

The prose was so purple I could paint with it. However, this also allowed me to progress at a quick pace through the rather thick tome, as I could see the purple starting and then skip down paragraphs or even pages until the narration settled down to plot again.

Reading speed was also helped in that the book was repetitive. Let me give you an example—not a quote, but an impression. We'll call Our Heroine "Bella" and Our Hero of the Moment "Steve":

Bella and Steve raced on their magnificent horses across the meadows in the lush spring sunlight. The scent of lilacs and larkspur was thick, along with the other native plants, which were [skip a few paragraphs]. They stood and watched [listing of local fauna, skip a page], who bowed as if to Bella's beauty and then trotted into the forest.

Bella's amber eyes sparkled, the flecks of pure gold in them drawing Steve's lusty attentions. He couldn't bear to be apart from her. Her ruby velvet gown, stitched with pure silk embroidery floss to give a floral motif, and with underskirt of lavender [skip a few pages] and her shoes showed off her pretty feet.

"Bella, I must have you!" Steve uttered. "Your amber eyes with their flecks of pure gold inflame me!"

Bella blushed prettily. She knew the gold flecks in her beautiful amber eyes were the second thing men noticed about her, after her magnificent breasts.

"I hate you!" she flung at Steve.

"What? Where did that come from?"

"I have no reason to hate you. In the entire book, I will suddenly accuse you of being hateful for no reason, though I fall in love with loathsome men along the way. You're a very nice man and in addition, you are gorgeous and incredibly rich. But oh, I hate you, I hate you!"

"Ah, my dearest treasure, but I will love you and your amber eyes with their flecks of pure gold, forever!"

And so on.

I'm not going to say whether this particular author is still writing or not, or whether she's still a best-selling author. All I can say is:

I love modern romance. Well, for the most part. The good stuff. (This historical stuff I was talking about was The Good Stuff in the Seventies and Eighties.)

Modern romance contains solid plots. People in them have solid goals. These goals will almost always involve the characters having to rip themselves apart in order to find solutions, which involve finding their true selves. The characters are usually interesting people with dreams beyond finding enough security in order to raise kids and not die in poverty. They are interested in the world they live in and the people around them.

The women are strong. They are smart. They have layers of character that cement them into their world and make them readily recognizable in some fashion with their readers. They have aspirations. They are able to produce emotions beyond those needed in the bedroom. They do not meekly obey men without question.

The women have adventures, and quite often, they discover they have FUN in those adventures which earlier would have been so frightening to them. The women grow. They mature and shape their world through conscious intervention and determination.

Their men (or women, if they're so inclined) eventually prove to be worthy of them by themselves growing in character.

And of course, there's the Happily Ever After, or the possibility of same—a requirement. Positive personal growth gains the reward of love and security, basic human needs.

It's a great time to read books, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caring for long-distance, aging parents

My parents are in their eighties. That came as a shock to me, but the other day the police confirmed it: 80s.

I'd called the cops—the cops at the other end of the state, that is—because the head guy (HG) at the retirement community my parents live in called to say (among other things) that my mother had been missing for 2 days. No, I don't know why he hadn't called the cops before this. But when I did, they noted that they'd answered a call about my father at the community a few days before, and that his description said he was 84. Which makes my mom 81.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. I first got a call one day as I was sitting down to dinner. Lately I've been getting "please give to our charity" calls at that time, so I let it ring. When done, I checked the message. For the first two minutes of it, HG was explaining who he was and that I was listed as Mom & Dad's contact person.

Two full minutes of this. While I'm thinking, "OMG, they're dead! Someone's dead!"

It wasn't until the two minute mark that he actually got around to saying that everyone was fine, for the most part. Dad was in the hospital with double-pneumonia, and as usual (this has happened a lot lately), the Parentals didn't call to inform. But Dad had been waiting for Mom to show up for visiting hours, and HG reiterated that Mom hadn't been seen in 2 days. He said that the last anyone had seen of her was her driving home from the hospital after Dad had been admitted a few days before.

I've known of two occasions in which Mom got hopelessly lost trying to get home from visiting Dad in the hospital. On both occasions she found a kind soul who let her follow them to her community. Which is about 5 minutes from the hospital.

I tracked down a phone # for Dad and he assured me he was feeling much better. (The same thing he'd told me the week before. Apparently he'd lied then.) A friend was supposed to provide transportation for Mom, but no one had shown yet. Dad told me that they were very, very late from when they'd told him they'd visit. The home phone had been busy for hours. (Mom forgets to put the phone back on the hook.)

My mom has Alzheimer's—she's been treated for it for years and is doing fine, though very forgetful of recent happenings—and so does my Dad, though he refuses to admit it. (We assume that he has to appear to be strong.) Dad is not getting treatment; his condition has gotten increasingly worse over a shockingly short time. He'll tell you a different story about the same incident within two minutes of each other. He's always searching for words that are just out of reach, frustrating him mightily. Mom just tells you what she thinks you want to hear, unless she tells you something that she's been ruminating on and embellishing to the point where it turns into complete non-reality.

In other words, you can't trust either one with telling you what's actually going on.

I got hold of the sheriff and they said they'd send someone over. Then I called Dad again, and guess who had showed up? Turns out that Mom hadn't taken long at all to get there; Dad was just impatient. And she'd eaten dinner in their community's dining hall just a couple hours before, so lots of people had seen her. I called off the sheriff and thanked him profusely.

So here we are today: Dad is in a rehab facility, learning to swallow correctly so he won't swallow liquids into his lungs again. He's doing great down there, and we hope to get him out two Fridays from now, before he can go insane. It appears that in that nursing home, there are only two others who have reasonable mental faculties. The noise level is loud, there's nothing for Dad to do when he's not in physical therapy, and the food is horrendous.

Mom will walk down to see him. His facility is two doors beyond their eating hall. But yesterday she got mixed up and landed at the assisted living center (which has a long wait list) instead, and apparently they couldn't point to the parking lot and next building and direct her from there. Thus, Mom took a little longer than usual to amble down for her visit.

So my sister gets an email from HG talking about how my dad keeps calling the cops when Mom doesn't arrive. Dad says he did not call the cops; he called HG to see if he knew where Mom was. Two weeks ago when we asked if the community could find someone to drive Mom down to visit Dad (one way; the community has a bus that can ferry her back) an hour before dinner, HG told us they were not set up to provide such extensive service. Now he says that we must add additional home service help (we already have help coming in 3x week) to keep track of Mom in case she gets dangerously lost. He says the community will hire them (from a company he keeps pushing at us; we think he gets kickbacks) and charge the services to M&D. I wonder where he gets the idea he can legally do that?

Mom does not have keys to the car. She may take her time and get a little confused, but eventually she finds her way. The problem with Dad is that he's not allowing her that time and panics. The problem with HG is that he's calling the cops and blowing things out of proportion.

Anyway, we kids (sis and bro-i-l) gathered there two weekends ago to scope out the sitch and talk with various resources. HG had assured us he'd be there. Of course he wasn't. He left some 13-year-old (well, she looked that young) in the office instead, who didn't know anything but how to hand out business cards.

We have insurance-paid nurses coming once a week to put pills in the proper boxes and make sure Mom is physically healthy. I call every day that no one else shows up to have Mom take her pills while I'm on the phone. We have Home Helpers (a chain; I've used 'em before) coming in twice a week as an additional check to make sure Mom is taking her pills (they can't give them to her, but they can stand there and watch while she swallows), get groceries, pick up prescriptions, do a little laundry, and take Mom down to visit Dad.

FYI: such help is in the neighborhood of $18/hour (some chains add more for weekend work, or if you ask for less than 3 hours). Make sure the company you choose checks out its employees well.

While we were there my sister (the CPA who's in charge of M&D's finances) ransacked their files to make sure we had the latest Important Papers. I'd called their lawyers and had been told that they'd redone everything in 2009. The papers my sister and I had were dated 1988.

Turns out the 1988 stuff (boy! that sounds ancient!) was the latest versions, but they were retyped or something and we now have spiffy, crisp copies.

We were looking for
• Wills
• Direct Power of Attorney (I've heard that some states also require a Direct Power of Medical Atty)
• Living Wills

So if you have elderly parents (or just parents), be sure you have copies of these. If you have kids, make sure they have copies of your documents.

We're still looking for
• Pre-paid funeral contracts

We're told these are often transferrable. No, not to other people (though I don't know about that), but to other cities as the people involve move.

According to my parents' contract with their community, they have to give 90 days (yes! I said 90!) notice to move. If we did that, that would mean moving them out at the end of December. In the mountains of NC. In a winter that's predicted to be a wet one.

So my sister broached the idea to my dad of moving at Thanksgiving and he sounded favorable. She's looking for assisted living places near her, where M&D can be near their grandkids and great-grandkids. She and I decided that the best choice was to move 'em out at Thanksgiving so as to avoid the chance of bad weather AND in case any last-minute glitches come up, we've still got time to maneuver.

When I called Dad up last night and mentioned Thanksgiving, I thought he was having a fit. But really, what should it matter that much? They don't have that many friends there, though they do have a doctor they love. Decades ago when I helped move them from Fayetteville, I discovered that, the Friday before movers were to appear on Monday, they hadn't done any packing. My b-i-l told me about moving them from TN, a little over a decade ago: again, no packing beforehand. So it's not like we're forcing M&D to pack at lightspeed.

Plans are that we pack everything, ship it to the far side of TN, and have yard sales in the spring to downsize their belongings. It sounds reasonable to me, but we don't want M&D to feel like we're kicking them out, working against their wishes, etc.

Having long-distance, aging parentals is not fun! My advice to others is to have your legal documents in order and not only have a Plan A in mind, but Plans B and C. If your loved ones are experiencing reduced mental faculties, get them to tell you what they'd prefer while they are still able to think straight.

And as for you yourself, make sure you have long-term care insurance! I've got to check what I've got; I think I need to expand it a bit. Ca-ching!!!!