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Author: adele

Virtual Book Tour – Kelly Siskind’s LEGS

The first book in my friend Kelly Siskind’s new series is out. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an Advance Reviewer’s Copy and it is seriously sexy, funny fun.

If this sounds like your catnip (um, yes. Wine? Please. A sexy enemies-to-lovers type vibe with great banter? All the yes.)  you can buy immediately and enter for a chance to win a $15 gift card.

Running into your one-night stand is a special kind of awkward. Competing against him in a wine tasting contest is delicious torment…

On Rachel’s twenty-seventh birthday, she wishes to finally find a rewarding job. What she doesn’t wish is to drink a boatload of wine, sleep with a tattooed bad boy, and drunk email her boss in one glorious, career-ending move. But the fiasco pushes her to pursue a career inspired by her late father’s love of wine: sommelier.

Unfortunately, she’s competing against her infuriating one-night stand, a man as intoxicating as a Pinot Noir.

Two years ago, Jimmy was set to inherit his family winery. Then it got ripped from his grasp. To close that dark chapter of his life, he plans to win a local sommelier contest and use the press to expose his family’s tainted wines.

Jimmy loves studying the streaks of alcohol that cling to a wineglass, known as the wine’s “legs,” but other shapely legs are stealing his focus. Tantalizing legs. Legs that had wrapped around his waist for one wild night. Jimmy, sadly, has a weakness for legs.

He also hates to lose.


OR this:

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Teeny Tiny Romance contest – congratulations to Suleikha!

The winner of Love Notes from Purgatory’s “Teeny Tiny Romance Contest” was announced today – and it’s my friend Suleikha Snyder! I’m celebrating your win so hard, my dear!

Now that the winner has been announced, I’m free to post the story I entered on my own site, so if you haven’t read it yet, please enjoy My Lady’s Duchess:

Clarissa squeezed Duchess’s reins, the mare coming to an obedient stop at the slight pressure. Stroking the horse’s glossy chestnut neck, Clarissa crooned low into the furry ears that swiveled back to catch her words.

“Precious darling. Clever girl. You’re learning so fast.”

Her boots met the ground with a solid thud as she dismounted. Duchess stood still and quiet as Clarissa ran the stirrups up and loosened the girth. Drawing the reins up over the horse’s head, Clarissa led her into the dim aisle of the barn, empty loose boxes to either side smelling of fresh bedding, ready for the rest of the herd when they came in from the pasture for their evening meal.

Clarissa grabbed Duchess’s halter, slinging it over her shoulder so she could remove the bridle. She scratched the horse’s bristly face where the straps had lain in a vain attempt to keep Duchess from her usual practice of scrubbing her itchy nose against Clarissa’s jacket. Clarissa laughed as the force of Duchess’s rough caress pushed her back a half step.

“She’s ruining your habit, my lady.” A deep voice sounded from the other end of the barn, tugging at something low and primal inside Clarissa.

“Nonsense, Joseph.” She didn’t look for the source of the voice. She didn’t need to. Her pounding heart told her everything she needed to know. To cover her reaction, she brushed at the horse hair sticking to her tweed jacket before threading the halter onto Duchess, easing it over her sensitive ears and fastening it to the cross ties that were anchored to the walls on either side.

When she moved to remove the saddle, she felt Joseph close behind her, strength and heat radiating from his body. She stiffened even as she wanted to melt.

“You should let me get that, my lady.” His breath tickled her ear, warm and intimate. A liberty she shouldn’t permit.

“I prefer to rub Duchess down myself.” Her voice didn’t sound quite her own with her throat thick and tight like this. Swallowing, she tried for a lighter tone. “You know how sensitive she is around men.”

“Only strangers. She knows me. She trusts me.” Was he really talking about the horse? He reached past her, one hand flipping up the saddle’s skirt and releasing the girth’s buckle in a practiced, fluid movement. Perversely, Clarissa felt the air leave her body as if the girth was being tightened around her own rib cage, corseting her, robbing her of breath.

He moved again, this time to lift the saddle off the horse. Duchess stamped as the girth trailed across her back and Clarissa grabbed it, finally looking up at his sharp jaw, high cheekbones, mocking mouth. “You know she doesn’t like that.”

Blue eyes bright in a tanned face gazed at her innocently, at odds with those smirking lips. Then he winked. If she had any ability to breathe normally, she would have gasped at the effrontery of the gesture.

“She’ll forgive anything of me, my lady.”

“Will she?” Clarissa had intended the words to be arch. Instead, they were a squeak. He was the cat today and she, in very truth, the mouse.

“She will indeed. I have her favorite treat.” He gave her a significant smile and grabbed the bridle on his way to the tack room.

Air. Clarissa desperately needed air.

She took a shuddering breath, focusing on the smells of horse, hay, and wood shavings as she reached for a soft brush to remove the dust that had settled on Duchess’s otherwise glossy coat during their ride. Joseph returned and ran his hand down the horse’s legs, lifting and inspecting her hooves. Clarissa felt the touch on her own skin, as if his rough palm was skimming down her thigh, her calf, as if he was examining her body.

She was running the brush over Duchess’s flank when he caught up with her, crouching next to her to check the last hoof for chips or stones. Clarissa’s pulse drummed in her ears. When he rose, he was close to her again, crowding her back against the horse’s bulk. She had to tilt her head to see his face, the knowing expression.

“That hat.” His voice was a rumble, his eyes the barest circle of blue around velvety black pupils.

“What about it?”

“It’s in my way.”

“Is it?” She removed it, dropping it to the floor.

“That’s better.” He stepped forward, his body touching hers, rough-calloused fingers skimming her jaw. Clarissa’s tongue traced her lower lip, heartbeat accelerating.

Duchess shifted, knocking into them, making them stumble apart.

“Damn horse.” Turning, Joseph unclipped her from the cross ties and led her to the other end of the barn, opening the back door to the paddock and letting her loose with an affectionate slap to her flank as she passed. Clarissa didn’t move, couldn’t move. She was pinned in place, every nerve on fire as she watched man and horse, blinking at the strong autumn sunlight streaming through the open door.

He stood for a few moments, giving her the opportunity to ogle his silhouette, his broad shoulders tapering to lean hips, the long, strong legs. The physique that daily hard, physical labor produced. When he pulled the door closed, the light dimmed again. Clarissa stood rooted to the spot as he sauntered back to her, his cap sitting back on his head at an arrogant angle. Resuming his place in front of her, he cupped her face in his hands, making her gasp.

“Too forward, my lady?”

Not trusting her voice, she shook her head, her gaze locked with his.

“Just forward enough?” Before she could respond, he bent forward, capturing her mouth in a light, sweet kiss, only sipping at her lips, yet somehow unleashing something dark and primal inside her. Her eyes fluttered closed, her hands lifting to his chest inside his open jacket, clutching at his shirt, trying to draw him closer, her mouth seeking more, her body pressing against his.

His rough cheek slid along her softer one, his lips moving against her ear. “You can’t kiss me like that and not have consequences for it.” A dangerous purr this tomcat had.

“What will you do?” She remembered the slap on Duchess’s flank, imagining his hand landing on her, reddening her bottom. Her thighs clenched together, liquid heat pooling there.

“Nothing in a spot this public.” He looked over her head to the yard in front of the stable where a pair of chickens scratched and pecked. It was empty of people, but that could change in an instant. “Come with me.” Pulling her hands away from his shirt, he backed into the tack room, drawing her after him and closing the door behind them.

“Someone could still come any time,” she said.

“Are you afraid?”

Her cheeks burned. “No.” What she felt was something beyond fear. Beyond shame. Beyond thought, even.

“Then…” He tugged her hands and she stepped into his arms, the strength of them winding around her waist making her knees wobbly. “Kiss me again.”

She did, her hands tunneling into his thick, dark hair, knocking his cap to the floor, opening her lips to admit his tongue seeking hers. A thrill of power went through her as she felt him hardening against her belly, knowing she was affecting him as strongly as he affected her. He smelled of warm skin and fresh air and his hair was silky as it slid through her fingers. She gave a little tug, his responsive moan vibrating on her tongue.

“Clarissa.” Her name on his lips against hers was an illicit thrill of its own.

“Yes,” she said, encouraging him as his hands went to the neck of her blouse, unbuttoning until he could brush the tops of her breasts with those clever lips.

A door slammed and Clarissa stiffened. “Joe.”

“Mmm.” He straightened and kissed her again as she struggled to re-button her blouse.

“Joe, stop. Someone’s here.” She fought the absurd urge to giggle as he squeezed her bottom.

“Fine.” Bending to retrieve his cap from the floor, he slapped it against one thigh to dust it off.

Clarissa opened the door to the tack room, knowing she was disheveled and probably blushing to boot. A strange woman stood just inside the barn doorway, a pleasant, expectant expression on her face. Clarissa took in her appearance in one quick, assessing sweep. A quietly expensive flower-print dress and modest jewelry murmured wealth instead of shouting it, but there was money here.

“Can I help you?”

“Is this Morgenstern Farm?” the stranger asked.

Joe emerged from the tack room, a shameless grin on his face, as if they hadn’t almost been caught playing their game in broad daylight. He pointed at the embroidery on his baseball cap that showed a horse with the words “Morgenstern Farm” stitched underneath. “That’s right. Joe Morgenstern.” He shook hands with the stranger. “My wife, Clarissa. What can we do for you?”

The woman’s face relaxed in a slight smile. “I’m Felicia Jones. My family’s moving here in a few months and we’re going to need to board our two horses. I don’t suppose you have the room?” Her gaze swept over the loose boxes, probably having counted the horses she could see in the pasture and hoping the tally of stalls was at least two shy of the number of animals outside.

“As a matter of fact, we do.” Clarissa led the woman down the row of stalls to the two at the end which were bare of bedding, having no occupants to warrant it and began her sales pitch.


Joe chuckled to himself as Clarissa showed the other woman around the stable, explaining the pasture rotation, the personalities of the other horses, the availability of local trails, and their own small practice paddock. Clarissa had been worried about that extra space in the stable, the lack of income it represented.

Walking out into the cool afternoon, he saw what must be the woman’s car. An expensive Volvo station wagon with New York plates. He idly wondered if the Joneses were from one of those tony suburbs north of Manhattan, if New Hampshire was going to seem like a tedious bore in comparison.

Whatever. They could always sample the delights of Boston. It was no business of his. Keeping the farm running and Clarissa happy, those were his only two goals in the world.

Clarissa emerged from the barn, absently deadheading a petunia spilling out of one of the window boxes at the front of the barn as she and Mrs. Jones concluded their discussion with a handshake.

“I’ll e-mail you our contract,” Clarissa said, smoothing the strawberry blond hair that was coming loose from the low knot she wore when exercising the horses. Her tweed riding jacket was buttoned again, but it only half-hid the glorious curve of her ass in tight jodhpurs tucked into glossy hunt boots.

Mrs. Jones waved as she got into her car and Joe returned to his wife to watch their visitor leave. Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, he drew her tight to his side.

“Our game was rather rudely interrupted,” he said, his eyes still fixed on the long driveway out to the town road.

Clarissa sighed. “I know. But we need the money.”

“We could always resume it.” His pulse sped at the thought and he wanted to laugh. Six years married and she could still do this to him with a look or with nothing at all.

Her teeth worried her lower lip. “And have six horses and a donkey breathing down our necks? It’s too close to feeding time.”

“You’re probably right.” He threaded his fingers in hers, leading her back to the barn to call the horses in for their evening meal. “Tonight?”

“You’re incorrigible.” But her smile told another story.

“Whatever my lady wishes,” he said, touching the brim of his cap.

Teeny Tiny Romance Contest

Back in June, I entered Cara McKenna’s Love Notes from Purgatory contest. The challenge was to write a convincing love story in less than 2,000 words.

Yup. Two thousand.

That’s not a lot of words.

My first reaction was, “Eeep. Good luck, people who enter. That sounds IMPOSSIBLE.”

Then I had an idea.

I wrote the idea up, hounded some of my critique partners for feedback and entered the contest. All the entries are now posted and mine is here.

I didn’t final, but a couple of my friends did – congratulations to Suleikha Snyder and Mica Kennedy for their entries and to everyone else who entered!

Follow the bouncing ball

“Are you published yet?”

This may be the writer’s least-favorite question from non-writing friends. Or perhaps it comes in second to, “How long does it take you to write a book?” Wow, does that depend on so many factors.

The question writers are more likely to ask each other is, “How do you cope with the waiting?” Because so much in publishing is about waiting. Waiting on feedback from beta readers and critique partners. Waiting on responses to agent queries. Then waiting on editorial feedback from your agent. Then waiting on editor’s responses to submissions. Then…

You get the idea. Writers wait a lot. So you need a coping strategy, especially if you’re as impatient and twitchy a person as I am.

My coping strategy is to write more. Production of what is (hopefully) my debut novel, ACTING UP, was followed by writing METHOD ACTING. I recently finished initial revisions on the third book, ACTING LESSONS and sent it off to my beta readers. LESSONS was, for a lot of reasons, a difficult book to write (which isn’t to say it’s not fun to read–hopefully. It just came out much more slowly than any other manuscript I’ve ever written before. I cut my usual 1,000 word/day goal in half and still struggled some days).

So having that book in my rear-view (for now, until beta reads and critique partner feedback starts coming back and I begin to re-revise), I embarked on a new project, FAST ACTING. This is a novella that foregrounds the good friends of the protagonists in METHOD.

It’s a project that’s living up to its name. Folks, this one has been super fun to write so far. A fun, flirty story between two wedding guests at an intimate destination wedding? A perfect follow-up to a more difficult project.

And as much as I hate the “How long does it take?” question, I do keep track of word counts and timing. I see this as practice for when (hopefully) I have externally imposed deadlines. I want to know what I’m capable of, what is realistic, and (very importantly) what isn’t. What I can promise and what I can’t. Also, setting my own deadlines is an exercise in professionalism.

As much as I love Scrivener’s word count tool for daily and overall goals, I’ve found Pacemaker’s more flexible and visual tools to be a valuable tool for charting historical output and tracking your progress. It has a nifty share-able widget. So if you’re interested in following the progress of a novella, by all means, follow the bouncing ball…

Some thoughts on audiobook narration and narrators (with recommendations)

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have strong opinions about audiobook narration. I tend to have strong opinions about a lot of things (my own mother, in her inimitable way, says that I am, “Never far from an opinion.”)

Ever since Audible instituted a return policy I’ve been both more adventurous about trying new narrators and absolutely ruthless in returning books that aren’t doing it for me. As a former actor, I not only hear things that drive me nuts, but I can identify them with specificity. A non-comprehensive list of narrator tics and traits that will have me reaching for my phone and muttering, “Nope,” are:

  • Strange accent choices that aren’t rooted in the text (one book I listened to had someone from Colorado speak in a weird, nasal, Annie Potts-in-the-original-Ghostbusters Brooklyn accent. It made my face contort in very…interesting ways. Not good ones.)
  • Ditto for character voice choices (one book I DNF-ed had a main character who sounded unnervingly like the “Sexy Baby” girl on that episode of 30 Rock. You know the one.)
  • Reading fight scenes in an INCREDIBLY! AMPED! UP! WAY! That indicates the narrator doesn’t believe it’s exciting enough as written.
  • Immature voices in general. This isn’t 100% fair of me, necessarily, because voices are what they are. But an audiobook narrator needs to convey a lot of different characters at, usually, a lot of different ages, and very childlike voices don’t have a lot of range.
  • Badly performed accents.
  • Narrators who. Have what I call. Shatner’s Disease. They pause. In weird. Places.

Basically, what all these boil down to are: this is distracting. It calls attention to the narrator, and away from what is being narrated. A good audiobook reader lets the story flow through the voice. You might occasionally notice something about their voice or characterization, but it should be something you notice that you like.

At the same time, I feel for audiobook narrators. I’ve probably committed some of the same “sins” in the one (to date) audiobook short story I recorded for my friend Jacob Clifton. (Ignore the random cats – they have nothing to do with the narrative and were just the photo I slapped up on SoundCloud when I created an account).

Basically, narrating a book is hard. It’s difficult to keep track of the characterization choices you’ve made, it’s vocally challenging (especially if you’re a woman trying to produce a creditable-sounding man’s voice), and meanwhile you have to read the text…perfectly. Which sounds like it should be the easiest part. It isn’t.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer up some of my favorite audiobook narrators and some of my favorite books that they have read:

  • I’ll start with the divine Kate Reading. I once described her thusly:

    Then she blew my mind and responded:

    I don’t know when I first encountered her, but it may have been when I bought her rendition of one of my favorite books, Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. Since then, I’ve listened to at least a hundred hours of her work and have only ever returned a book because I didn’t like the book. Never because of her reading. She also narrates either all or the vast majority of Loretta Chase’s excellent historical romances (Lord Perfect and Not Quite a Lady are personal favorites, but I have at least liked all of them).

  • Nicholas Boulton. The man I once described as:

    He has a sense of humor. He responded:

    In ensuing tweets I proceeded, apparently, to make him blush. It was among my finest hours. He brings gorgeousness and grit to the medieval The King’s ManHe’s also up for an Audie for Glitterland: Spires, Book 1 which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet, but well believe is worthy of the nomination.

  • In the mystery genre, I really enjoy the marriage of Barbara Rosenblat’s voice and the Mrs. Pollifax series. These globe-spanning books have to be an incredible challenge both in terms of consistency of recurring character choices over a long period of time and a cast of, if not thousands, definitely hundreds from seemingly every country on the planet.
  • In fantasy, Kyle McCarley’s reading of The Goblin Emperor was simply fantastic. And, frankly, having read this book multiple times with my eyes and at least once with my ears, the narrated version makes the incredibly complicated names and nicknames much easier to navigate.
  • Some (a few) authors are also excellent narrators. Neil Gaiman reads his own work incredibly well. I’d recommend anything, but I especially enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
  • The actor Alan Cumming is also an excellent narrator (you’d think all good actors would be good audiobook narrators. Nope. Some of them suffer from Shatner’s Disease). His readings of Scott Westerfeld’s YA, steampunk Leviathan series are especially fun. David Suchet reading Agatha Christie’s Poirot series is a particular delight, especially if you’re a fan of his small-screen portrayal of the Belgian detective. And, of course, Juliet Stevenson reading anything Austen.
  • I’m a huge Georgette Heyer fan and most of them are read by narrators that range from good to great, but my favorite of her books, A Civil Contract, is also read by my favorite of her narrators, Phyllida Nash. Ms. Nash also reads seven other Heyers.

Not all audiobooks that have ever been created are available (or they’re not all available in the U.S.). But if you can lay your hands on these via your local library’s audiobook CD collection, do:

  • Carole Boyd reading Stella Gibbons’ delicious Nightingale Wood. A favorite I’ve returned to again and again. Funnier even, I think, than Gibbons’ more well-known Cold Comfort Farm. If you can’t find it, console yourself with anything else that’s still available, including the fantastic Josephine Tey, Brat Farrar.
  • Ian Carmichael reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books. The late Mr. Carmichael was an absolute master of character, accent, and pacing. If you can’t find any of those, you can still get him reading three of P.G. Wodehouse’s comedic masterpieces.

I have to stop here or I might be here all day. At any rate, if you have any recommendations for great audiobooks and narrators, please leave them in the comments!

Good news!

I am thrilled to be able to announce that as of this morning I am represented by literary agent Amy Elizabeth Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

Getting an agent is a huge milestone and I’m really excited to work with Amy. She’s smart and enthusiastic and so, so very nice.

I’d give more details but I’m brain-dead with happiness right about now.

#Scrivathon16 – The Home Stretch (Raffles!)

Hello lovely visitor – we’re in the home stretch leading up to Scrivathon 2016. Scrivathon is basically a fun-run for fingers. A group of us are pledging to have butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard the day of November 12.

You can support us by pledging money (all funds go to Syria Relief), and if you’re a writer-person and would like to enter raffles for nifty things like page critiques or edits, Scrivener software, and other fantastic items and services.

More information on the raffles and how to enter are on our lovely hostess’ blog. And if you want to donate to my campaign (I have $0 raised so far and it is making me saaaaad edit: I got my first donation, YAYYY! Thank you Jenn!!), my Justgiving page is here.


Check out these other participants in the Scrivathon:

A.Y. Chao || Gurpreet Sihat || Hoda Agharazi || Deborah Crossland Maroulis || Morgan Hazelwood || Dante Medema || Miranda Burski || Maria Guglielmo || K.J. Harrowick || Rochelle Karina


Well, November is here and I’m NaNo-ing. Getting things off to a bang, because my in-laws will be arriving this evening for three days. That’s sure to be fantastic for productivity.

At any rate, I’m being a NaNo “rebel” this year. Instead of embarking on a fresh, new idea, I’m doing that top-to-bottom rewrite of Persuading Anna that I talked about here. Is two months enough time to have mulled it over? I don’t know–we shall see! I gave it a new title and even created a cover for NaNo:

Let’s do this.

Doing NaNo and want to be buddies? I’m here.