Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Blogger: Annie Rayburn

Paul Craddock and his Holiday Quandary

Hi, everyone. I’m Paul Craddock, a character from Annie Rayburn’s e-book, Bittersweet Obsessions. She sent me over here because I’m in something of a quandary. It’s the first Holiday celebration together for me and my wife, Teriza. I want to get a special present for her, but everything I think of feels clich├ęd or not quite right. We’ve got our tree up and trimmed. The lights are hung outside, but it’s looking bare underneath that tree. Except for the five presents Teriza has under there for me. Yeah, five. Talk about pressure! Can you help me?
Here are some things you should know about her in order to cater your suggestions toward her tastes. She’s—How should I put this?—rather wealthy but isn’t pretentious about it. She’s quite an accomplished cook and develops her own recipes for various magazines, is currently in her second trimester of pregnancy and her back is starting to ache. Did I mention how awesome her baby bump is?

What’s that? (He looks over his shoulder, then back.) Her cousin, Brekke, says I sound like a wuss. (Shakes his head.) Where was I?

Oh, yeah. A present for Teriza. We’re already doing the Tiki Hut thing this week as a post-Thanksgiving treat, so a tropical vacation is out. I should probably mention that I have a few business interests and some money of my own, so don’t skimp on the suggestions. I might just go for something big.

Whoever comes up with the winning present or inspires her present gets a copy of our love story. If you already own it, then a copy of one of Annie’s backlist. It’s embarrassing how many steamy details Annie included in Bittersweet Obsessions, but that’s her gig, y’know? Sexual tension, erotic romance, definite HEA. She promises “Sizzling romance that tugs at your heart.”

- - - - -

One woman, three men. Which will trigger her obsession?

Bittersweet Obsessions features Annie Rayburn’s sensual race of Crainesian’s in a story of ancient mating customs turned upside down. To Crainesians, love means one perfect mate. Could testing centuries-old beliefs bring everything they desire?

Read a blurb, chapter excerpt and find buy links on Annie’s website.
Like her on Facebook; follow on Twitter

Ready? Put on your thinking caps and throw out those ideas in the comments below. It might be something you’re hoping for that you think any woman would love. Go for it. You could be the winner!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wanna Know What's HOT?

It's my new Kindle Fire!

Isn't she beautiful :)

Some of you asked if I'd talk about it. Well, of course! Who doesn't like to talk about new toys.

Notice how I placed it on top of the synopsis I'm supposed to be working on? Yeah, that's the way it's been.

I love it!

Don't expect a real review. This is my first e-reader. And I have done very little with it except download books and read. Since I don't know how other readers and tablets work or perform, I can't compare. And I might state something that's totally obvious on all devices. It is what it is.

The size (yes, I measured) is a half inch longer and a half inch wider than a mass market paperback. And way thinner. The weight is about the same as an average hard bound book. I've held it in one hand for several pages without a problem. I've laid it flat and read. I haven't read on the sofa or in bed. Yet.

You can set how long you want it to stay awake without activity from you before it goes to sleep. The default is five minutes.

I can adjust the brightness from dim to oh-whoa-here-I-AM-in-your-face. There are many font combinations using serif and non-serif styles from tiny to gigantic. There are three line spacing options, and three color combinations for reading: black on white background, white on black background, and black on parchment background.

It's very touch sensitive, which I love. Think feather, not hammer. Since it's a touch screen, there are fingerprints. They wipe right off at the end of the day. Or whenever they bother you. The tail of a t-shirt works great. Since the weather is getting cooler, I may be wearing things other than t-shirts, so I'll probably take a shirt I need to throw away, cut a square out of it, and call it a Kindle Cloth.

It charges from low to full in 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I left the WiFi on at first and the charge lasted a couple of days Now I only used the WiFi a couple of times. I don't know how long it lasts with the WiFi off. Maybe double that. Still testing. I can go to the internet - so far I've only gone to Amazon to download books. I can download apps - some are preloaded - I haven't messed with those yet, but I'm sure I will. The same with music.

Nor do I have a cover. Reviews say the existing covers don't fit exactly right - most a little too snug and some don't close correctly. So I'll probably check once a week or so to see if there are new offerings or second generations of the existing ones. There are a couple I really like the looks of. And now that I know how I use my Fire, I know which ones will work best for me. I know I want one.

I bought the Kindle Fire to read books. I've download several - all by bloggers I know. That means I am finally reading your books :)

I'm halfway through the first one. I wanted to read them all first, but that was impossible. So I closed my eyes and pointed.

I feel as if I'm reading faster on the Fire than I do with a regular book. Don't know if that's true, but that's how it feels.

So that's about it.

If you have questions or want to know anything else or something specific, ask in the comments. I'll explore and try to find the answer.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things about turkeys:

10. Only the males gobble

  9. Females click

  8. "Turkey in the Straw"

  7. Their eggs hatch in 28 days

  6. They have about 3500 feathers at maturity

  5. They are very fast

  4. But not very smart

  3. Wild turkeys sleep in trees

  2. Tryptophan

And the #1 thing about turkeys:

  1. Turkey sandwiches

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Blogger: L.M. Gonzalez

L.M. Gonzalez is my friend Lupe Gonzalez. She and I are both members of SARA - San Antonio Romance Authors.

Before we get to Lupe's post, I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for many people and things in my life. And here Under the Tiki Hut, I'm most thankful for all of you who continue to stop in and say hi every once in a while.

= = = = = = = = = =

Gloria Amaya never dreamed she would fall in love again. In fact, she felt love had passed her by. For the most part, she was fine with that. She had two grown sons, one in college and her youngest, about to graduate from high school. Content – that’s the feeling she had. And that seemed enough for her.
The only other thing she really wanted was a rose garden. However, she hadn’t inherited her dad’s green thumb. Her friend, Tanya, suggested she contact her husband, Wayne. He owned a lawn and garden service and he could make any flower or plant flourish. Tanya confessed to Gloria that she believed Wayne got more pleasure from digging in the dirt than by being close to her. But, that’s another story.

For some reason, though, Wayne couldn’t make it to Gloria’s house, so he sent another gardener who also had his own lawn and garden service. When Gloria opened the door, she had her smile ready for Wayne. Matt Cerda stood on her porch. The smile froze on her face. Her mouth went dry. He was bronzed by the sun. His muscles strained against the white T-shirt he wore. The jeans showed off his strong legs. His dark hair waved with the slight breeze in the hot summer air.

Gloria closed her eyes and imagined herself on a sunny beach with this man for once forgetting her kids. Hey, they were grown. They could spare her for a few days. He held out his hand and she took it and together they walked up the beach. She felt the sand at her feet and wiggled her toes, heard the whoosh of the water as the soft wind blew over it. She leaned her head on Matt’s shoulder. Could it be possible? Was she really here with a man?

For years, her life had been consumed with kids, school and homework. Now, a whole new world seemed to be opening up to her. A world where she could be a woman again with a man like Matt by her side.

Gloria opened her eyes and she saw Matt. He grinned.

“Are you ready?”

“For what?”

“For a night of dancing and love under the tiki hut?”

Gloria saw her surroundings and she wasn’t standing at her doorway with Matt on her porch. She didn’t have a wilted rose garden to worry about. She saw herself amidst a sandy beach, blue water and a gorgeous man asking her out on a date.



L. M. Gonzalez lives in South Texas with her two sons. She obtained a degree in Business Administration because her dad advised her to "get a trade". However, in 1976 she wrote her first story and has continued writing stories since then. In 2001 she joined Romance Writers of America and her local chapter. This was the year that she decided to pursue publication of her stories. L. M. loves to write stories about Latinas, their lives and their loves, as well as about motherhood and single parenting.



Books available here:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten reasons why writers write:

10. To make a mountain of moolah

  9. To enjoy all the praise and adulation heaped upon them

  8. Nobody told us about critiques and bad reviews

  7. Revenge

  6. It's the only way to make those characters shut up

  5. To share things we believe are important

  4. To find the emotional story behind the story

  3. Because we can

  2. To entertain

And the #1 reason writers write:

  1. Because we can't stop

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Blogger: Jo Hedges

A Special Celebration

Thanks for inviting me here, Carol. I needed a break from my writing. This is also an important occasion and Under the Tiki hut is the best place to enjoy it.

I’m a South African expat living in Kenya, East Africa. Departing for the US yesterday, I left a dejected husband, who, because of work commitments couldn’t join me. Behind him sat a string of sad-looking cats that, for obvious reasons have to stay home! Hubby has never been to Malibu. Neither have I but as a writer I go anywhere. I’ve visited many places in that secret place in my head!

I wriggle my toes in the soft white sand and watch lazily as the azure waves lap the beach a few feet from my chair. For a moment I dwell on the fact that this is a celebration; this moment should be shared by the two people who’ve made it happen!

Oh well, no use moping about what could have been. I sip my iced tea and lean back comfortably. I’m here; the weather is perfect and the sun rays feel balmy on my skin. I intend to enjoy every moment.

I close my eyes…

I awake slowly. I know I’ve only dozed for a few minutes. I feel rejuvenated and relaxed at the same time. Squinting up the beach I see a tall, slender man approaching. Something in his swinging gait reminds me of my beloved back home in Africa.

Although my husband achieved the big six-oh this year, to me he’s still the same gorgeous hunk as when we met at school back in the mid-sixties. He was a swashbuckling 17 year-old; I, innocent as a babe, was two years younger.

The man on the beach came closer. His hair was silvery-white and curled around the ears in that endearing manner just like my husband’s does. I could almost make out his features now - he was that close – but the afternoon sun on the water caused the image to shimmer. I could see he had craggy lines around the eyes and mouth which testify to years of smiling, sometimes of sadness but mostly enjoying life.

I was mesmerised by the approaching stranger. About three meters from where I lay, he gave a little bow, dipping one shoulder and smiled at me. My senses reeled and my heart missed a beat. He was just like…

At my chair, he sank to his knees in the sand, laid a muscled arm across me and hugged me close.

“You didn’t think I’d miss our 40th wedding anniversary, did you, my love?” he said as he looked at me in that special way.

Taking my hand, he eased me off the chair and pulled me towards him. That’s my man. After all these years, I still feel the tenderness as he encircles me with his love. Arms around each other, we walked towards the Tiki Hut and the romantic candle-lit dinner set out by the cabana boys.

: : : : : : : : : :

I'm a writer/magazine journalist living as a South African expat in Kenya. I've been published in several SA magazines. I regularly write about for an adventure magazine about our motorbike tour through South Africa when we're on leave; I've written for a health and wellness magazine and also had an editorial on pet travel, published in a travel magazine. Recently I became a help-writer for a weekly farmer's magazine. I've had two articles published to date, with on-going stories in the magazine fast-track.

In between I work on The Great African Novel.

I've been blogging since October 2008 and write about my experiences in the beautiful valley within the Great Rift Valley. My blog is

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

In honor of veterans today on Veterans Day/Remembrance Day.

The top ten things about veterans:

10. They fought to keep us safe

  9. They fought to keep the freedoms we enjoy

  8. Some watched as their buddies died

  7. Some were injured

  6. Some never came home

  5. Some came home to spitting, jeers, and protests

  4. All have parents

  3. Most have families of their own

  2. Some need our help

And the #1 thing about veterans:

  1. All deserve our respect

Dear Veteran - Thank you for your service.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: Stephen Tremp

The two settings of my novel BREAKTHROUGH take place in sunny southern California and in frigid Boston during February and March. It’s a tale of two cities. After a long day of chasing bad guys around the world through wormholes, my characters sure could use detour to the Tiki Hut! You know, to relax and chill out. Lay in a hammock. Dig their toes deep into the warm, white sand and drink a few Mai Tais.

Problem is, duty calls and interrupts their dreams. No rest for the weary. And what the heck is a good night’s sleep anyway?

Chase Manhattan, my protagonist of the BREAKTHROUGH Series, was raised in Newport Beach, California and currently resides in nearby Laguna Beach, one city to the south in Orange County. Chase loves the surf and sand.

Excerpt from BREAKTHROUGH:

“Chase drove down Coast Highway with the top down. He was thankful for the blue skies, warm weather, and the women walking in shorts that showed off their tanned legs. He shivered as he thought of the unforgiving cold in Boston. He loved the city and its people, but he was no match for the subfreezing temperatures.”

Chase, a twenty-six year old associate professor of physics at the University of California – Irvine, likes to jog on the beach a few times a week. It’s a great way to stay in shape and clear his mind from chasing bad guys and saving the world. However, it’s also a place of great danger, where an awesomely sexy female assassin plants her seeds of seduction and finds an open door into his life, tears his house apart, and tries to kill him. Yeah, Chase could definitely use a Mai Tai at the Tiki Hut after that deadly encounter.

Not only Chase has an affinity with the sea-green ocean and soft salty sea breezes. My supporting characters would also love to visit the Tiki Hut. Fred Merrill and Nancy Hudgins, two of Chase’s close friends who are helping him, certainly feel so. They were to take an island-hopping vacation, only to have to put it off in order to help Chase save the world.

Nancy chewed on her lower lip. “Hmm.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe we signed on for this.”

“It’s for the greater good,” he said, reaching out and cupping her hands.

“You were officially retired from the business. We were supposed to take a long vacation, island hopping around the South Pacific and drinking Mai Tais.”

“That was until I met Chase.”

At least Fred and Nancy retain their sense of humor through the adventure. Their trademark calling card after a major victory is to email Nicky and his friends a picture of themselves holding Mai Tai’s, waving and smiling wide, standing in front of a life guard tower on Laguna Beach. I think Chase owes Fred and Nancy a one-month stay at the Tiki Hut! What do you think?

My antagonists, Nicholas Fischer, Jr. and his psychotic cohorts, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts and it’s colder than $#@#&#^%% in greater Boston when the story takes place. I’m confident Nicky and his friends would appreciate a stop at the Tiki Hut. But he’d better come incognito and have a wormhole ready for his escape. Otherwise, Chase and Fred might spot him and beat the hell out of him.

Stephen Tremp is the author of the BREAKTHROUGH Series. Check out a synopsis of his next book Opening, coming January 2012!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Open the Door

Last Monday I told you about my love affair with sandals. Sigh.

True confession - I also have a thing for doors. Doors fire my imagination right up. I wonder what's going on behind them when they're closed.

Open doors always look so inviting that I want to venture inside to see what's there.

Shuttered doors keep a double secret. Do they hide a beautiful door or a plain one? Are they hiding a treasure or a monstrosity?

Sometimes I wonder why the owners of some doors make them look this way. I have an image of the owner of this house.

I also like doors that call themselves gates because they're not all there. They keep us out, but let us see inside - "Nanny, nanny, boo, boo, you can't come in."

Doors represent opportunity - when opportunity knocks. And choices - "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

How about you? Do you like doors? Do doors fire up your imagination?

Maybe Jim Morrison had a thing for doors, too :)

Can you write a story or paragraph about one of these doors? Or use one in your WIP?

Happy Monday!

Tried to fix the wonky spacing. Failed. :( 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things to do with leftover Halloween candy:

10. Throw it away

  9. Add it to a milkshake

  8. Use it as an ice cream topper

  7. Take it to the office

  6. Put it in cereal or oatmeal

  5. Make a chocolate sauce

  4. Donate it to a shelter

  3. Let it melt in your coffee

  2. Munch on it for your muse

And the #1 thing to do with leftover Halloween candy:

  1. Take it to the bedroom - you'll figure it out :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Blogger: Sonali Dev

Please welcome Bollywood Star, Ria Parkar…

You know what I’ve yearned for my entire life? Exactly this. A blanket on the sand under me, endless ocean in front of me, and not a soul in sight except that gorgeous, shirtless creature wielding a hammer as if he were the Norse god, Thor himself. Sigh. I could watch him forever, chiseling and slamming all that raw wood together to build a tikihut just for me. I’ve been a little homesick lately. It’s Diwali, the biggest Indian Holiday and I’ve been craving all things Diwali—firecrackers and oil lamps and ghee-soaked sweets. All this black and orange Halloween spookiness has only made things worse.

So my darling husband’s building me a tikihut here in Malibu, just like the one on our terrace in Mumbai overlooking the Arabian Sea. And while the startling turquoise stretched out in front of me isn’t quite the dusty gray-blue of the waves back home, I think I might be able to handle it.

And right about now, who’s watching the water anyway? It’s a toss-up between his glorious behind as he bends over to lift up the thatched canopy, and his undulating pecs as he raises it over the frame. The way those low slung board shorts are molding him, it’s a miracle I can pull my gaze away long enough to take in the sunlight dancing across his sweat-slick shoulders. He pulls back the hammer and rams it into the nail he’s holding.

Suddenly he yells, the hammer flies out of his hand and he doubles over. I jump up and run to him, clutching my own thumb as if he’s just smashed it with a hammer.

He’s hopping around, emitting incoherent swearwords in staccato bursts. It reminds me of a yelping puppy, one with an impressive vocabulary. I chase him in circles, trying to reach for his hands, my heart slamming in my chest. Finally, he lets me pry his fingers apart. His face is scrunched up, his feet are dancing a little pain dance. Bloody hell! This is all my fault. Tears pool in my eyes as I pull his trembling fingers to my lips. He strokes his thumb across my mouth and whispers in my ear. “Can you suck on it to make it better?” His smile nudges my cheek.

I open my mouth and bite his stupid thumb with such force he repeats the entire drama over again. The hopping, the yelping. I shove him into the sand, fuming. He goes down with more grace than any lying jerk should ever be blessed with and props himself up on those Greek-god arms, grinning his little boy smile, the one that’s made my head spin for as long as I can remember.

The sun is shining into his face, setting everything on fire—the silver crystals of his eyes, his ebony hair, the diamond sand sparkling against his toasted olive body. He pulls me down against him.

“The next time you do that to me I’m going to kill you, I swear.” Last year he scared me half to death by pretending to be paralyzed just to make some sick point.

“You know you’re only mad because I’m the better actor, right?”

I dig my elbow into his ribs. “Tell that to me on the red carpet at the Filmfave awards next month.”

He smiles, and my anger melts in the warm pride glowing in his eyes.

“You know what? We haven’t celebrated that Best Actress nomination yet.” He wiggles his brows at me.

I wiggle mine right back. “I know just the place,” I say and lead him to our tikihut.


Sonali Dev’s first attempt at writing came when her mother caught her writing couplets about her first grade math textbook instead of doing her homework. It took her years to figure out that wanting to write down every thought that popped into her head probably meant she was a writer. Five years in architecture school with professors yelling “sketches not words” finally got the point across and she embraced her mad love for words. A love she combines with her love for Bollywood to conjure up stories that make a crazy tangle with her life as wannabe supermom and domestic goddess, and disgruntled corporate minion. Sonali lives in Naperville, IL with her very patient and often amused husband and two children who demand both patience and humor, and of course her characters who can’t stop doing Bollywood dances inside her head.

Sonali's manuscript, Bollywood Bride, is currently under review by publishers. In it, Bollywood star Ria Parkar returns home to Chicago after ten years to escape a scandal in Mumbai and comes face-to-face with the man she betrayed for stardom. Vikram Jathar is no longer the smitten boy who chased Ria across the globe. But he's still the only man who can melt through her legendary reserve. He's also the one she's destined to destroy... 

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