Guest Blogger Amy Rachiele: The Lure of Vampires


 Rachiele.author picToday’s guest chocolate is indie author Amy Rachiele.  Known primarily for her Mobster novels (Mobster’s Girl, Mobster’s Angel, etc.) she’s recently branched out into paranormal/historical.  She joins us today to talk about her latest book – Sybrina.  Welcome Amy!

What is so fascinating about Vampires?

Dark beauty



Night Dwelling.

The ideology surrounding vampires has existed for hundreds of years.  The thread of the vampire continues to captivate readers.  From Stoker to Rice to Meyer, the existence of vampires continues to find its way into stories, novels, and movies.

Sybrina is a cross genre novel that twists romance, action/adventure, and vampires into a historical piece.  It is told in alternate first-person point of view by the main characters, Sybrina and Elijah.  The entire story takes place on a clipper ship in 1866.  The culminating question the book poses is without change and the stages of life, would existence be bland and not worth living?

I envision Sybrina as savvy, strong-willed, and smart—a contemporary for the era.  Elijah, the vampire hero, encompasses the contemplative immortal, struggling to let go of his past and find his way in a world he cannot leave.  The antagonist, Vadim, is a vampire that is suffering from a malady of the mind that comes from the long years that immortality offers.

I anticipate this to be the first book in a series that will touch on other elements in vampire mythology.  Researching the extensive lore of the vampire uncovered an unbelievable amount of superstitions and tales.   Through Sybrina, I am weaving them together into a story of my own, piecing together the shards of history that compile the timeless legends of the vampire.


“May I kiss you, Miss Sybrina?”

Darkening irises show me the fire that burns under her skin.  She wants me, just as much as I want her.  Her entire body stiffens except her head, which nods very subtly yes.  I reach out my arm to caress her around the waist, hauling her close to me.  I stare into her eyes that are distinctly thirsty with need, using my hand to tip her head up and lean down, pressing my lips to hers.  My need is triumphant, reveling in the sensation, kicking away the blandness that tortures my spirit and replaced by sweet berries in springtime.   A flood of core memories stabs at the vibrancy awakened in me.  The touching and kissing become ravenous, stronger than bloodlust. Sybrina is wild with passion… for me.  My hold tightens and my hands roam, wanting more.  It is a feverish awareness that in all my long years I have never experienced.

An alarm whirrs in the deep recess of my mind.  Sybrina is fighting against me.  The cloud of passion pops like a boil.  Audible now is her struggle to be free of me.


amy cover

Fleeing for her life, Sybrina leaves behind everything to escape the dark
and ominous creature that killed her family.
She stows aboard a clipper ship and poses as her dead brother, Paul. The year is 1866,
an age in which science is a man’s field.
Can she solve the mystery of the creature that exsanguinates its victims before it claims her?

AVAILABLE as for e-readers at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Amy Rachiele is a military spouse and brat who spent many years volunteering and on staff for the Army National Guard and Department of Veteran Affairs with Family Support, Family Readiness, as well as, Families of the Fallen.  Amy devoted 10 years to teaching English to at-risk students in the Providence School System.  She holds a Master’s degree from Rhode Island College in English and Secondary Education.  Amy published book one in the Mobster Series, Mobster’s Girl, in 2012, and has continued to self-publish since.  Her novels have climbed to the bestseller lists nationally and internationally on Amazon.com for romantic suspense and family saga.  She is an active member of New England Independent Writers and has volunteered her time at her local library facilitating a writer’s group in the hope of inspiring other writers.  Amy hosts a public access cable show called Book Talk. Besides writing, she enjoys scrapbooking, sewing, and traveling.  Amy lives in Massachusetts with her son and husband.

Connect with Amy at:

amyrachiele’s website

Amy Rachiele’s FB page



Epic Booksigning with Nora Roberts



As a romance writer, I often write about dream dates, dream locations and dreamy men :-). But one of my own dreams was to sign my books alongside Nora Roberts. I got a taste of that at the Berkley Books signing at RWA and it was awesome. Then I was invited to sign at Turn the Page Bookstore, her bookstore in Boonsboro, MD, directly across the street from the Inn Boonsboro, the setting of several of her novels.

It was the quintessential small town bookstore, quaint and charming and wonderful. The staff was friendly and savvy, well versed in hosting huge booksignings. We signed books for four hours straight, with a steady stream of wonderful readers. At the end, there was a desperate search for one more copy of The Sweetheart Bargain (we sold out) and only a handful of my books left on the table.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking. :-). Scroll down for a question and a giveaway too!


IMG_5498.JPGclass=”alignright size-full” />






Tell me–do you attend booksignings? What has been your favorite booksigning experience? Coolest bookstore? Nicest author? Best new-to-you book? Have you ever been to Turn the Page?

I’ll draw one lucky winner to get either a print copy of THE SWEETHEART SECRET (US only) or ebook copy (if you prefer or are outside the US). Drawing on Sunday, and extra entries are given for sharing this post on FB/Twitter and liking my author page or following me on Twitter!



My Experiment with Seeds


I’m the kind of gardener who goes to the home improvement store (after the last frost) and buys oodles of plants, flowers mostly, that can be transplanted into my flower beds. One day I have no gardens. The next my yard is a veritable sea of color. :)

This year, for some reason or another, I decided that was cheating and instead of plants, I bought seeds.

my seeds


It took most of the summer for them to grow into flowers. Seriously. I had two, three and even four-foot green stems and some vine thing that tried to take over the entire front yard, even spreading under the porch and around to the front stairs! But no flowers.


under the porch

So suddenly around August 1 everything began to bloom.



My front flower beds looks like a jungle. LOL

almost up to the window now

My back porch planters are alive with color.

backporch flowers


I haven’t decided if the beauty and craziness was worth the long wait. But I do know that I love the surprise of the flowers and the riot of color.

So now I sit on my back porch and pray that we really don’t have the early winter they are predicting! Or at the very least that frost holds off!

How about you? Do you plant seeds or transplant ready-grown flowers? Are your gardens still alive?

susan meier





You can’t stop the music with Michelle Douglas


I’m of the firm belief that creativity is a muscle that can be developed and strengthened. The more you use it the stronger it gets, and one of my favourite creativity exercises is lying on the lounge staring out of the window up at the trees with music blaring playing in the background and letting my mind wander. What happens is that a set of lyrics will eventually detach themselves…and then the game begins.


Want an example? Smokie’s Living Next Door To Alice has these lines in it [set up in case you aren’t familiar with the song (but, seriously, you guys know it, right?)]: The singer/narrator has been in love with Alice forever but she’s leaving home and it appears he’s lost his chance with her. Sally has been in love with the singer/narrator forever and she says to him: “Now Alice is gone, but I’m still here. You know I’ve been waiting
 for twenty-four years.”

So…what if the singer/narrator and Sally now have a marvelous romance? But what if in twelve month’s time Alice comes back? Sally is going to be seriously insecure, right? Alice might have left hoping he’d come after her and now decides to fight for him. It’s a set-up for a nice juicy conflict. And then I play with taking that conflict further, developing a story…idly, while I’m humming and staring out at the trees. The story can go anywhere I want it to. [Aside: in this particular instance I did decide he was a big whoosy wimp so Alice and Sally become best friends, leave together for the city and have marvelous adventures.]

Want another example? The Split Enz song “I Got You” is about some possessive agoraphobic guy who never leaves the house and who worries whenever his lover does—where does she go, who does she see, and why won’t she stay in with him? My writer brain rubs its hand together in glee! Ooh, why is he like this? How could I turn him into an attractive hero? What heroine would put up with him? This story is still germinating…but it excites me. It has potential. :-)


Last week I watched a documentary about the Bee Gees. There are four songs I can’t get out of my head: Don’t Forget To Remember Me, You Win Again, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Alone. There’s a story hidden within those four songs that I will discover. Eventually. :-) Whether I ever decide to write said story is another matter entirely. The object of this exercise is to make connections, to play, and to just have fun. It’s giving my creativity muscle a workout.

Would you like some more inspiration? Try listening to these songs:

* Babooshka by Kate Bush

* You’re So Vain by Carly Simon (and then follow it up with Jesse)

* Rolling in the Deep by Adele

There’s so much potential for story ideas in those four songs alone!

So what about you—do you create stories in your mind around certain songs? Is there a song or two you think might set my writer brain on fire?


‘If the shoe fits’ has a whole new meaning these days


By Jackie Braun

Last night, as I put away the shoes piled up near the back door, it hit me anew how fast my boys are growing up. There on the carpet in front of me was proof. So, after a little arranging, I took a picture for posterity. The result is below. My 14-year-old’s size 13 shoe is on the left, mine is in the middle and my 9-year-old’s is on the right.


The saying “If the shoe fits,” has a new meaning in my house these days. My boys are growing up (and out of their shoes!) and they are doing it much too quickly for my liking.

As I mentioned in my last post, my older son started high school this year.  It seems like just yesterday he was learning his colors and singing the alphabet song. Now Son One has discovered girls.

His little brother is in fourth grade. Son Two discovered girls in preschool, but in that sweet, silly way little boys do.

Son Two still comes to me with all of his questions and concerns. He looks to me for answers, and I’m usually able to provide them.

Son One has made it plain lately that he doesn’t think I know anything.

But that’s all right–annoying but all right. I went through that phase as a teenager, too.  I knew everything, certainly way more than my parents did. I remained smugly sure of my superior intellect until after I graduated college and began life as a full-fledged adult. Suddenly, I was back to soliciting my parents’ advice and appreciating their time-tested wisdom.

Eventually, Daniel will come around again. I might be old and gray by that point, but I also will be right. :-)

Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 romance novels and novellas.  




Romeo – by Donna Alward


One day this summer, my husband, daughter and I went for fish and chips at a place that just opened in the strip mall in our little town. When we were done, my daughter asked if we could pop into the pet store next door, because they might have kittens to visit. I love baby kitties, so I said yes.

HermanThere were no kittens. Instead there was a big tabby named Herman. He was from a local shelter looking to be adopted. And he was LOVELY. We fell in love.

We filled out the paperwork, I was excited and posted a picture, then I took my older daughter to see him and…he was gone. He’d already been adopted. He’d only been at the store two days…clearly he was a special cat!

I was heartbroken. I cried the whole way home and sniffled through dinner. I didn’t want a different cat. I wanted Herman.

Fast forward a week later and I gave in and went back to the store with my youngest. And we met Romeo.

Romeo is white with black markings on his face and bottom half, which makes him odd looking from the back. When they opened the crate, he basically stepped out and crawled up my daughter’s shirt and hugged her. How on earth can you say no to that? After texting pics to my eldest and husband, we went home and got our crate and drove to the shelter to do the official adoption and then back to the store to pick him up. We weren’t taking any chances this time.

RomeoThe problem? I had never integrated a cat into a household where there was already another cat.

They gave us some info at the shelter, so when we arrived home we set up food, water, a litter box and his little bed from the store in our front room with the doors closed. He made himself right at home in that room. And he loved when the kids went in to watch TV – he’d climb up and curl into their laps and snuggle all day long. He and Boo however? Interesting.

There was much growling at the door, for one. They could see each other since our French doors have windows. There was a whole territory thing going on. And after several days we introduced them for short periods at a time. When there was aggression, I put Romeo back in his room. But I hated having him segregated in there. It seemed mean. But then if I let him out, he tended to bully my other cat.

Then we had a bunch of company, because my nephew got married and my sister and brother-in-law were here for five days for that event. We held the rehearsal dinner here too…and my sister, who has had many cats over the years, said I needed to let them sort it out. We’d moved past the hissing and growling for sure, but I didn’t want either cat to stress out. But I let her let him out.

We had a few stand downs. Some smacks with paws. But then…quiet. Mostly quiet. It didn’t take long at all. On Monday, all the company was gone, the kids were in school, and I was here working and I realized THEY WERE PLAYING. Taking turns chasing each other, stalking each other, meowing and chirping! Romeo is a real chirper by the way and I love it. After work my husband got home and found them sleeping on our bed… TOGETHER. Romeo2

So now Romeo is fully integrated into our home and is proving to be a real lover, just like his name suggests.

But he does like to stir things up. Like in this pic where he was just preparing to give Boo’s butt a smack…





Contest! Find the mistake


First let me tell you that I love, love, LOVE the cover for my October release, THE UNEXPECTED HONEYMOON.  This is the third story in my 72 Hours to Fall in Love trilogy.  In this book, perpetual romantic Larissa Boyd, who was ditched by her fiance in SWEPT AWAY BY THE TYCOON, heads to Mexico to lick her wounds.  There she meets up with Carlos Chavez, a hotel tycoon who has given up on love. I love how the cover captures the romance of a Mexican beach resort. Harlequin’s art department outdid itself.

Larissa cover 2


A holiday to remember… 

Widower Carlos Chavez manages La Joya del Mayan, the most romantic resort in Mexico. On good days, the romance passes unnoticed; on dark days, it only reminds him of his loss. 

But the honeymoon suite’s latest guest, Larissa Boyd, has rocked his steadfastness. Stunningly beautiful, she seems lost. And no wonder…she’s on a honeymoon for one!  

The chemistry is instant—and their similarities run deep. Could it be that the two loneliest hearts on the island have found love…in the most unexpected of places?

CORRECTION: Harlequin almost outdid itself.  Read that back cover copy again.  There’s a teeny mistake.  See if you can find it and put the answer below.  One lucky commenter will win an copy of THE UNEXPECTED HONEYMOON.

Meanwhile, you might want to check out the other two titles in the series – THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK and SWEPT AWAY BY THE TYCOON.

Good luck! And have a great weekend!

Barbara Wallace is currently living in her writing cave and drafting her next Harlequin Romance.  She takes total responsibility for any typos in this blog post. 



Do We Really Need a Dishwasher? by Samantha Hunter


On one recent episode of Property Brothers, there was a woman who wanted two dishwashers in her kitchen — two! (She also had 2 washing machines and 2 dryers, though I can sort of see that with 4 kids). Anyway… I thought two dishwashers was insane — I mean, you have 4 kids! ;)  But dishesseriously, my sisters and I grew up washing dishes, that was part of our contribution to the household, and how we learned responsibility. If mom cooked, we cleaned.We have a lot of family stories around doing the dishes, and my family home never included a dishwasher.

My father, who lived there until he passed, always did his own dishes (and often did them for my mother, too). After she died, he and I spent time each week doing some housecleaning and the disges, and I cherish those memories. The ceramic shelf goose that he had over his sink watching us as we washed sits over my sink now.

Many times, even now, even though we have a dishwasher, I like washing them in the sink — it’s faster, and I suspect uses less water. But on all of the home reno shows, and on the international ones, even, people seem to drop over in seizures of helplessness if a kitchen doesn’t include a dishwasher.

I actually never had a dishwasher until I was 31, and I only had that one for a few years before we moved to a house which didn’t have one, and then we bought our house, which didn’t have one for the first five years. So we’ve only had this dishwasher for about six years.

Though we have been using our dishwasher most of the time, it developed an odor that was obnoxious, and apparently this is a repetitive problem because of some issue with the filter with this brand. Also, we don’t put everything in it, and usually wash some things anyway, and then, there is the occasion when everything doesn’t get clean.

So we thought, for this past week, why not just wash them ourselves? So we have, and we have survived. We do dishes once midday, and once after dinner. Truthfully, we don’t have a ton, which is why we probably only set the dishwasher off every 2-3 days. We never run out of anything, and we also get to chat as we wash and dry the dishes, so there are some upsides.

The downside is, for me, dry, irritated hands, but I can stick dh with the washing, generally. ;) Even rubber gloves don’t help, because my hands get clammy in those. But, it’s been an interesting experiment. I don’t know if we’ll continue to do it, but maybe. I think when we have large dinners or holidays, and it fills up in one load, definitely the dishwasher is a plus, but I really question if we need to use it for our everyday dishes.

So what about you? Dishwasher or not? Family rituals around dish cleaning? Could you imagine having more than one? Or could you imagine easily living without one?


To Venice or not to Venice…? by Fiona Harper


They say that Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Selflessly, I have decided to visit and report back to you all to let you know whether that’s true.

VeniceOkay, maybe that isn’t strictly why I’m in Venice at the moment. It has more to do with the fact it’s my 25th wedding anniversary and, since my husband and I visited for one day on our Italian honeymoon, we decided to go back and see a little more of this magical city – or La Serenissima, as the locals call it.

Here’s me and Mr H 25 years ago, looking younger, prettier and definitely thinner!


And, as for Venice? Well, I think I’ll let you judge for yourself just how romantic she is:







Foreign editions!


OKate Hardyne of the great joys of writing for Harlequin Mills and Boon is knowing that my stories are enjoyed all around the world. I’ve been translated into more than twenty languages (some of whom don’t share the same script as English, even – Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Japanese). And it’s always a thrill when the postman hands me a box with a Harlequin logo on it, because I never know quite what’s going to be in it. The downside, after more than sixty books published with M&B (OK, so number 60 is officially out next month, but you can get an early copy in the UK right now, so it counts…), is that I’m rapidly running out of shelf space!

I was talking about this to lovely Historicals author Louise Allen over lunch, and she said that she had the answer – instead of keeping a physical copy of every translation, she just keeps the front cover. What a great idea! So I started a project at the weekend to do exactly that. (I’m still mulling over how I’m going to do it – alpha order or publication order? And then, within that, publication order or country order?) It’s a long-term thing (I’m doing ten books a day, and will gradually shift the large number of boxes in our hallway before I get threatened with divorce on the grounds of untidiness), but I thought you might like to see some of the differences between covers.

So here are some of the covers from Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached.

This one’s from Hungary (they’re more like little magazines than books). sept id hungary This one’s from Italy. The book’s set in Capri, and that is indeed where the front cover is set. sept id italy This one’s from Poland. Gotta love that sports car :) sept id poland This one’s from America. (He doesn’t look Italian to me. But then, authors have no say in their covers. Otherwise I’d have Antonio Banderas on every single one of mine!) sept id us This one’s from Finland, and I think it’s really romantic.       sept id finland And this one’s from Denmark.           sept id denmarkI love the way they all have very different approaches. My absolute favourites are the Manga copies – here’s a middle page plus front and back cover from The Doctor’s Royal Love Child, part of the Penhally Bay miniseries. Note the dog. (I was so pleased with the dog. Even though the dog is actually supposed to be a black flat-coated retriever – I stole the dog (and her name) from my late friend Margaret McDonagh, on condition I gave the dog puppies and let Mags name half of the litter and her heroine could adopt two! That’s the really fun bit of working on a continuity book – you get to play with the other authors.)jan manga inside jan manga back jan manga front So what kind of surprises do you enjoy getting most in the post?

Kate’s latest book, Crown Prince, Pregnant Bride, is out now in the US, UK and Aus. You can find out more about Kate and her books at her website and her blog. Kate has actually updated her blog, and she is on Facebook most days if you want to come and say hello :o) (She is on Twitter, but she’s not very good at it…)

1 2 3 4 5 47 48