The All-time Best Way To Create Life-like Scenes

howthheadSome twenty years ago, I visited Ireland for educational purposes. While I was there to enhance my English skills and prepare for a pretty important test, I also made sure to travel and check out the many fantastic places around the country.

One of the places I had the pleasure to visit while in Ireland was Howth Head. I was in Ireland for several months in the winter of 1992-1993 and even with the cold and unforgiving weather the view from the train was impressive.

A walk on the beach, even under cold temperatures and blasting winds was mandatory. The pier was packed with docked boats waiting for better weather to pepper the dark sea with colorful sails. The angry waves crashed against the rocks with purpose, spraying white veils high in the air.

My walks around the peninsula took me all the way to the lighthouse before I made my way back to the village for some food and to catch the train back to Dun Laoghaire.

That day's adventure imprinted in my mind and has always teased me to go back to Ireland for another visit. The images I carried back with me were painted in my memory and it is what I drew from to write the beach scenes in Ecstasy by the Sea.

The hotel described in the book is a real hotel, often used to celebrate and officiate weddings. Although I never made it inside the hotel, I walked on the beach and admired the same view seen from its balconies.

It's our personal belief that drawing stories and scenes from personal experience makes them richer and more colorful, almost life-like as they should be. We only hope that the experiences and emotions we both brought forth in writing the book are as vivid to readers as living the moments we drew from were for us.

Do you enjoy reading about places you haven't visited? Do books make you want to travel and see with your own eyes the locations described in the stories you read?



 NOTE: This blog post was originally created and published at participating blog hosts during Hot Beach Romance's blog tour. 

The True Gift of Parenthood

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When I checked my email this morning, my inbox had been inundated with “Happy Father’s Day” emails. Most of them tried to sell me something, but a particular one caught my eye and made me want to write this post.

Father’s day. The day always brought inner conflict during my childhood. You see, my father passed away when I was two and I barely remember him. My pseudo-memories come from many stories my mother relentlessly told me over the years. She kept him alive for me. My own memories of him come from observation of the world he left behind.

I know of his humor and high spirits because I was privileged to have read his writing. I know of his musicality because I inherited his well-loved and played guitar. I know of his love of Japan’s rich culture and history because he left a shit-load of books on the subject, all clearly read multiple times.

During the first half of my elementary school life, I used to dread father’s day. I was the only one in class who would be making a gift without a recipient. I didn’t have any male family member who could have taken the father-figure role in my life and my mother wasn’t looking for a new husband. In fact, she never did find someone who could take my father’s place in her heart (and you wonder how I ended up writing romance, eh?).

Half way through elementary, I began to realize that the gifts we made for father’s day every year were unfair to those in the same situation as me. Not because they were gender specific or even promoted a bad habit (yep, we made ashtrays) but because they failed to acknowledge those women who have taken dual roles in their households.

The reverse happens on mother’s day, I know, but the reality is that there are way more women than men filling in both pairs of shoes in their homes.

Which brings me back to the email from this morning.

To most, it would appear very well crafted and joyful, but to me, it had an intrinsic flaw. It celebrated fathers and boasted a list of things we would not have learned without having fathers. Throw a curveball (in my case, kick a mean soccer ball), change a tire, fix things around the house, honor and ethical behavior, etc. All those things and many more, I learned from my mother.

Teaching your child life skills and how to have fun doesn’t come attached to gender. This doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your father or the things he’s taught you, or the many amazing moments you’ve had with him. Please do. Cherish every moment—on Father’s Day or any other day—you have with him because you never know if that will be the last one.

But most of all, for all fathers and mothers out there, don’t limit the memories you can have with your child to those traditional gender-specific roles. Bend the rules. Teach your daughter to bake a cake, but also to change a tire and fix an engine. Let her use you as a make-up sampler, too for fun. Teach your son to throw a ball, but also to cook and clean up after himself. To respect others independent of their life choices. Make your children rounded individuals so they can create the same memories with their own children, thus propagating the habit. And that’s the true gift of parenthood.



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ECSTASY BY THE SEA by Chris Almeida & Cecilia Aubrey – When it’s pointed out that a key point for a new marriage has been overlooked, Trevor Bauer plans the perfect honeymoon getaway down to the daintiest swatch of lace. His detail-obsessed bride won’t know what hit her when he sweeps her away for a weekend filled with pure ecstasy by the sea. . .

BURN ME by Éirinn Brennan - Emma Clark has made a decision that will impact the rest of her life. But a chance encounter with the handsome windsurfer Kevin Nash can change a woman’s mind about a lot of things. In the end, it’ll be up to you to determine her fate.

FINDING JOY by EmKay Connor - When Landon Wells is left standing at the altar with no bride and no explanation, there’s only one logical place to find her: Hideaway Bay. Can this desperate groom convince his runaway bride to reveal her secrets and give them another chance to say I do?

KISSING DRAKE by Jenna Dales – Paige Owens’ bookshop is ready for another summer tourist season on quaint, quiet Butterfly Island. But sometimes her naughty beach books leave Paige feeling a little…lonely. When a late storm blows in a sexy, by-the-numbers, venture capitalist Drake Dorsey, she figures a one-night mini vacation is all she needs, but Drake is counting on so much more…

MADRONA SUNSET by Jami Davenport - Welcome to Madrona Island, where the main entertainment on Friday nights is a high school football game, the pace is slow, and the residents wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Meet a wounded warrior suffering from paralyzing guilt and a woman pining for her dead husband–both damaged souls craving comfort for a moment or a lifetime.

THE GOOD ENOUGH HUSBAND by Sylvie Fox - Hannah Morrison Keesling hops into her SUV and drives away from the man she’d thought was good enough. When her dog gets sick on the way, she turns to local veterinarian Ben Cooper. Stranded with a sick dog on the black sands of California’s Lost Coast things quickly heat up.

TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE by Suzanne Rock – Is the shy, straight-laced Hannah open to a three-way relationship? Two handsome Irish exchange students will have to do everything they can to convince her that two men are better than one.

THE POSSE by Tawdra Kandle - Being a young widow was never in Jude Hawthorne’s plans. After her husband’s death, the last thing she’s looking for is another chance at love. But if her husband’s best friends, the Posse, have anything to say about it, love is just what she’s going to get.

HOW TO SAY GOODBYE by Amber Lin - Dane lives for the salty breeze and a sweet wave, because that’s all he has. He lives on the streets. Then he meets Amy—smart and accomplished, she’s everything he’s not. He wants to be the sort of man who deserves her, except that means facing down his past.

LAST CALL by Alannah Lynne - For the first time in years, Sunny Black puts herself first and takes a trip on the wild side with a customer whose raw sexuality is too strong to deny. The next morning, however, she learns that in addition to rocking her world, the stranger might destroy everything and everyone she’s worked so hard to protect.

MIAMI DREAMS by Layla Wilcox - Recent widow Deena Montgomery answers a model call for a new lingerie line, thinking she is leaving a life built on lies behind her. Photographer Ben “Hottie” Hoddi wants to help her get the job, but doing so might reveal a secret in his past, and Deena has made it very clear that her new life demands transparency.

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Beach settings. Irresistible Heroes. Delicious heat.

Gone but not for good

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Last week we came across a post by a fellow author that stroke a chord with both of us. She was talking about how, once she had published her books, her days were spent more in promotion and interaction on social media than writing. She also mentioned that she had less pleasure from writing than before publication.

When we started writing together, we wrote solely for the joy of writing and for pleasure. Creating stories on the fly was effortless and natural. We wrote Countermeasure and To Russia with Love in 3-4 months each and they are 110K and 140K, not serial-length books.

After publication, our output decreased drastically. We have a LOT more on our plates now. We also care a lot about our friends and readers. We worry that disappearing from social media for months can potentially hurt our still fragile relationship with new readers, yet being present is not doing us, our stories, or our readers and friends any good.

We know many people are tapping their feet, waiting anxiously for a few (if not many) of our already announced books to be released and we do want to deliver them sooner rather than later.  

Knowing more readers (and friends) are enjoying our books and wanting more of our stories is thrilling, but we won’t make that happen if we’re not writing as much as we can, all day, every day.

For that reason, we have made the decision to reduce our presence on social media to a minimum. Starting now, we will be frugal with the time spent online. The goal is to focus on the characters and stories and worry less about rankings, likes or views. Those numbers have lost their meaning.

We’re also taking a brand new step (and some major pressure) to force ourselves to tackle writing with the old vigor. We’ve placed Alternate Connection up for pre-order on iTunes, Kobo, ARe and Google Play. We set a date and we will make sure the book is finished, if not long before, at least by that date.

The above means we’ll be hiding in our writing caves for the new few months. With that said, we may pop in once in a while or post once or twice a day so the pages don’t slip into nothingness, but that should be all for a while.

We hope you’ll all appreciate the outcome. 



Our Street Team



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The world of intrigue and adventure in Countermeasure peaked my interest immediately. So many unexpected twists and turns kept me guessing for the entire book. The intensity of the romance between Cassandra and Trevor made it so I could not turn the pages fast enough. The evolution of Cassandra throughout the book was amazing as was Trevor's journey to let her in and move forward. I am waiting with anticipation to see where their next voyage takes them.

Heather Von Ohlen
Jan 19, 2012