Hey, all, I’m writing this on the 8th (my birthday, happy birthday to meeeee) because when you are reading it, I will be on a plane coming home from Ireland.  My husband and I are leaving in a few hours, and I suddenly remembered I had to do this blog, eek!

So no wonderful recipe today, just a quick hello and a note that I have a Blaze out this month, Nothing to Hide which was totally fun to write because I invented an attic full of trunks containing grandmother and great-grandmother’s clothing (which would be the 20s and 40s, two of the best fashion generations in my opinion).  The heroine has a blast trying on clothes and fun underwear and sexy costumes, and the hero has even more fun taking them off her.  I set the book in the finger lakes district in New York state.  Beautiful country!

And so off I go, to drink Guinness and eat oysters and lamb and generally have a grand time.  I did a really smart thing marrying a man with hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles.

Enjoy April!  I’ll have a recipe back up for you in May.

Isabel

www.IsabelSharpe.com

 

Comments 1 Comment »

Sunny April at last! This month’s winners of a full set of April 2014 Blaze books are:

  • bn100
  • Tammy Yenalavitch
  • Joye

Thanks to everyone who entered the draw! Look for Kathleen’s post in early May for your next chance to win!

As I mentioned last month, we’re getting ready to move. We’ve outgrown our pretty but tiny apartment and we’re ready for more space and better amenities. It’ll be nice when family and friends visit to be able to offer them their own room, not my living room! And you wouldn’t believe how excited I am about the new dishwasher, or the state-of-the-art gym.

But of course, moving means packing. Nobody’s favourite task! Based on a friend’s recommendation, we’re using sturdy, environmentally friendly Frogboxes instead of cardboard (no worrying about taping them shut, they have great handles for easy lifting, and it’s so nice that the company drops them off and picks them up—no buying or scrounging for boxes and then trying to give them away when you’re done!). This whole move thing suddenly became real this week when the boxes arrived…

CAM01120

We’re making good progress, though! Part of the process is purging. We’ve donated clothes and given away DVDs, but the hardest part has been the books. It’s probably not a surprise that I love books, and so does Graham. Neither of us is very good about parting with them once we’ve read them (and we both hoard ones we think we’ll probably get around to reading at some point). No time like the present to be brutally honest with ourselves, though: do we really need that copy of Herodotus, or do we just like it on our shelves? Just because that Chabon’s signed, do we want to keep it, or pass it along to someone else who will enjoy it?

But then, when you have a hundred books (or more?!) to give away, what do you do with them? Sometimes we give books to Graham’s parents, who are involved in their small community’s library. But their inventory is full up for now. Sometimes we donate to the Toronto Public Library, or to a friend’s annual church rummage sale. This time around, we decided to put them out in our lobby, for other residents to help themselves to. We’ve taken them down an armful at a time, and you wouldn’t believe how quickly they disappear!

Not a bad day's work...

Not a bad day’s work…

What’s kind of cool is that some of the ones that I know people have taken have then reappeared a week or two later. And books that were never ours are starting to show up on the fireplace mantle. It looks like we’ve inadvertently started an unofficial Little Free Library! I can only hope that this keeps up even after we move. What a great way for neighbours to share a love of reading!

Do you hoard books, or do you pass them along to a new reader? Do you have favourite places to donate books?

Comments 2 Comments »

I’m busily writing my next Blaze, which will be out in early 2015, and I’m having such a good time I couldn’t resist sharing a little with you guys.

Packing the suitcaseIf you read Still So Hot!, you may remember Haven, the image consultant who helped SSH!’s heroine, Elisa, get the Caribbean gig. Here’s Haven in SSH!:

Haven stood beside a tall white planter overflowing with green and pink foliage, matched in intensity only by her hot-pink, patent-leather wheeled carry-on. The petite PR genius was balanced precariously on high heeled sandals on the lobby tile, resplendent in skinny jeans, a tight black top and an unholy amount of makeup, her dark hair long and glossy.

Haven didn’t actually exist in the first draft of SSH! She showed up while I was revising the book, but as soon as she stepped onto the page, I knew I hadn’t seen the last of her. I’d never had a secondary character who was so vivid to me so quickly from her shiny pink suitcase to some of the things she said to Elisa:

Haven tilted her head. ”He isn’t looking at your ass like an old friend. Well, let me clarify that. He’s looking at your ass like it’s an old friend. Just not like you’re an old friend.”

Like many writers, I am a bit of a mystic about characters. Sometimes they show up and start making demands—like Haven, who could use serious help from SSH!’s dating coach heroine. Once Haven let me know that her love life was in shabby shape, I started to see the outlines of her story. The highly-polished PR genius will meet her match with Mark Webster, a scruffy, gruff ex-boy-band member in desperate need of image rehab before his upcoming reunion tour. I can’t tell you too much now—I’ll post more as we get closer!—but here’s a tiny bit from Haven’s POV when she meets Mark:

She didn’t bother to wait the usual beat to see if he’d pull out her chair for her—she knew that wasn’t going to happen. She sat, and he dropped into his seat with a masculine nonchalance that tugged on her breath. He shrugged the mangled bomber jacket off his shoulders and let it drop down the back of his chair. He wore a fitted black t-shirt that revealed sculpted biceps and well-defined pecs. He’d apparently been working out, between bouts of hiding out in dingy bars and getting himself photographed staggering drunk. She could do a lot with a body like that.

In the purely professional sense, that was.

I’ll look forward to sharing more with you later this year, and to having you meet these two characters I’ve come to love so much!

Comments No Comments »

voodo  Last weekend, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston to see the Age of Impressionism exhibit.  Naturally, I had to stop by the museum gift shop because they always have a coffee table book featuring the paintings in the exhibit, along with the most elegant, er, stuff imprinted with some of the pictures.  You know, mugs, ties, umbrellas, magnets, pens, note cards, trays, clocks, prints, jewelry . . . which would normally look like junk but doesn’t because it’s in a museum gift shop.  But look what I found!  This!  In a museum gift shop!  It’s a pad of Voodoo paper–for “The Voodoo That You Do”– complete with instructions.  I was struck by the enormous possibilities and wondered if I should buy two pads.

Just look at it.  (You can click on the picture to make it bigger.)  You draw either white or black pins, but I think it would be more fun to use real ones and a bulletin board.  voodo2The instructions say to personalize the features or even paste a photo of the person’s face, and if you want to draw a lot of pins, have at it.  I was all set to get started until I read the warning:  If you’re casting a hex, beware of karmic backlash, which will come back to you threefold.  Oh.  I knew there had to be a catch.  Well, what about the good stuff?  Does that come back threefold, too?  Wouldn’t that be great?  Except I  have a feeling there’s another catch, so I’ve done nothing.

What about you?  Would you voodoo?

Comments 5 Comments »

By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

It’s spring! Sort of. Ok, we’re not exactly skipping through the tulips yet in the frozen north, but the warm weather is coming, I just know it. And this season is when a young woman’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of…hot things. Yes, we can’t wait to get out in our gardens, to get into sundresses and strappy sandals, to start ogling the neighbor’s pool boy who works with his shirt off as long as there’s sunshine, even when it’s barely over 50 degrees out. I have no problems with this!! No, you can’t grab the pool boy. But you can grab the latest Blaze books! Let’s check out this month’s offerings.Apr 791 Tawny

What’s hotter than a super-gorgeous, tall, broad-shouldered, very intelligent man? One who’s also a sexy Navy SEAL! In Tawny Weber’s A SEAL’S KISS, part of our Uniformly Hot! miniseries, Petty Officer Aiden Masters is home on leave, and shocked to find that he is “engaged” to Sage Taylor, the tempting daughter of Aiden’s mentor. Sage’s father is sick and Sage knows nothing would perk up his spirits more than to see his flighty daughter has settled down with his protégée. The trouble is, Aiden and Sage are not right for each other. Not at all. Nope. They are oil and water. Yet, as they are brought together by their fake impending nuptials, they discover each other (oh, boy, do they) and how they just almost burst into flames! when they’re together. You will love this emotional story, which, no surprise from Tawny Weber, is delightfully, sinfully sensual!Apr 792 Isabel

Here’s one from our The Wrong Bed series, a reader favorite. NOTHING TO HIDE by Isabel Sharpe is a very, very fun read. Allie McDonald agrees to go with her friend Eric to his family’s “summer home” (wealthy family manor!) because he’s offered her first look at some vintage clothes that Allie, a designer, is jonesing for. Turns out she’s soon to be jonesing over Eric’s brother Jonas Meyer. Allie finds her new clothing acquisitions, including a lot of amazing lingerie, to be quite…inspiring. And Jonas quite agrees. Add some sibling rivalry and some other forces pulling at Allie and Jonas—plus a beautiful summer setting—and you’ve got a romance that will leave you totally satisfied.Apr 793 Nancy

BREAKAWAY by Nancy Warren is the second book in the trilogy about three men who swore years ago to be the Last Bachelor Standing. Nancy writes great take-charge heroes, and Max Varo is no exception. He’s the kind of man who goes after anything he wants. And he’s totally hot, with bedroom eyes and really long eyelashes. Sigh. (Eyelashes and rock-hard muscles. Yeesssss! See cover. Ahem.) He’s a fantastically successful businessman, and he has his eye on acquiring Polar Air, a small Alaskan airline. Claire Lundstrom is no pushover, which Max immediately recognizes. But he has no idea what a force of nature she is—in the bedroom and out! (Especially on the ice.) I know you’ll enjoy this one!Apr 794 Kate

Each month I like to point out some details about our covers, because I think they look great. As you may have figured out, our art strategy is centered around one word: ABTASTIC. And so I give you…THE MIGHTY QUINNS: MALCOLM by the wonderful Kate Hoffmann. Malcolm is an adventurer, the kind of man who’s hard to pin down. But Amy Engalls knows she must grab hold of Malcolm to get the story of his famous father, who was lost on Everest. She needs this story, but Mal isn’t going to give it to her without taking her along on a totally different kind of adventure she’ll never forget! They’re climbing mountains, but in a “River Deep, Mountain High” kind of way. (Tina Turner reference. Awesome song.) If you love the Quinns, you’ll love this set of New Zealand heroes!

I hope you’ll pick up all four of these fantastic books from Blaze this month. Tell me what you like about our covers and I’ll enter you in a draw to win one of three sets of the April Blazes. And I hope wherever you live, your thoughts are turning to spring!

 

Comments 13 Comments »

The first part of Wild Weekend, my May 2014 Harlequin Blaze, is set in Las Vegas. Christine goes there for a short trip to get out of her comfort zone. She does things she wouldn’t normally do like dress to attract attention, spend her hard-earned money, and have a one-night stand with a gorgeous stranger. Wild Weekend

There are a couple of reasons why I chose to set part of the book in Sin City. First, there is so much to do! I went there a couple of years ago and I didn’t have nearly enough time to do everything. I didn’t even gamble (mainly because I am horrible at playing any card game!)

The other reason I set it in Vegas is because of the tourists. I noticed during my stay is that the visitors are ready to get out of their comfort zone. They will try new things, take risks and even have a few regrets. That is the perfect setting for my heroine, who needs to live it up. She is a little hesitant to try some things, but by the end of her weekend, she wants to do anything and everything.

What is one thing you would do if you visited Las Vegas? Leave your answer in the comment section before March 30, midnight Pacific Time. One commenter will win a $10 USD Amazon e-mail gift card. Good luck!

*UPDATE: Congratulations to Ada. Her name was randomly chosen to receive the Amazon gift card. Thanks to everyone for participating.**

Comments 26 Comments »

I’m so excited about A SEAL’s Kiss release. This story is one of my favorites for a few reasons, one being that the heroine was so fun to write. She’s been mistakenly dubbed a flake by everyone, including herself. But while Sage might not have ‘found her bliss’ as she terms her search for that something in live that will make her feel satisfied, she definitely knows what she wants in other areas of her life.  Here’s a peek at one:

“I promise, any sex I have will be within the accepted confines of our engagement,” she swore, one hand in the air.

“That’d be Rule Four,” he said quickly.  “No sex.”     “I just said I wasn’t going to cheat on you.  Even if the cheating was really fake.”

“I mean no sex between us.”

A SEALs Kiss     Sage was sure her jaw hit her chest so hard it bounced back.

“I beg your pardon?”  He was kidding, wasn’t he?

Expect he didn’t look like he was kidding.  He had that serious, man-in-charge, military face on again.

“Look, as tempting as it might be to get carried away by the pretense, we aren’t actually engaged.  So no sex.”  He said it so adamantly she had to wonder which one of them he was bossing around.  “And no situations that might lead to sex.  No scenarios that might give each other an idea to create a situation that might lead to sex.”

That’s it.  She’d had enough.

He was only doing this for her father.

She got that.

He didn’t see her as marriage material, because wanting something didn’t mean you should have it.  Whatever that meant.

Fine.

But if he thought he got to call the shots when it came to her and sex, he was sadly out of his mind.

Because Sage Taylor had a policy against letting any man tell her how, where or when she’d enjoy sexual pleasures.

Aiden had just offered up a tidy lesson on the merits of mission planning and strategy.

Now it was his turn to learn a thing or two.

Call it her way of saying thank you.

Not sure what she was going to do, only knowing she was going to make damned sure they both enjoyed it, Sage slowly lowered her feet to the floor.

The move sent her skirt floating, sliding along her bare limbs like liquid.  Aiden’s hazel eyes followed the fabric, settling for a long second on her bare toes before he yanked his gaze back to meet hers.

Sage smiled.

A slow, seductive smile.

Then in a sinuous move she’d learned from the belly dancers in Persia, she got to her feet, her fingers skimming her hips, up her waist before she teased them along the sides of her breasts and up to her throat.

Wetting her lips, she gave a deep sigh.  Aiden’s gaze dropped to her breasts and his own lips tightened.  If the fit of his jeans were anything to go by, something else was getting tight, too.  He didn’t look too happy about that.  But Sage’s goal was horny, not happy.

She stepped closer.

From the wild look in his eyes, she figured it was a credit to his SEAL training that he didn’t step back. Because he clearly didn’t want her body this tight against his.  Or, he didn’t want to want her this close.

“You go ahead and set those rules,” she told him quietly, tapping one finger against his chest, then against his chin.

A SEAL's Surrender  “You saying you won’t follow them?”

“Rules one through three?  I’m one-hundred percent committed.”

He closed his eyes for just a second, then gave her an arch look.

“And rule four?”

“Babe, enforcing that one is all on you.”  She gave one last tap, this one on the tempting fullness of his lower lip. Then, for good measure, she leaned close and brushed her own lips over that same spot before giving him a wide smile.  “Good luck with that.”

You can get A SEAL’s Kiss now in print, or on Tuesday in digital! I hope you’ll check it out :-) 

amazon-printbn-printharlquinibooks

And in the meantime, A SEAL’s Surrender is currently free!!!

 

Comments 2 Comments »

For years now, I’ve been collecting quotes that touched me in some way, quotes that changed the way I thought about something, or made me say, YEAH, I believe that, I feel it to be true, deeply.Mark Twain
Here are some of my favorite. See what you think.

I believe as I did as a child, that life has meaning, direction and value; that no suffering is lost; that each drop of blood and every tear counts; and that the secret of the world is to be found in St. John’s “Deus Caritas est” – “God is love.”
–Francois Mauriac

“We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men” — Edward R. Murrow
Rebecca West
“It takes so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover…” — Morris L. West, Shoes of the Fisherman

Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.
Mahatma Gandhi

Ghandi

“We have certain work to do for our bread, and that is to be done strenuously; other work to do for our delight, and that is to be done heartily: neither is to be done by halves and shifts, but with a will; and what is not worth this effort is not to be done at all.”
— John Ruskin

It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion.” – Rebecca West

I will experience everything in life, so that on the final journey to my death, the nights will not be haunted by regret. – D H Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“Dreams dwell in the hidden places of the soul.” Unknown

“Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.” –Mark Twain

“Revision is like wrestling with a demon, for almost anyone can write; but only writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability alone that turns the amateur into a professional.”
– William Knott

“It was a glance filled with a smouldering tenderness in which the memory of the night could be read by those with eyes to see.”
Diane and Henri—THE COURTESAN

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?

Comments 7 Comments »

Command Control, my second installment in the Uniformly Hot! Blaze miniseries releases in August 2014. Closely tied to my debut, Command Performance, this novel also features one of the U.S. Army Rangers who rode into battle in Afghanistan on a horse.  I can’t wait to share this story with readers. It was so much fun to write and I’ve enjoyed every step of the publishing process. The most recent milestone? Command Control is now available for preorder and the talented team at HQ Blaze posted the back cover copy!

About Command Control:

A good soldier follows orders!

U.S. Army Ranger Logan Reed’s Vermont hometown has turned into hell. Logan is now known as either the hot-’n’-available widower or the town hero. And with the memory of his last mission still raw, the last thing he wants is to be called a hero. What he does want is the bold, redheaded stranger who makes his libido stand at attention.

Sadie Bannerman is in town to help her pregnant twin…and to lie low until the world learns she’s the author of the hottest new erotica novel! Thanks to her explosive chemistry with Logan, she’s getting plenty of naughty inspiration for her next book. Because this supersexy soldier knows exactly how to follow her every command….

So what do you all think? Sound like an enticing follow-up to Command Performance?

If you’d like to preorder your copy, here are the links:)

Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.to/1fSb6Be
Amazon (Print): http://amzn.to/1qtnACD
B&N (Nook): http://bit.ly/1ixtZeM
BAM (ebook): http://bit.ly/1cuCOTM

 

Comments 1 Comment »

Kathleen mentioned she’s a little tired of winter. I don’t blame her. A very good friend and critique partner lives in Boston and she’s about had enough of the cold weather too. I’m fortunate about nine months out of the year seeing as I live outside Atlanta, Georgia. Spring is long. Fall isn’t long enough. Winter’s a very brief respite from mosquitoes. Don’t ask me how I feel about the heat at the end of July, though. It’s then that I’m most likely to be fantasizing about ice fishing and fierce winter storms, willing to trade the other nine months just to gain an ounce of respite from the 3 H’s: heat, humidity and heat index. But that’s still far enough away I’m not fretting about it (too much). Instead, I’ve been spending as much time outside as I can, watching as my dormant garden comes to life.

IMG_0755I was an avid gardener for years. By “avid,” I really mean “obsessed.” Weeds trembled when I stepped outside with my gardening gloves and weed pick. They knew the end was nigh. Why fight the inevitable, right? I had a wild three-season garden full of a variety of plants. I chose bulbs and hardy perennials that not only came back but also multiplied. Oh, how they multiplied! (Anyone need some Asiatic lilies or black-eyed Susan?) Many of these cherished plants have survived despite the fact I had to give up most gardening for personal reasons. I miss it. Good grief, I miss it. Those hours spent in my garden were cathartic in the best sense. I would always find my thoughts sorted out by the time I was done pruning, picking, transplanting and weeding. During my time outdoors, if I was simply going through the motions, I would start telling myself stories. The stories always involved romance (surprise!). Plants could play a huge role. Or the beach. Or the mountains. Or foreign locals. I would simply let my mind go and tell whatever story came to the forefront of my mind.

IMG_0746Once I had to give up gardening, I forgot how much I enjoyed storytelling. It took me several years to get back to the point I could set my imagination free. But when I did? Whoa, Nelly. All those years of creative neglect sort of…well…they exploded. I’m now in a position where I cultivate imagination instead of flowers, though I do love the handsome rewards of a garden once well tended but, equally, I do love a story well told. I’ve learned the mad creativity once satisfied (in general) by gardening is now happiest when it is churning out words and worlds, heroes I can love and heroines I can admire. I find that, after a good day of writing, the same cathartic sense of accomplishment sneaks in and I’m simply happy.

These pictures are from my emerging garden. I hope you find yourself inspired by them.

What do you do to feed your creativity? Garden? Paint? Write? Read? Cook or bake? If it’s the latter, feel free to use my as a guinea pig whenever you’d like.  :angel:

Comments 2 Comments »

Cover Art Copyright @by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. BLAZE, HARLEQUIN and the JOEY design are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used with permission.