Tag Archives: Happy New Year

2018 Enjoy the Journey

Do you ever just NOT want to engage with a New Year? You know what I mean. It’s a little bit like that feel of not wanting to crawl out from under the blankets on an icy winter morning. It’s a little bit like not wanting to make that first leap into the cold waters of a swimming pool. It’s a little bit like not wanting to mess up the pristine new snowfall with your footprints.


I’m never quite sure if that feeling comes from the stay-in-the-warm-bed comfortable I’ve grown with the old year or the OMG terror of jumping out of a plane and hoping the parachute will open that the new year brings. Sometimes it’s a bit like those dreams in which I find myself naked on stage before a huge audience.


There have been times when I really did try to prepare for the New Year. I reflected on my successes and mistakes in the year past and made a serious and detailed plan for attacking the daunting new beginning. There have been other times when I’ve just sat back and let it take me by surprise and kick me in the ass. Whether it’s the paralysis of analysis or the deer in the headlights, whether it’s the planning and the scheming into minute detail or the burying my head in the sand, I can always count on two things. First of all, the New Year WILL come no matter how I prepare for it or not. Secondly, it will under no circumstances be what I expected it to be.


This year we welcomed in the New Year at a local pub with lots of friends listening to some seriously good live music. It was a great way of celebrating the best of 2017 and welcoming in 2018 with music and laughter and friends. And it was a wonderful place to gain courage, and encouragement to face new beginnings. On this January 1st 2018, there’s plenty of anticipation along with a very healthy dose of fear and trepidation as I prepare for major changes in my writing
career and my life in general. You’ll be hearing more my changes and adventures as the year goes on. This morning, I’m still in the girding my loins mode, still in that quiet space between letting go and plunging in head first. I’ll linger there just a little longer in the peace and quiet of bird song filtering in from the garden and a lazy second cup of coffee with my husband. Tomorrow morning will be soon enough, and by then I will once again remember that life is a continuum.It’s always about the journey and not the destination. The best goal I may ever have in any New Year is to simply enjoy the journey as much as possible and hang on tight for the wild ride that is the one thing I can always count on.


Happy 2018 my dear friends! Enjoy the ride.



My 2014 Photo Album

P1030147Happy 2015 Everyone! 2014 has been a year busy enough and full enough to feel like three, and looking back makes me a little bit dizzy. I think a lot of writers live in the moment — especially when we’re in the middle of writing a story.  I find that I often forget all about what happened three days ago and am totally unmindful of what will happen three days in the future. Makes planning a bit of a challenge from time to time, but it does mean that I’m great at being totally tunnel-visioned.

This year, I thought I’d review the year in pictures rather than do quite so much navel gazing, and I’ve always been a sucker for photo albums. So grab a cuppa, sit back in the recliner and let me show you my 2014.

The year began with two major launches, both very different. The first was my novel, Fulfilling the Contract, which is book 2 in The Mount Series.

Fulfilling the ContractBook two of The Mount trilogy (Click here for Book One | Book Three)

Limo driver, NICK CHASE’s bad night gets worse when he picks up TANYA POVIC at a bar only to discover the explosive sex they share lands her in breach of her very strange contract. Blaming himself that Tanya will lose the large completion bonus earmarked for her mother’s surgery, Nick negotiates with her boss, the tough and mysterious ELSA CRANE, to allow him to fulfill Tanya’s contract and secure her bonus.

Elsa runs Mount Vegas, which offers voyeuristic pleasures for a price. Nick’s job, with Elsa and her quirky team, is to give clients something worth watching through the plate glass windows of Vegas’s luxury hotels and beyond. The learning curve is steep and kinky. As Nick and Elsa’s relationship sizzles and ignites more than hotel room rendezvouses are exposed. In this sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly things get positively dangerous as Rita Holly and her team are called in from London to lend a helping hand. Bets are being placed. Will Nick fulfil the contract? Will he and Elsa take the gamble? And will they find a way to win at the high stakes, double or nothing, game of hearts?

The second launch was my first ever attempt at a serial, Demon Interrupted, DI is a Lakeland Witches story, which began on the 2nd of February and finished on Halloween. I reran it over Christmas so people could read it all together. It was a very exciting way to write a story, and I found myself feeling quite bereft when I finished it. I’m hoping to do another series on my blog this year.

Demon Interrupted CoverBlurb:

What secrets does a man have that would cause him to chooses to live under a spell that magically erased his past? When that spell is broken Ferris Ryder must choose to remember all that he was, all that he has done and all that drove him to willingly forget. If he chooses not to remember, the consequences will be dire for himself and the Elemental Coven, who are now his family.

Is the mysterious Elaine, who both fears and desires Ferris, a ghost with a past all her own, or merely a figment of his fevered dreams as he struggles against time to remember the past he fears or destroy the very people for whom he chose to forget.

If you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire.


BB table

In March it was time for Eroticon 2014! An event I always look forward to, and one that always gives me a chance to get together with, if not all, at least most of the fabulous Brit Babes. That always results in scheming and planning something totally naughty. This year, I had the absolute pleasure of leading a panel discussion on Sex and Spirituality with my dear friend and fabulous writer, Victoria Blisse. The panel was well attended, and the ideas bounced around in the room about that fabulous connection between sex and spirituality were exciting and inspiring. On top of that it was just a wonderful chance to reconnect with old friends and make new.



In April, I made my usual pilgrimage to Oregon to visit my sister. We make it a point to do lots of road trips, lots IMG00627-20140409-1228of movie and popcorn sessions in her TV room, lots of long chats over coffee and lots of walks in the High Desert sunshine. This year for her birthday, we threw caution to the wind and drove the two and a half hours to Crater Lake National Park, even though we knew it would be buried under snow. With 12-foot snow-banks along either side of the road and the car park at the crater rim, we followed the snowy path to views that were totally stunning, lunched in the lodge, and enjoyed the cool early spring around this stunning lake. The trip was meant for a birthday pressie for my sister, but I felt like it was as much a gift for me as it was for her. A definite return-trip will be necessary, and possibly a story???


I got back from Oregon just in time to prepare for Smut by the Sea in Scarborough, which is another one of my favourite naughty events each year. I was very privileged to be asked to teach a workshop on finessing sex in fiction. As usual the workshops, the reading slam, the tombola and  just the opportunity to spend time with other writers and readers of erotica was a real treat.

If that wasn’t enough, my fabulous husband and I took a little detour on our way home from Scarborough into Dracula country with a very brief, but very rewarding visit up the rocky coast to Whitby It was little more than a tasty tease of gothic deliciousness, and definitely requires a return visit, but I was inspired nonetheless. On the way home, we drove through the North York Moors, a drive that took us only hour. The last time we crossed these moors, it was on foot, and it took us four days!


P1020094One of the highlights of 2014, for me, had to be winning the  ETO Best Erotic Author award for 2014! It was a privilege to be nominated along with amazing writers, Brit Babes, and dear friends, Kay Jaybee and Lucy Felthouse but to win was totally unexpected! At first it didn’t register. How could be my name being called? I sort of remember walking to the stage. After kissing my husband. Shell shocked. Hoping I wouldn’t trip over my own feet, wondering if I could remember how to speak. Me, speechless! Can you imagine such a thing? What made the whole evening even better still was that not only were three Brit Babes nominated for the award, but I got to celebrate the win with four Brit Babes, Victoria Blisse,  Kay Jaybee & Lexie Bay and Tabitha Rayne. There was much dancing and carousing, and I’m still stunned every time I look at the beautiful shiny award with my name on it.

ETO winner button



This year has seen a lot of travel, more than I realised, beginning with my trip to Oregon and thenScarborough, then in July, there was a wonderful walking holiday in the Lake District to research a new series I’m planning to set there, and mostly to get my feet back on the fells and reconnect with one of my very favourite places on the planet. Staying with our fabulous friends, Vron and Brian Spencer, gave me an opportunity to pick their brains for the new series. I was once again reminded why I find the place so incredibly inspiring. In fact, it is also the setting for my m/m novella, Landscapes from the exciting new Brit Boys:On Boys Book Bundle just now released.



10419527_609693305824649_2407916111421693460_nLandscapes Blurb:

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?


In September we made our first ever trip to New York City — my lovely husband to train for his 3rd degree black belt in Karate and me to write, play tourist and be inspired. I didn’t expect to fall in love, but I did! I totally adore New York City. I can honestly say it has joined my list of favourite cities, and I can’t wait to go back. Raymond got his 3rd degree, I got to explore, spend some quality time with Maxim Jakubowski and his lovely wife Delores, and I got the inspiration for my first seasonal novella ever, A Valentine For Christmas, which is now available in the Cariad collection, Love Under the Mistletoe



Cariad Christmas 2014 Collection

‘A Valentine for Christmas

All work and no play, bah humbugging CEO, Gerard Jasper’s, anonymous Christmas gift is actually a Valentine — Moira ‘R.M.’ Valentine, the mysterious CEO of the Valentine Corporation. Moira’s walk on the wild side has accidentally landed her naked and bound with red ribbon under Gerard’s tree – not good when their companies are negotiating the deal of a lifetime. When two lonely people with enough baggage to fill a 747 come together for Christmas, the fireworks rivals New Years at Times Square, but can they overcome their pasts to give each other the true gift — a merger of hearts?


In October I made another trip to Lyme Regis for my annual writers retreat and spent the time working on Grace Marshall’s latest novel, Interviewing Wade, which has been SO much fun to write. I’ve had requests from readers for Wade’s story ever since the first of The Executive Decisions novels came out, so it was very exciting to finally let Wade whisper his story in my ear. Interviewing Wade will be released in February 2015. Very much looking forward to that release. Here’s a little teaser for Interviewing Wade :

The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pheuma, Inc, But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives…

Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.


October was a busy month with the month-long Things That Go Hump in the Night event on my blog — a full month of fantastic guest authors celebrating paranormal erotica with me as I re-launched the Lakeland Witches trilogy with new titles and covers.


Things that go Hump in the Night 2

Lakeland Banner new10358733_753604251350423_1560284403319862756_n

It was also an opportunity for Raymond and me to head up to Wales for a fantastic weekend with Brit Babe, fab writer and good friend Lily Harlem and Mr. Harlem, in which the writerly among us schemed and planned and talked writing into the night.


I don’t get a lot of time to write shorter fiction anymore, but this year I wrote two short stories for very special editors, whom I love working with, Maxim Jakubowski and Rose Caraway.

My story, The Trespass: When a sudden summer rain causes an unexpected trespass, a reclusive sculptor, who can’t bear to be touched and a walker suffering from depression forge an intimate connection.
My story, The Trespass: When a sudden summer rain causes an unexpected trespass, a reclusive sculptor, who can’t bear to be touched and a walker suffering from depression forge an intimate connection.


Contains my story, Cherries in Season: A veg and fruit connoisseur has a real taste for cherries in season and the sexy green grocer who sells them.
Contains my story, Cherries in Season: A veg and fruit connoisseur has a real taste for cherries in season and the sexy green grocer who sells them.

In November, I headed off to Manchester for Smut Manchester, another opportunity to be with other naughty writers and readers, all thanks to the efforts of Victoria and Kev Blisse. This time I had little to do but one reading from To Rome with Lust and the rest of the time I got to enjoy the wonderful workshops offered, the great readings and just the chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Writers tend to live isolated lives, so it’s especially good when we get the chance to be together and talk craft.

prelim for SourceBooks Holly cover

As I mentioned above, I also released the third novel in The mount Series, To Rome with Lust, in early December, which I’m very excited about, and very pleased to see it doing so well and following in Holly’s footsteps, since it was also four years ago in October when  The Initiation of Ms Holly , the first book in the Mount Series, was launched.


We ended 2013 in Rome. Liking that tradition of going away on holiday at the end of the year, we ended 2014 with a much-needed holiday, in which Raymond whisked me off for Christmas in Dubrovnik. It was my first trip back to Croatia in a very long time, and it was fantastic to be back. The weather was sunny and warm and the hotel had a lovely view of the Adriatic. I’ve shared masses of photos on FaceBook. While we were there, we were also able to make trips into Montenegro P1030161and Bosnia Hercegovina. For more photos of all three places, follow the links.

And that’s the year in a nutshell. Funny how I didn’t realise just how much had happened until I reflected back on it. I’m stunned and amazed at all the good things that have filled my year, that fill my life, and I’m very, very happy that all of you have been a part of my life through the year. Thank you for reading, commenting, and visiting A Hopeful Romantic. You all are amazing!

Happy New Year! I wish you love and happiness and all things good in 2015!



Selective Memories and the Gift of New Beginnings

Written on Christmas Day 2014 in the Hotel Rixos Libritas, Dubrovnik, Croatia

I’m sitting on the terrace at the Hotel Rixos Libritas in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It’s the first time I’ve ever gone away for P1030161Christmas. It was Raymond’s suggestion, and an inspired one it was. I’ve not been back to Croatia since the war. Before that it was my home for four years. It’s where I met and married Raymond. A Louisiana Boy and an Oregon Girl had to go all the way to Croatia to meet and fall in love.

I can’t lie. Coming back is something I’ve put off for all these years, afraid of what I’d find, afraid of the change and haunted by those last memories as we left ahead of the tanks, as the place I loved fell apart before my eyes. I remember making one last phone call at the post office – no one had a phone at the time — to my former roommate, who was Bosnian. I was surprised we were able to connect at all. I told her we were leaving, asked if her family was safe. We’d been good friends. We didn’t know if we’d ever see each other again. The phone line went dead before we could say good-bye. Then Raymond and I packed two bags each and left everything else in the flat. One of the refinery drivers where Raymond had been working at the time drove us to Belgrade, which was the only airport still open. That night, while we slept safely in the Intercontinental Hotel, the national highway closed and the tanks rolled. Yugoslavia fell a
part, horrible things happened to people I loved, and I walked away.

I suppose I was a coward not to return earlier, but I never claimed to be otherwise. And even though Dubrovnik is a P1030298long way from the Bosnian boarder where Raymond and I were living after we married, I felt the knot in my stomach tighten as we sat down at the airport at Cilipi. Then we got into the taxi and the world righted itself as I spoke my rusty Croatian to the driver, and he understood, as the music playing on his radio was Croatian, as I saw signs in the language I’d loved and lived in for four years and I read them in whispers so that my tongue could feel the language again. The sea was a deep rich blue off the rocky Adriatic coast and our driver told us in Croatian that it was always blue when the temperature of the water dipped below fifteen degrees. He spoke and I understood, and spoke back awkwardly at first. Some of my words were missing and the grammar was rusty, but the rhythm, like a heartbeat was still there.

It’s my first time in Dubrovnik. I lived in Croatia four years and never visited because I thought I had all the time in the world. When I lived in Zagreb, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be any place else. And being back now, it’s not hard to remember why I felt that way, why I loved the place and the people so much.

P1030502It’s easy to look to the future in Dubrovnik. The city is vibrant and the people are friendly and energetic. Even after being under siege for nine months during the war, the place has been rebuilt and no one would question for a moment that it is the Pearl of the Adriatic. The food is that delicious blend of Croatian, Italian and wonderful seaside flavors. The café bars are full of locals and a fair amount of tourists even in the off-season.

But yesterday we took a trip to Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina, and looking to the future was much more difficult. The buildings are all recent, rapidly built, and in varying stages of completion. Most everything was destroyed during the war, and the remains of bombed-out buildings are everywhere. Mostar is now a city divided – Catholics on one side, Muslims on the other, and the bridge, the incredible stone bridge that stood for 500 years before it was destroyed in 1993 is once again rebuilt. But there’s no looking at it without being reminded that something so seemingly indestructible could be destroyed so quickly. As I watched the film of that destruction, I was reminded again just how
thin the veneer of civilisation really is, and how incredibly fragile all that makes us human, all that rises us above ourselves, all that makes us more than blood and bone really is.

P1030523As we explored the Old Town, on the left hand side of the city, the church bells began to peel. Not seconds later, on the right side, the call to prayer sounded from multiple minarets, and the two in my head became a cacophony of noise breaking the peaceful winter air, while all around us people went about their business trying to make a living in a place where unemployment is over 40%

The bridge is rebuilt, but something was destroyed that may never be rebuilt, and I guess that’s why I stayed away so long because I remember what it was like before the destruction. The stone sign on the bridge carved in English reads Don’t Forget 1993 and I can’t help wonder what should a people remember and what should be, if not forgotten, at least mourned, and moved beyond. How much suffering is caused from remembering too well, or from remembering selectively?

In the night, I woke to a neighbourhood dog howling in the darkness. The hairs on my arms stood at the sound that seemed so lonely and desolate. This morning, we woke to the church bells ringing in Christmas Day. Right now church P1030147
bells are ringing all over the city, and I’m looking out over the peaceful Adriatic to the islands and the mountains beyond. Coming here was a gift, and I have laughed and I have cried and I have found a place where I can begin to heal from wounds that seem so negligible in comparison to the wounds of those who have lived through the destruction and lost so much. And yet the four years I spent in the Former Yugoslavia have moved me more deeply and changed me more completely than any other experience in my life. And though I’ve been away for a long time, I’ve taken the place with me in my heart every day since. To return as we have in a time of celebration and reflection, to have the place I loved restored to me with all the wounds, the battle scars and the vibrant laughing memories is truly a gift of new beginnings.

In the time of new beginnings, I wish all of you good memories, healing of wounds and hope and love for the New Year.