Saturday, November 27, 2010


Here's hoping everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday.

Now that it's (sort of!) back to business as usual, I have a wonderful cover and excerpt from author Kate Hofman's new e-book release, Her Italian Prince.  If you'd like to enter a contest for a free PDF copy of Kate's book, please leave your email addy in the comments!  And now without further ado I'll let Kate and model Bill Freda speak for themselves as they do so well.


Prince Gianfranco di San Benedetto is advised that he is the sole heir of his late Uncle, who was the ruling prince—provided that he marries within three months of the Will being read, and remains married for at least a year. 
Reluctantly, Prince Gianfranco decides to do as his late Uncle wishes, and sets about finding a suitable candidate for the one-year marriage.

The excerpt begins here:

          Gianfranco was glad he had accepted the invitation of his friend, Tom Fredericks, the owner of the St.George Art Gallery.  The afternoon preview for an exhibition of Adrian Elliott’s paintings was now in full swing.  Gianfranco admired the painter, and it was a relief being among people where an Italian princely title didn’t matter.  He sighed.  It was also a relief having escaped unscathed from his Aunt Flavia’s well-meant, determined attempts to marry him off to a woman she thought suitable.  Not in a zillion years would he tie himself to a vain, promiscuous, malicious clothes horse like Luciana Scotto.  Strange that his aunt did not seem to realize what Luciana was.  Gianfranco shrugged imperceptibly.  Flavia had led a sheltered, pampered existence, protected from life’s rougher edges by her beloved Nìccolo.  I should tell her that I don’t want her to move from the Palazzo.  It would be too much of a wrench for her, and I like my own house far better. 
          A man’s whiny tenor sounded behind him.  “Tell me why you admire Adrian Elliott?  His paintings seem so simple, he probably knocks them off in half an hour.  Yet, by his prices, anyone would think he spent days, weeks, on them.”
          A soft, melodious woman’s voice said, “It is because Adrian is an accomplished artist that he can make very complex work seem easy.”  When the man snorted, the woman’s voice went on, “The same difference as there is between the ballet and a circus performance.  The dancers make their very difficult work seem effortless—and in a circus, there’s a drum roll, the performer shows an agonized face, he trembles with the effort of doing this very difficult thing, and people are deceived.”
          The man’s voice, now angry, challenged, “Are you saying that I can’t tell an artistic performance from a circus trick?”
The woman’s voice held a smile.  “Only if you think Adrian’s work easy.”  Intrigued, Gianfranco turned and gazed straight into a pair of intelligent silver-grey eyes, set in a beautiful face, surrounded by luxuriant coppery blonde curls. 
Realizing he needed to speak instantly, or lose the contact, he said, “Forgive me for speaking to you, but your remarks reflect exactly what Picasso once said, when someone asked him how long it had taken him to paint a certain, smallish painting.  He said, “Three hours, and forty-five years.”
          Smiling, the woman lifted her long, dark lashes to Gianfranco, her eyes sparkling silver.  “How delightful—and how true.”  The owner of the whining tenor scuttled away, leaving the terrain to the winner.
          They were interrupted by a handsome, dark blond man, carrying a tray of champagne flutes, who said, “These remarks deserve champagne.”  Turning to Gianfranco, he said, “Relax, Tom made sure to pour only Krug this afternoon—just for you.”
          “Thanks, Jeff,” said Gianfranco easily.  Turning to the woman, he said, “Do you know Jeff Harcourt…?”
          Jeff threw Gianfranco an admiring look.  “That’s the smoothest way I’ve ever seen a man get himself introduced to a beautiful woman.”  He turned to the woman. “Suzanne, let me introduce Prince Gianfranco di San Benedetto.  Gianfranco, this lady is Suzanne de Beauvoir.”
          “Your Highness,” Suzanne said, with a small, elegant curtsy.
          Gianfranco frowned.  “Oh, please don’t…”  The frown turning into a smile, he went on, “Ms. de Beauvoir—French?”
          “Yes, I am, by ancestry.  I’m sorry if my curtsy displeased you—it was instinctive.”  She glanced at him, seemingly confused.
          Gianfranco shrugged one strong, well-shaped shoulder that owed nothing to the superb Italian tailoring of his clothing.  “The title is not that of a ruling prince.  We’re just an old family that has the title—we’re Serene, not Royal.  Our lands are merely vineyards in Toscana—I mean, Tuscany.”          
Jeff interrupted, “Huge vineyards in Tuscany—the size of a small country.”
          Gianfranco shrugged.  “You exaggerate.”  Jeff grinned, shaking his head.
Gianfranco glanced around.  “I’m glad to say the title doesn’t count for anything, here.  Which is probably why I like living here.”
          “You live in the United States, Prince?”
          “Please call me Gianfranco, and yes, I not only live in the United States, I live right here in Ocean Breeze.” 
          “That is a bit unusual, I agree.  And please call me Suzanne.”
          Contrary to his usual habit of telling people nothing of his private life, he found himself explaining, “My mother was then living with me, and the wintry chill of Manhattan and Long Island did not agree with her.  Her doctors said that she’d do better in a climate that more closely resembled Italy, and I decided that this part of Florida came close to the weather we have in Toscana—Tuscany.”  He paused.  “Even so, my mother passed away after a couple of years…”  His voice trailed off.
          “I’m sorry for your loss,” Suzanne said formally.  She thought for a moment.  “Was your mother a widow?  Then perhaps she did not want to live on without her husband.”  Gianfranco lifted a slim, black brow.  His parents had entered into a dynastic marriage without anyone caring whether they loved each other.  They had always had separate private suites.  His mother had devoted her time to him—her only child—and to charities.  His father had had a string of discreet mistresses, and died of a stroke in the arms of his latest and youngest one.
Calmly, he said, “You might have something there.” 
A woman claimed her attention.  He half-listened to, “Suzanne, I heard you’ve got a new car,” and Suzanne’s reply, “Yes, a yellow Saturn.  I love it.”  The other voice went on about mileage, but Gianfranco no longer paid attention.  An idea had come to him.
He quickly turned to his head of security, doubling today as his bodyguard.  “Burt, see to it that the men spirit away that small yellow Saturn.”  Burt Hickman nodded without a word, hurrying out of the art gallery, to speak to his men.  When Gianfranco glanced out, ten minutes later, the Saturn had disappeared.  With a satisfied nod, he went in search of Suzanne again.
Am I seriously considering her for this mockery of a marriage my uncle has wished on me?  He was forced to answer, yes.  Heartily sick of impoverished European nobility stalking him for the riches of the pre-nuptial agreement—once the marriage was over and a divorce obtained—he had fled Europe in the hope of finding a more appealing choice of women here.  He smiled.  On his very first try, he had.  True, she was of French parentage, but she was born here, that was obvious.  No attempt at making herself more interesting by using a French accent.  Ah, no.  She seemed  comfortable in her own skin.  Beautiful, well-mannered and totally at ease in a social situation.  All the same, he’d have to be careful how he handled this.  Creating circumstances that would earn him her gratitude was just the beginning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today it's my distinct privilege to introduce British author/actor/playwright Bill Haworth.

Bill's varied life experiences reflect very well in his general fiction short stories and books.  Retired from the Army, Bill has also served in offshore industry in the UK (North Sea), Canada, the Arctic and the Middle East.

Most recently, DCL Publications released Bill's collection, "Stonehenge and Other Short Stories."  My personal favorite is "Ice Palace," a fascinating story based on a little-known event in Czarist Russia.

For excerpts and BUY LINKS, go to:

And don't miss Bill's video trailer:

Monday, November 15, 2010


Join four of DCL’s authors in this multi-faceted ode to Christmas, the Season of Love:
Mistletoe Fangs by Susan Blexrud:
Dr. Lauren Marsh, a pregnant vampire, seeks therapy to overcome a recent trauma, but is her creepy doctor interested in more than her well-being?  Will evil intercede, dashing the promise of a Christmas baby?
Lauren parked in front.  There were no other cars on the quiet street.  As she approached the house, careful of the irregular sidewalk buckled from the roots of hundred-year-old trees, a shiver of foreboding ran up her spine.  The house looked like a grande dame in partial ruin, clutching the remnants of her former glory.  Lanterns on either side of the front door revealed peeling white paint and massive columns reminiscent of Tara after the Civil War, while an audio background of creaking planks strained under Lauren’s feet.  A swing swayed eerily on the expansive front porch. 
Before she reached for the gargoyle knocker, the door opened with a pop, like it had been sealed shut.  She peered into the musky foyer.  A deep voice issued from the darkness, “Good evening.  Please come in.”  Lauren inched across the threshold.  She didn’t need to close the door behind her.  It creaked shut on its own. 
A large, looming figure stepped out of the shadows.  “Light?”  The figure walked to a table in the foyer, struck a match and lit three candles in a candelabra.  “There.  That is better.”
Lauren suppressed a gasp as the figure turned to her.  There stood a reasonable facsimile of Rasputin.  He flashed a dazzling smile, and the dentist in Lauren took over.  She was a professional.  She could handle this.
“So nice to meet you.”  She held out her hand.
“And you,” he said, caressing her hand with long, cold fingers.  “Would you like me to turn up the heat?  It is a touch chilly this evening.”
“No, I’ve got a built-in oven here.”  Lauren rubbed her pregnant belly. 
“I am Erasmus Gephart,” the man said, eyeing her round tummy, “though I am sure you surmised that already.”  His incisor glistened in the candlelight as he smiled.
She’d hoped he’d been the butler.  Best not put too much stock in first impressions. “You come highly recommended.”
He dismissed her compliment with a wave of his hand.  “My credentials are impressive, but what is more important is whether I can assist you.”  For the first time, he gazed into her eyes with a penetrating stare.  No doubt the same hypnotic gaze Rasputin used on Queen Alexandra.
Dr. Gephart curled his index finger in a hokey “come hither” gesture, and Lauren followed him through an arched doorway hung with mistletoe into a dimly-lit Victorian parlor. 
“I see you’ve decorated for Christmas.”  Lauren nodded to the mistletoe.
“That has been up for years,” Dr. Gephart said.  “I have not yet put it to use.”
Lauren shivered at the thought of Dr. Gephart’s lips, which would surely be ice cold.  She took in his eclectic decor, replete with red velvet upholstery on the ornately carved furniture and an assortment of Cuckoo clocks on the walls.  He indicated a small loveseat for Lauren with a footstool at its base.  She settled in, propping up her high-top pink sneakers. 
Sitting in a throne-like chair across from her, Lauren thought that Dr. Gephart had a freakish sort of magnetism.  Maybe it was his long black hair, streaked with silver, or the intensity of his dark blue eyes.   She could understand how an unsuspecting human female could be seduced by him.

The Office Christmas Party by Bill Haworth:
Office workers are obliged to attend a celebration of the boss’s promotion on Christmas Eve.  When they are trapped inside by a sudden weather change, problems flare up and the control freak boss is put in his place by an old cleaning lady.  But is she all she seems?
As drunk as they were, the crowd fully comprehended their new manager’s veiled threat that an early departure from the party would be looked upon most unfavourably.  So, either due to gutlessness, ambition or both, the party flowed merrily on.
The old cleaning lady tugged on Perkins’ sleeve.
“Yes, yes, we’ve already said thanks for suggesting the shops nearby.”
“Then would you say you owe me a favour?” she asked.
 “I knew it.  She wants a bonus!”
“No I don’t.  I just want a favour.”
“Oh dear,” he groaned. “I suppose so.  What is it? You want a drink?”
“No thank you.”
“Then what?” he asked impatiently.
“The music is wrong.  Do you think we could have some seasonal music?”
“It’s a party, you old trout!  We’re celebrating!”
“Celebrating what exactly?”
“My promotion of course!” he snapped, then to the gathering asked, “Where do we get these people?”
Calmly the old girl told him, “It’s just that it’s Christmas Eve and you ought to be celebrating that!  That’s more important than any promotion!”
“Well, of all the nerve!”
“Ha - ha! She’s got you there F.P!” shouted Baxter.
Felling miffed but wishing to appear magnanimous he acceded to her request.
 “Of course, granny, you’re quite right!” he said sporting a quite insincere smile for her.  Calling out to an underling across the room he shouted, “Hey Sammy! The old girl wants a hymn.  See what you can do, eh?”
Sammy was always ready for a laugh and so waved and shouted back, “She wants a him?” then pointing to two men said, “Well how about him and him?”
The crowd jeered at this coarse remark as Sammy dutifully twiddled the knobs of the CD/radio eventually tuning into a choir singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’
The fact that the rock music had lost out to the hymns made little difference to the party crowd, who took scant notice anyway.
The irony was not lost on Mattie.  Look at them, she thought, they sure aremerry’ alright. Any merrier they would collapse!  And ‘gentlemen’! Ha! Give me a break! There isn’t one here would wouldn’t sell his own mother if it meant getting on in the company!
The old lady was most appreciative of the hymn music and happily continued titivating around the conference room with duster and broom.

A Special Christmas Gift by Kate Hofman:
Glenda is resigned to never seeing her lover, Alexandros, again—until he knocks at her door, pleading for another chance…
He gazed at Glenda for some time.  At last he asked, “Did you really try to get in touch with me?”  Glenda nodded, opening her mouth to explain. 
          They were interrupted.   A small voice said, “Mommy?”  Glenda flew up from her seat.  “I must go to Jason,” she whispered, and was gone.  Alexandros found it hard to sort out his feelings.  There was no doubt about his love for Glenda, but she had a child.  She isnt married, the name on her mailbox said St. George.  Was there a lover, who left her when he discovered she was pregnant?    Deeply distressed, he decided to wait and see.
          His distress ended quickly.  He heard Glenda’s soft voice talking lovingly, then a child’s treble voice saying something.  Glenda, holding her son by the hand, walked over to Alex, smiling.  Letting go of her son’s hand, she sat down again in her corner of the sofa, and watched Alex and her little boy.  In spite of his tan, Alex’s face became deathly pale.  Thee mou, this is what I looked like when I was his age. 
Jason gazed at Alex for a while, then he asked, “Who you?” 
          Profoundly moved, Alex whispered, “I think I am your Daddy.”  Jason beamed.  “My Daddy?  You my Daddy?”  He glanced at his mother, saw her nod.  “Mommy, me have Daddy!” the little boy exclaimed.  He stretched out a tentative hand to Alex’s face, and with a moan Alex wrapped his son in his arms, lifting him to his lap.  Elated when he felt his son’s kisses on his face, he gently kissed the boy’s forehead, whispering brokenly, “Ye mou” – my son.
          “How old is he, Glenda?”
          She smiled.  “Jason, tell Daddy your age.”
          Jason held up two fingers.  “Me two.”
          Alex hugged his son closer.  “You’re a big boy for two years old.  When I was that age, I looked just like you.”  This seemed to please Jason a lot, and they spent some time quietly enjoying Alex finding his son.

Peace on New Earth by Miriam Newman:
Hope is all they have on the planet Megasta when plague brought by Earth colonists begins killing the natives.  Will the love of two people from different worlds be enough to bring peace on New Earth?
They turned to each other in the night, after lovemaking and before dawn, in the hours when neither of them could sleep.
Jadelle was first to speak.  “Avron, what is it?” she questioned softly.
“My warriors will return at dawn.  I must think how to greet them.”
“Well…I think Kevan planned to do that.”
“He did?”  Accustomed to being the only leader, Avron was surprised and not entirely pleased by the thought.
“He has an obligation,” Jadelle pointed out gently.  “We are the ones who brought sickness to your people.”
“But you are the ones who will cure them, as well.  And I told them I hoped it would be so.  There is obligation upon me, as well.”
“Of course.  Perhaps you can do it together.”
“And you,” Avron insisted.  “When they first receive the idea of this cure, it must be you they see.  You will be the one to administer it to them, will you not?”
“Oh, yes,” Jadelle agreed at once.  “I wouldn’t miss that chance for anything.” 
She was so quiet then that finally Avron was the one to inquire what was in her mind.
Shifting slightly, she framed his face in her hands, kissing his forehead.  “Would you think I was silly if I said I was seeing the future?”
“You can do that?” he asked seriously.  The colonists performed so many wonders with their satellites and ‘puters, he was prepared to believe they had vision, as well.
“Not really.  It is just a picture I see in my mind, that’s all.  I can see fields by this oasis.  Water and crops, and bigger buildings by our domes.  Many of them.  Homes for people.  Places to gather.  To trade.  A school.  A town where our children can be educated together, if their parents wish it.  And beyond that…free land.  Land enough for your people to roam and hunt as they always have, so that your ways are not lost.  With med-technos from my domes to visit among them, giving knowledge and medication.  Your children fat and healthy, prospering.  I see those things, Avron, if I look hard enough.  I really do.”
He touched her back, in the darkness, running his hands the length of her small, precious body.  “If you do,” he said, “then I believe it may be so.”

Monday, November 8, 2010


This historical romance will be released in late Dec. 2010/early Jan. 2011 by DCL Publications. Here is a link to a beautiful trailer by the talented Kerri Nelson for you to enjoy in the meantime: 

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Although I'm noted as primarily a romance author, I have to tell you that sometimes something forces me to break the mold.  I was having one of those lapses when I wrote my little ebook novella, Dancer Dog.

What do you do when you are alone in the world?  If you’re a nice middle-aged lady with a social conscience, you go to your local shelter and adopt a rescue dog.  Of course, sometimes it isn’t only the dog who needs to be rescued. 

“We’re home,” I said in that tone you use when you give a dog the good news, and her soft ears pricked.  She sat up, looking eagerly out the window.  She hadn’t come to any palace, just a hundred-year-old Victorian cottage swamped with evergreens, bamboo and a lot of weeds I never found time to whack.  But it boasted a fascinating yard I had already decided to have fenced in despite the cost.  Sam and I walked the perimeter of the proposed yard so the dog could pee copiously once more, and then my friend (whose husband was waiting for her) had to take her leave of us.  She had been walking Dancer and the dog seemed a trifle confused when I took the leash, as though she had considered Sam her new owner, but when I led her into a warm place that smelled like food, she went right in.
            Kitty, accustomed to dogs, actually deigned to thump down from the rocking chair to greet us.  The next thing I knew, I was flattened against the solid oak door as a rampaging whirlwind ripped out of my unprepared grasp.  The cat had MOVED--God save the mark!—and Dancer responded instantly.  Poor Kitty, who hadn’t run that fast since her youth, whipped up the slippery wooden steps.  She was able to make good her getaway because Dancer had never before encountered steps.  The dog thrashed at the bottom, lunging in impotent fury, unable to deduce how to get upstairs.
            “No!” I admonished when I could catch my breath.  “Bad dog!  No chase!”
            She looked at me as if I was crazy.
            “Oh, come on,” I said, relenting.  “Let’s eat.”
            “I was just about to,” her expression said.  “Where did that cat go, anyway?”
            Kitty had gone to the attic.  She stayed there for a long time and she must have had telepathy with Smudgie, the barn cat, because I didn’t see old Smudge for days.
Her food disappeared and so did she.
            There followed a delightful afternoon and evening of snoozing on the couch with the dog tucked in the same position she had assumed with Sam, in this case flat on top of me with her nose between my neck and shoulder.  As long as her eyes were hidden, that tuck seemed to say, she couldn’t spot anyone coming to take her away from heaven.  A wave of protective warmth suffused my heart.  This dog must have been through hell.  Who knew what awful things had happened to her?  Well, her troubles were over.  I would see to that.
* * * *
           For the rest of Dancer's life, I did...but this little book is about the first hilarious year.  If you would like to download a copy of this inexpensive novella rated "Excellent" by reviewers, you can find it for $2.50 at


Monday, November 1, 2010


In the spirit of Halloween, here is a little romp available as an ebook at Set in the foxhunting country of Pennsylvania and Ireland, "Confessions" is a contemporary fantasy romance featuring Irish faeries, four-footed creatures and two people looking for love in all the wrong places.

Stowed away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney, a band of feisty Irish faeries is released in the outlying suburbs of Philadelphia where Malachi McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping.  In need of a housekeeper, he hires Shawna Egan, unaware that "his" faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree.

Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down the tree in which they made a home.  She gives them another and faeries always repay their debts.  But Shawna has secrets, and although she knows Mal is what she is seeking, will he want her after he has heard the confessions of the cleaning lady?