Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thursday Threads: Riding for Love by Tina Susedik

Riding for Love
Tina Susedik

Genre: Contemporary Mystery
One Line Hook: Can a man who is afraid of horses learn to ride to re-establish a relationship with an old flame? Love, Loss, Redemption
Heat: Sizzling


            “Hi, sweetheart,” Rose said, ruffling his hair before going to the refrigerator for a glass of lemonade.
He jumped and slapped a hand to his chest. “Geez, Mom, you scared the daylights out of me.” He set the brochure down and picked up an envelope. “What are you doing home? I thought you were going out with friends tonight.”
Rose sat down on the opposite her son. “I did, but Tom had to get back early and the others had family obligations. Tonight is the last night at the ranch for a youth group from Milwaukee.” She reached over and slid the brochure across the table. “It’s a group of teenagers learning to ride and care for horses to teach them alternative ways to channel anger. Eve developed the program this year.”
“Wow, I’m impressed.”
“You should be,” Rose commented, flipping through the pamphlet filled with photos of the cabins, lodge, barn, and horses on trail rides. “Eve’s worked very hard to make the ranch a success. Every year she comes up with another way to help others relax and have fun. Last year was the first year for winter activities.” She folded the brochure and pressed it smooth. “Have you been out there yet?”
Denton opened the envelope and slipped out a sheet of paper. “No, I’ve been too busy at work. Besides, I don’t think Eve would appreciate me just showing up.”
“Why? She’s so proud of what she’s accomplished.” Rose peered at her son. “You never did tell me what happened when you went to dinner with her. Is she still mad?”
Running a hand over his face, he huffed out a breath. “I guess that would be a good way of putting it, although mad seems too light a word. I explained about Marie, and she seemed to understand what happened, but, after all these years, she’s still angry with me.”
“There could be a good reason.”
“Yeah, like what?”
Rose reached across the table to stop his shredding the sheet of paper he was holding. “Could be she still has feelings for you. Do you still care for her?”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Just answer your mother, Denton Johansen.”
“I never lost my feelings for her.” He pushed the paper away and tapped his fingers on the table. “She said she never had closure. Well, neither did I. One week, I’m home enjoying time with her and next, I’m married to someone else.” He raked his fingers through his hair again. “Now she’s ignoring me. I’m probably beating my head against the wall. I’ve called, written, sent flowers.”
“Hmm . . .”
Lord, he hated it when his mother got that tone in her voice. She didn’t have to say one word, just utter “hmm” like she knew something he didn’t and he would ultimately pay for it. “Hmm, what?”
“What happened when you went to dinner with Eve?”
“We met, had a drink, talked about old times, etc., etc.”
Rose chuckled. “Oh, I’m sure much more than that happened for you to be this upset.” She held up a hand to stop a reply. “Don’t say you’re concerned about the lawsuit. I’m your mother. You’re a problem solver and taking care of the embezzlement was more than work for you.” Rose rested her chin in her hand and stared at her son. “It’s solving the problem of Eve making you discombobulated.”
Denton pushed the piece of paper toward his mother.
“What’s this?”
He smiled nervously, stood, and paced the length of the kitchen, stove to refrigerator and back again. “Part of a plan to get close to Eve.” He finally settled his backside against the stove, folding his arms over his chest in defiance.
Rose dropped the paper on the table. “Are you crazy? You can’t possibly do this.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Rose stood and placed a hand on his cheek. “But this is a little drastic, isn’t it? Are you so keen on getting her back you’d go this far?”
“Mom, I need to find out if what we had as teenagers can be resurrected.” Denton wrapped his arms around his mother and held her close so she wouldn’t notice the tears in his eyes. “I’ve missed Eve for ten years and will do anything to win her back. Anything.”
“But, dear, how are you going to be able to get through two weeks of riding lessons? Aren’t you still afraid of horses?”
He laughed, hoping to ease the trip in his heart at the thought of spending fourteen days on the back of one of those giant creatures. But fourteen days spent in Eve’s company sent his heart tripping faster. “Nope.”
Rose leaned back. She squinted at him.
“Nope, not afraid.” His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down, and he refrained from wiping sweat from his upper lip. “More like petrified, horrified, scared stiff.”
“Well, you should be, considering what happened the last time you rode one,” Rose said, leaving Denton’s arms and picking up the confirmation for his stay at the ranch.
“Mom, that was twenty years ago. I need to overcome my fear of horses to spend some time with her, hopefully break through the wall she’s built against me,” Denton replied, trying to convince himself as much as his mother.
Rose shook her head and patted her son on the shoulder. “Well, you have only three weeks to convince that to your shaking hands, my dear boy.”

You can purchase Riding for Love at:  http://amzn.to/19EPv8v 
Website: tinasusedik.com
Blog: tinasusedik@wordpress.com
Twitter: @tina susedik
Facebook: Tina Susedik, Author
Goodreads: Goodreads.com/tinasusedik


Sunday, July 13, 2014

International Authors' Day... and Hair

Happy International Authors' Day! In celebration of this amazing holiday, I'm reposting one of my favorite posts and offering a giveaway. My hugest thanks to the B00k R3vi3ws Blog for hosting this hop. 

Also, at the end of this blog post is a sexy, sexy Giveaway. Wanna win a digital copy of Hunted, Hunted Past, or Hunted Dreams? Enter below for a chance. Thanks, my friends, and good luck!


Our crowning glory is all tied all up in knots with issues of power, privilege, history, and tradition. You think I exaggerate? Ask a Pentecostal woman why she doesn’t cut her hair, an Orthodox Jewish man why he wears his peyot, a Black woman about the politics of straightening, a woman media star how long she’s sported hair extensions. You think it’s a coincidence that 18% of Americans have blond hair and 2% of the world’s population sports blond hair and yet you can't shake a rice cake in Hollywood without touching a towhead?*

"My feisty redhead does feminism right."
Even books, an arguably more cerebral popular cultural medium, aren't immune. Novels may not contribute directly to visual culture, but they do verbally represent and reproduce it. I mean, for not even being visual media, most books get all (representationally) dressed up in a host of visual tropes. In my genre, paranormal romance, for example, ever notice how many sheroes’ tresses tumble down their back like May Day ribbons? How come no, or very few, characters have receding hairlines, limp and lifeless locks, cowlicks that leave their hair in perpetual disarray? For that matter, where are the cornrows, the fauxhawks, the feminine brush cuts, the masculine ponytails, the springy natural hair? Why are historical romances exploding like cover models out of their bodices with thin, feisty, redheaded sheroes who sorta-but-not-really defy oppressive gender conventions?

See what I mean? Politics. Hair is all wrapped up in ‘em.

I get it: romances aren’t about accuracy; they’re about fantasy. Escapism. No straight woman, the story goes, wants to imagine herself falling in love with some 40-something middle manager with a receding hairline and a paunch, right? And what feminine reader wants to identify with a stick-thin woman whose brown ‘fro punches through literary conventions and reminds us of our own sources of marginalization? We’re here to forget and enjoy, right?

Yeah, but… I like baldness. I dig dreadlocks. I call gray hair “tinsel” and celebrate its festiveness. I think Jew ‘fros are hot. And I can’t be the only person who has a special fondness for un-mane-like brown and black hair and who is sick to her bones of sheroes’ blonde locks that flow like tatters of yellow silk in… blah, blah, blah.

Imagine this hottie with a blond cutie on her arm.
I would argue it’s not all a matter of taste, though. I mean, shouldn’t writers be mindful about the visual and representational culture to which we contribute? Perhaps readers are expecting the usual, European-featured, feminine-but-spunky-and-independent blonde shero™ and the alphalicious,-violent-but-tamable earl, brigand, or CEO with raven black hair and flashing indigo eyes™? Does that mean we’re obligated to package it up and present it to them with a shiny purple bow? Wouldn’t it be fun- -- and maybe, sorta, kinda socially responsible -- to occasionally defy, or perhaps even toy with, some of those tired and exclusive expectations?  Imagine a shero with kickass dreadlocks and a hero with dark blond, wavy hair. Kinda cool, right? Or what about a redheaded hero? A shero with a short, punky ‘do and some face jewelry? A shiny-pated hero? (Speaking of which, did you know testosterone causes baldness and baldness is correlated with lower rates of prostate cancer? You want your hero to remain healthy and virile, right?) These images might not meet expectations, but they sure as heck might help change them.

I like a little bit of reality mixed into my fantasy. Goodness knows I’m not going to start centering my plots around folding laundry and cleaning up cat vomit, so perhaps it’s best to start with the characterizations of the people who inhabit my literary worlds. I like thinking I may be encouraging my readers – and myself – to expand our mental palette and challenge our hierarchies of beauty.

Be the change I wish to see, Gandhi?** Howzabout I represent it and give my readers a brief opportunity to join me in inhabiting it?

* Sorry, but I couldn’t find stats on how many actors are blond, naturally or not. 
** This is actually not a direct quote of Gandhi's, but why contradict the bumper stickers? 

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thursday Threads: An Enduring Love by Wareeze Woodson

An Enduring Love
by Wareeze Woodson

Genre: Regency romantic suspense
Heat level: Sensual
Buy linkhttp://buff.ly/1qqyBSe  


Born and raised in Latvia, Rebecca Balodis marries Rhys Sudduth, an English diplomat. Shortly thereafter, he is summoned home to attend his father’s death-bed. Rebecca cannot accompany him at the time and becomes trapped in the turmoil plaguing her country. He is informed she died in the upheaval. 

Nearly four years later, she escapes and arrives in London with their son in tow. Arriving in the middle of his sister’s ball is very awkward, especially since Rhys plans to announce his betrothal to a young debutante later in the evening.

Trouble, tangled in suspense and danger, follow her from Latvia. Can this pair ever find or even recognize an enduring love? Is it worth keeping?


A liveried butler, stern of countenance and standing stiffly erect opened the door. “Your invitation, Ma’am.”
Rebecca trembled, but forced out, “Surely, I don’t need an invitation. Please inform Lord Rhys that his wife is here.”
Astonishment flashed across the butler’s face before he bowed his head and nodded for her to follow him. Sonja was seated in the hall while he led Rebecca to a small parlor papered with stripes of ivory and cream. The entire room seemed a little intimidating, with an elaborate sofa covered with gold brocade sitting before a wide window. Chairs were shattered about the room as well, but the beauty of the room did little to sooth her nerves. She glanced at the low table in front of the sofa then let her gaze shift to the fireplace, glowing with warmth. The softly burning coals added soothing comfort to the room and with that, her whole body relaxed.
After the butler exited, Rebecca quickly knelt down to straighten Johnnie’s apparel. “We want to look our best mans maz cilveku, my little man. You must learn English better now we are home. They are not expecting us, but no matter. Your father will love you.”
The door opened and Rhys stood on the threshold with a scowl of impatience on his face, speaking to the butler over his shoulder. “Some strumpet masquerading as my deceased wife. Be damned. You’re positive she said, my wife. Not a long lost relative wanting to sponge…?”
 Rebecca jumped to her feet, took Johnnie by the hand and pasted a trembling smile on her lips. “Rhys.”


twitter -  twitter.com@wareeze

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Tithe Excerpt

I just finished my first round of edits for The Tithe. Squee! Having just reread this, I have to be honest with you all: This book rocks. It does. It's the rawest, most honest book I've ever written. It tackles themes ranging from social inequalities to religious dogma to the consequences of utopias. It's a heavy, contemplative novel, but it also features one of the purest loves I've ever penned. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried a little at the end, and heck, I wrote the sucker and knew what to expect!

"Okay, sure. But might you not be just the teensiest bit biased?" you may ponder. This is why, my friends, I'm including an excerpt below for your reading and judging pleasure. I welcome all comments.

Happy reading!


She shook her head. “It sounds so sad.”
“It wasn’t. You can’t have sadness unless you know happiness. I knew neither.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes.
Finally, in a voice mere decibels from a whisper, Josh asked, “What about now?” Shameless, she knew, but maybe voicing the question would exorcise it.
“Why are you asking a question you already know the answer to?” he asked in his inflectionless voice.
“I don’t,” she insisted.
“Everything changed when you touched me.” 
After a confused moment, and with many darting glances, she asked in a low tone, “In bed?”
“In the hallway. You touched me, and my life cleaved into a before and a now. Before, I existed, and it was fine. I was content. And then, you. Everything cracked open, and I felt as if I’d just reminded my senses to function. Now, it all feels so raw. Sometimes just the passing of time abrades my skin. Being with you is exquisite and real. And painful.”
Very carefully, Josh put her hands on her knees and leaned forward. She stared at the wall opposite them, against which Taro no longer pressed himself. In she breathed, and out. In and out.
No, she didn’t understand. Or, maybe a little. When she was a young girl, maybe six or seven, a new imrabi had made it her goal to befriend her. Josh hadn’t known what to think of this tall, strong young woman, her right cheek and half her brow stained with a wine-red birthmark. Her name was . . . well, honestly, Josh didn’t remember her name. The imrabi hadn’t stayed long. Another town had needed her.
The woman must have pitied her, this plain, sassy little girl who dressed herself in the morning and braided her own long brown hair. She made it a point to sit with her during services, to sneak her chocolate milk and extra biscuits, to ask her about herself. Josh had responded cautiously, although she’d never refused a single buttered roll.
Then, one time, the imrabi decided to tickle her. It was what adults did with children, but Josh had no way of knowing that. She only knew few of the imrabi spoke with her, let alone showed her physical affection. When the woman’s fingers brushed against the sensitive undersides of Josh’s arms, she shrieked. The imrabi, mistaking Josh’s reaction for laughter, persisted.
Unsure what to think, only knowing the strange, almost painfully tender feeling of the woman’s fingers on her own untouched skin, Josh began screaming. The woman rocked back in alarm, overbalanced, and fell on her bottom. Josh’s screams bounced off the stone walls, rebounded, scratched at her own ears. The imrabi stared hard at her before rising to her grand height and quitting the room without a word.
The woman never spoke to her again, and a few months later, she left their rab’ri.
Twenty-year-old Josh straightened her posture and rubbed her calf with her other foot. “What can I do to make it hurt less?” she asked him.
Blue’s lips thinned into a smile. “I don’t want it to hurt less. Every second that scrapes my skin is another one I spend with you.”