Time for a Change

Cancun Series website sm bannerWhen I completed my first romance novel and was ready to start pitching to publishers, I knew I had to build a brand which included graphics that looked the same across all forms of social media. Since my first book was based in Columbia and my second in Mexico, I decided a global look would be appropriate. My initial website banner was a map of the world.

Black Swan website sm bannerThree years later, and ten more books, my brand needs a facelift.

I have started with my website. I looked at dozens of websites by some of the most successful authors in the industry before selecting the elements I wanted to include in mine.

I invite you to check out my website and tell me what you think. Please be honest. Is it easy to maneuver? Is it intuitive?

Guardian Elite Series website sm bannerThere are twenty pages on this website and nearly 100 links, so I’m positive I’ve missed at least one, probably several. The first person to find a messed up link, or one that doesn’t take you to the right place, will receive a prize! Be sure to post the page and the link in the comments below so I know what needs to be fixed – and who gets a prize. 🙂

Several may win because there’s one prize for each missed link. (Hoping this doesn’t get embarrassing!) 

CLICK HERE to check out my website

 

Tami Lund Talks Beaches, Family & Making Memories

It’s almost vacation time again.

Every year in late July, my family, my dad, my siblings, and our kids all get together for a family vacation. We spend a week straight living in a (sometimes far too small) cottage on a lake in a rural part of Michigan.

Our requirements: two bathrooms (we’ve learned a few lessons over the years), a beach, and enough beds to accommodate all of us. That’s pretty much it. And to be honest, it’s all about the beach.

We go to a different lake, a different area of the state each year. One year we stayed on Mullet Lake, which connects to various other lakes through a network of rivers that are easily negotiable via a rented pontoon. The house wasn’t at all as advertised – the bedrooms were closets and my husband and I had to sleep on bunk beds. I didn’t get much sleep because I was afraid the bed would collapse at any moment. Not because I’d gained an excess of weight that year, but because they were that rickety.

Not to mention the kitchen sink that kept backing up and the fact that the owner hadn’t cleaned before we arrived.

But the water was crystal clear, the weather was utterly perfect, and those cruises up and down those rivers created priceless memories. That particular vacation was also the one that inspired me to start writing again after I’d stopped while in college.

One year we went earlier than usual. A whole month earlier. We should have known it was a mistake – heck, we joked about it. Summer doesn’t really start in Michigan until July Fourth. Everybody knows that. Yet we took our summer vacation the last week of June.

And froze our collective asses off. Which was probably for the best considering the lake we were staying on was questionable at best. The cabin was cool, though, and plenty big enough. We played a lot of cards that year. Talk about family bonding. Plus, that particular vacation fell on my daughter and my niece’s birthdays, and they thought it was loads of fun to celebrate in a log cabin.

Then there was the year we rented two cabins side-by-side. Each evening we came together for dinner at the picnic tables we lined up between the two dwellings. One evening when it was pouring rain, we sat at a long table on the covered, screened in porch attached to one of the houses, and taught the kids how to play Up and Down the River (also known as Crazy Bridge). I was reliving my own childhood that evening; the summers I spent at my grandparents’ house or their cottage on the lake. One of my fondest memories, frankly.

Another year we stayed in a house on a spring-fed lake. That lake was so clear you could see all the way to the bottom no matter where you were or how many feet deep it was. That was also one of the hottest summers on record in Michigan. It was 90 plus degrees every day. And the house did not have air. No worries, though – that lake was freaking cold. (Spring fed, remember?) And utterly perfect. Had it been less than 90 degrees, we wouldn’t have spent nearly as much time in the water.

To top it off, there was a sweet spot off the end of the neighboring dock, and the kids and my dad caught a mess of pan fish one day. Best fish fry of my life. There is nothing quite so satisfying or delicious as scaling and then eating fish you caught only hours prior.

One year we went to the Upper Peninsula. Yes, I know, who the hell goes that far north and expects to lounge on a lake all week? Pity, in truth, the weather was so cold (even in late July), because that was a gorgeous lake with an equally gorgeous view. Which we didn’t see much of because we spent our time huddled around the fire pit. All day long. But that was the year we rode a boat through the Soo Locks, ate the most amazing whitefish I’ve ever tasted, visited Drummond Island, and wandered around Tahquamenon Falls. We hardly spent any time in the water, but damn, that was a fun vacation.

Last year, the house was nice, the location perfect, but the beach was what felt like half a mile down a dangerously steep, zigzagging incline – and then the owners hadn’t kept it up so it was pretty mucky. Oh yeah, and then my brother dropped a canoe on my sister-in-law’s head. And the kids went exploring the woods at dusk and my brother and I panicked when they were gone so long, so then the adults fanned out, tromping through the undergrowth in the dark, calling their names, probably making the neighbors wonder at our collective sanity levels.

But we were all together (including my niece and nephew who live in another state and whom I don’t get to see very often) and across the quite small lake was a lovely sandy beach. It was easily accessibly via a canoe or kayak – or even a 1.5-mile trek around the perimeter. Probably the most steps I’ve ever put in on a vacation.

Summer vacay pic

The best part, of course, is spending quality time with the family. Hanging with my brothers and their significant others, my nieces and nephew, my kid, all of whom have managed to have fun even when the cottage was way, way too small or there was a line for the bathroom. Even when the weather didn’t cooperate.

Damn, I can’t wait to make this year’s memories.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund writes books, wins awards, drinks wine, and spends 51 weeks a year dreaming about the next summer vacation. Check out her website for your reading pleasure: www.tamilund.com.

Guest Post: Berry us blue by HL Carpenter

Berry us blue
by HL Carpenter

We have a confession to make. Sometimes…sometimes here in Carpenter Country we are not actually sitting at our computers all day working diligently on our next book. That’s right. Sometimes we…we go OUTSIDE! Into the SUNSHINE!

One of those special occasions took place in early May when we headed out to the u-pick field. Because we are serious blueberry pickers, we brought home enough berries to enjoy a few bowls fresh-from-the-field, to put a couple of handfuls on top of cereal, and to make biscuits, bread, buckles, cheesecake, coffee cake, crumbles, cobblers, donuts, muffins, pies, pancakes, scones, and ICE CREAM!

Are you screaming yet for blueberry ice cream? Us too. In fact, we’re going to take a break and sample a bowl. Here’s the recipe in case you want a break from your own busy day. You will need an ice cream maker (ours makes about 1½ quarts)and a blender or food processor for this recipe.


HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed, and dried (slightly less than a pint of fresh, or you can use frozen berries if you drain them well)
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, your choice – coconut milk is a delicious substitute)
½ cup sugar (more or less to suit your own sweet tooth — or teeth)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place rinsed blueberries in the blender or food processor and process for a minute or less.

Add the whipping cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to the pureed blueberries in the blender.

Process 10-20 seconds, just until mixed – not too long, or you’ll have whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes.

If you like soft, milkshake-type ice cream, pass out the spoons and dig in. For firmer ice cream, scoop the ice cream into a container and freeze two hours.

Okay, break’s over – back to work!

We invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

A Virgin and a Prisoner Walk into a Bar…

It’s a new release. It’s the end of a series. It’s the story of a woman who’s job is to save the world, and a man who’s job is to destroy her. Good thing he’s a prisoner. Except she’s become friendly with him, which cannot possibly bode well, for, well, anybody…

Here’s a taste of PRISONER OF FATE, Book 3 in the Twisted Fate Series:

cover

The First’s pet Rakshasa lounged in the wicker chair, one cotton-covered leg crooked over the armrest, the other perched on the floor. He hummed a tune Lily didn’t recognize, while he twirled what looked like a grilled jumbo shrimp on a stick.

He abruptly stopped humming and lifted his face and sniffed the air. Lily scuttled behind a nearby pillar. She waited until her heart wasn’t beating quite so erratically, then she peeked out from behind the column.

The shifter stared directly at her with unblinking black eyes.

“Oh,” she squeaked, unnerved by the solid, steady stare.

“Chala.” His voice was deep, like that actor from the insurance commercials she saw on television.

Lily felt that intense sense of awareness sweep through her again, licking at her insides, making her feel both hot and cold at the same time. She dropped her head back and leaned against the cool pillar and gave in to the racking shiver.

“No need to hide, Chala. I cannot harm you so long as you remain outside the reach of my lovely necklace.” He chuckled at his own joke.

Lily risked another look. He still lounged on the wicker chair, although the shrimp on the end of the stick was gone. And he still watched her with that breathtaking intensity.

“I–I didn’t think you would be awake,” she stuttered.

“I wouldn’t think you would be awake,” he countered. “It is terribly late. Is it not past your bedtime, Chala?”

Lily slowly stepped out from behind the pillar and stood next to it, feeling oddly exposed. Not returning to her room to change suddenly seemed like a poor decision.

“It’s Lily,” she said. “Lily Gallow. I hate it when people call me Chala,” she said, hoping he would appreciate the show of solidarity. She had to believe he hated to be referred to as “Pet.”

“Why? Are you not a Chala? Have my senses finally gone askew, after all this time?”

“Yes, I am. But I have a name, and I prefer people use it. Just as I imagine you do.”

“Are you asking for my name, Chala?”

“Yes,” she said boldly. “You must have one. Everyone has a name.”

“The First does not,” he pointed out.

“She does,” Lily countered. “She just chooses not to use it. You, I assume, didn’t have a choice in the matter.”

He paused, watching her for several heartbeats worth of time. “No,” he said finally. “I was not given a choice.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “I take it you aren’t going to tell me.”

The shifter chuckled. “Maybe I do not remember. I have been called Pet for a thousand years, you know.”

Lily shook her head. “You remember. I’m sure of it.” She paused, and when he still did not offer his name, she asked, “What do you miss most about your freedom?”

The shifter stared at her, blinking far less frequently than most other people she’d encountered. Finally, he sighed and kicked his foot into the air.

“I haven’t had a good kill, a good steak, or a good fuck in a thousand years. I miss everything, Lily Gallow. Everything.”

Fall in love with the entire Twisted Fate series…

ofloveanddarkness-large  PrimAndProperFate  PrisonerOfFate_200x300

Of Love and Darkness – Meet Gavin, a cursed Rakshasa, and Sydney, the last remaining Chala on earth. It’s up to her to save her species. A species, by the way, that Gavin’s kind wants to destroy. Except he’s cursed and believes he’s like her. Oh, and he happens to think they’re mates. This is definitely not a match made in heaven.

Amazon US        Amazon UK        Amazon AU       Amazon CA     Free in KU

Prim and Proper Fate – After double-crossing Gavin and nearly getting him killed, Brandon now finds himself in the precarious position of actually trying to save the cursed Rakshasa, because, well, some dumbass Fate un-cursed him. Brandon reaches out to the one person he knows can help—a prissy, too-good-for-her-own britches Fate named Prim, whose body makes him think anything but proper thoughts. Prim also happens to have a secret. One that could save their kind.

Amazon US               Amazon UK       Amazon AU      Amazon CA      Free in KU

Prisoner of Fate – Lily is a 170-year-old virgin shifter who has been hiding out on a desert island for her entire life. Now that she’s joined the real world she resents her responsibilities to her species: To choose the right mate and get to work repopulating the world with Light Ones who will protect the humans. Which is the very last thing she wants to do.

And then she meets Matteo, a Rakshasa—those shifters who like to eat humans as snacks. He’s been a prisoner of the Fates for a thousand years, and she has no business befriending him.

Lily never knew she had a thing for bad boys…

Amazon US           Amazon CA         Amazon AU        Amazon UK           Free in KU

 

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is a wine drinker, award-winner, and writer of sexy and funny book series. There’s more at www.tamilund.com.

 

American Flag Cake for #IndependenceDay @SSaraDaniel


Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.

American Flag Cake

pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Blueberries
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake

Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important – Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.

Enjoy.