Sunday, April 26, 2015


I came across these interesting little tidbits of household helpful hints the other day and thought I'd share them with you.  Most people agree that vodka doesn't have a smell or taste.  However, to me it smells and tastes like rubbing alcohol.  Therefore, I find these uses for vodka far more viable than drinking it.  :)

Remove a Band-Aid
If you've got a Band-Aid you want to remove without the pain of ripping it off, dab some vodka over the adhesive part so that it comes off with more ease. This method also works with stickers.

Treat Poison Ivy
If you think your skin has come into contact with poison ivy, pour vodka over the affected area immediately. Some say the stronger the alcohol, the better. Rubbing alcohol can also be used.

Freshen Laundry
Spritz some vodka on your clothes to freshen them up. Vodka kills odor-causing bacteria and dries with no smell. Be sure to keep the clothing in a well-ventilated area.

Ease a Toothache
Got a toothache? You should go to the dentist, but until then swish some vodka in your mouth. It will help disinfect the affected area and also numb the pain a little.

Insect Repellent
Pour some vodka into a spray bottle to repel pesky insects. Spray near you or on you, but avoid the eyes!

Keep Flowers Fresh
Mix vodka with a spoonful of sugar or baking soda with water to keep your flowers fresher in the vase for longer.

Tame Frizzy Hair
Mix some vodka into your hair conditioner to tame any frizzy hair and make it shinier. It also might help reduce flakes.

Window Washing
Instead of buying that blue stuff, use vodka to clean your windows. Just mix some cheap, high-proof vodka with water and spray away.

Treat Jellyfish Sting
Stung by a jellyfish? Pour some vodka on it ASAP to disinfect it and calm some of the sting.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

ISLAND ENCOUNTER—a conversation with Flynn and Traci

Flynn Ormond, a man of wealth and power, spotted the enticing Traci Meredith sunbathing on the deserted beach of his private island. But when he discovered her real reason for being there, he knew he had a problem. He couldn't afford the distraction to his decade long quest for revenge.

That sounds like something that definitely needs an explanation. And what better way to get that explanation than directly from the people involved.

My guests today are Flynn Ormond and Traci Meredith from ISLAND ENCOUNTER, an erotic romance novella by Samantha Gentry, released from The Wilder Roses (the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance at The Wild Rose Press) on Friday, April 17, 2015 (an from other online vendors).

Thank you, Flynn and Traci, for being with us today.

Traci:  It's our pleasure, Samantha.

Flynn:  Thanks for inviting us.

Before we get into the details of how the two of you met, I'm curious about something. Perhaps you could enlighten me…Flynn.

Flynn (brief look of apprehension crosses his face):  I'll try. What is it that grabbed your curiosity?

You're a man of extreme wealth and power.

Flynn (emits an uneasy chuckle):  Is that a question?

Actually, it's a statement of fact. You own the island where you and Traci met and everything on it—a large conference center with luxury accommodations and amenities such as tennis courts, swimming pool, and even an 18-hole golf course. Rather than a vacation destination, its purpose is to provide a facility for things like corporate retreats. Yet you present yourself to everyone as the island caretaker—the liaison between the mysterious unknown owner and the people using the facilities. And apparently that's just the tip of the ice berg with regard to your vast holdings. It's commonly accepted as fact that with extreme wealth comes extreme power. My question is, why hasn't anyone ever heard of you? Your name doesn't appear in the newspapers, on the internet, on television. There aren't any reports of your business dealings, of your coming and going…not even any sordid gossip.

Flynn:  Wow…that's quite a question. You've put me on the spot here. My best answer is that I'm a private person and it's impossible to be private when the eyes on the world are following everything you do. I look at a public display of power and ostentatious flaunting wealth as an ego thing.  Don't get me wrong…I enjoy the money, the freedom it gives me, the very comfortable lifestyle it provides, but my ego doesn't require those strokes. (emits soft chuckle) Of course, now it's going to be much more difficult to remain anonymous. (shoots a get me out of this look at Traci as he reaches for her hand)

Traci:  When I first met Flynn, he said he was the island caretaker and nothing more about himself. I was suspicious of him. That description did not fit in with what I saw and heard…a confident, self-assured man of high intelligence, someone in control of his surroundings yet without any arrogance. A very unusual combination. No way was he some rich guy's yes-man. I couldn't figure him out.

The two of you met on the beach at Flynn's island?

Traci:  Yes, I had found what I thought was a deserved stretch of beach in a beautiful little cove away from the conference center activity. I had just stretched out on my beach mat when my peaceful reverie was broken by the voice of this stranger staring at me. My immediate reaction to the situation? Trepidation. The way he blatantly looked me over—all alone, scantily dressed, no one around to hear me yell for help. But that was closely followed by what I have to admit was a serious rush of desire on my part. Fortunately, he didn't give off any threatening vibes. We ended that brief conversation with a promise to have a drink together that night following dinner in the conference center's dining room.

Flynn:  I can definitely say for me, that encounter on the beach was lust at first sight. I had never seen anyone more stunning or desirable. As we talked, I became uneasy about her purpose for being at a corporate retreat attended primarily by what could best be termed members of the good ol' boys network of a large multi-national corporation. Even after she explained that she did not work for the corporation or any of its companies, that she was a freelance consultant presenting one of the scheduled seminars, I felt there was more to it than that.

You were concerned about her trying to dig into your past? Thinking that she might be an investigative reporter?

Flynn:  No…nothing like that. But I did have her checked out and what I found bothered me.

Traci:  And when I found out he had dug into my past…well I think it's safe to say I wasn't a happy camper.

Flynn (spontaneous laugh):  You can say that again! Merely unhappy doesn't quite capture the mood. She was livid and didn't hesitate in letting me know how she felt.

What did you find out that bothered you so much?

Flynn:  I was concerned about her having a hidden agenda…something that would interfere with my personal agenda, a plan I had been working on for a decade. A plan known to only two other people. (very serious expression crosses his face)

I understand that you were looking for…uh, I heard you were out for revenge. Is that true?

Flynn:  Well…yes. I had a long term goal for revenge. I had spent a lot of money getting everything in place with the final step only a few days away.

Revenge for what? Why? And how did Traci's past seem to interfere with this agenda of yours?

Traci:  Let me tackle this question. Even though Flynn and I had never crossed paths, each being totally unaware of the existence of the other, we had something from our separate lives that put us on a collision course in the present. But we had very different plans for how to deal with it, what we each wanted that put us in the same place at the same time and on that inevitable collision course.

This all sounds very mysterious. What is it from your past that the two of you had in common?

Traci (laughs):  I think you need to read the book to find out.

Flynn:  I second that. You'll have to buy the book.

Thank you, Flynn and Traci. So, everyone out there, get to The Wilder Roses (or your favorite online vendor) and purchase your copy of ISLAND ENCOUNTER.

The Wilder Roses buy link:

He wants revenge. She wants peace.

A man with the wealth and power to make things happen, Flynn Ormond is about to see his decade-long quest for revenge fulfilled. But then he stumbles onto a bikini-clad beauty sunbathing on his deserted beach. He wants her, and he's accustomed to getting what he wants. However, she's a distraction he can't afford, not at all what she seems, and stands against everything he believes is right.

Traci Meredith has a long term plan of her own, to confront the man responsible for the death of her parents and finally move on with her life. But when sun-kissed god of a caretaker wanders into her life one sunny morning, she lets more than the tropical paradise seduce her from her goal. Then she discovers the truth of his identity and the length he'll go to for justice. Can she lure him from destruction's grip or will the fingers of the past hold on tight?

Publisher's Excerpt:
She carefully measured her words. "You seem to know a lot about his personal life. Does the island owner require that type of personal information about the people who use the conference facilities?"

He propped his body up on one elbow facing her. "And do you always follow sex with accusations and an interrogation? I think any concerns you have about me or my character would be more appropriately addressed before sex."

Even though the gleam in his eyes and mischievous grin said he was teasing, she couldn't stop herself from throwing his own words back to him. "That doesn't really answer my question, does it?"

His expression turned serious. "The answer to your question is no, the island owner does not require extensive background checks on those who wish to rent the facilities. Usually nothing beyond the normal credit check unless the potential client has a reputation for destructive behavior such as the case with certain celebrities. Now, to repeat my question. Do you always follow sex with an interrogation? Take a beautiful and incredible interaction and put a damper on it?"

A nervous jitter told her she had pushed her concerns too far. She forced a smile. "We seem to have veered off into some sort of a strange direction."

"Yes…you have. Would I get a straight answer from you if I asked why?" He furrowed his brow in a moment of confusion. "Is there something about you being here that I need to know? And before you take offense, let me clarify. By here, I mean at this conference rather than here in my bed. I consider our being in my bed a personal matter based on mutual attraction and having nothing to do with the outside world."

She took a deep breath in an attempt to steady her tensed nerves. "Well, we do agree on that." Her defensiveness quickly gave way to feelings of guilt over misleading him. "I apologize if I've given you the wrong impression. It's just that…well, I'm not accustomed to hopping in bed with a man I've only known a few hours. Or more accurately, one I don't know at all and only encountered for a few minutes earlier today. I guess I allowed my insecurities to show."

His turquoise eyes seemed to delve into the very essence of her psyche. As if she had no will of her own, she felt herself being drawn into his mesmerizing aura. Her mind clouded and her body once again ached for his touch. "Maybe I'm just experiencing the equivalent of morning after jitters."

He drew her closer. "Let's see if I can calm them for you."

Stop by my website for additional excerpts from ISLAND ENCOUNTER and a look at my other available books.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


This Friday, April 17, 2015, is release day for my erotic romance, ISLAND ENCOUNTER.

He wants revenge. She wants peace.

A man with the wealth and power to make things happen, Flynn Ormond is about to see his decade-long quest for revenge fulfilled. But then he stumbles onto a bikini-clad beauty sunbathing on his deserted beach. He wants her, and he's accustomed to getting what he wants. However, she's a distraction he can't afford, not at all what she seems, and stands against everything he believes is right.

Traci Meredith has a long term plan of her own, to confront the man responsible for the death of her parents and finally move on with her life. But when sun-kissed god of a caretaker wanders into her life one sunny morning, she lets more than the tropical paradise seduce her from her goal. Then she discovers the truth of his identity and the length he'll go to for justice. Can she lure him from destruction's grip or will the fingers of the past hold on tight?

ISLAND ENCOUNTER, an erotic romance novella by Samantha Gentry and the next in my Encounter books series, will be available from The Wilder Roses (the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance at The Wild Press).

Flynn Ormond is extremely wealthy, a wealth that has also given him a great amount of power.

However…unlike most men with that kind of wealth and power, very few people who know him are aware of this.  Even though he lives on a privately owned island, only two people know he actually owns it, the only two people he has taken into his full confidence.  Part of the island contains a luxury conference center.  With the exception of Flynn's attorney and his long time best friend who works for him, everyone believes he is the island caretaker and manager of the conference facilities…nothing more than the mysterious and unknown owner's representative.

And that's the way Flynn likes it. He has always preferred to maintain a low profile rather than being a public—and newsworthy—figure always in the spotlight and under a microscope so that all his activities and business dealings as well as his personal life are constantly being scrutinized.

And when a very wealthy and powerful high profile industrialist with a reputation for ruthless business dealings books the conference facilities for a week long corporate retreat, it gives him direct access to the one man who has been the subject of Flynn's decade long quest and the availability of finally putting an end to his one all-consuming drive.

A plan for revenge.

After a decade of maneuvers and manipulation, everything is in place and moving along on schedule.  Then one morning he comes across Traci Meredith sunbathing on the deserted beach in a secluded island cove, and his world suddenly turns upside down.

It doesn't take much conversation to determine how she got on the island and arouse his suspicions about her connection to the man at the center of his quest for vengeance, but exactly what is her connection and will it interfere with and compromise his master plan?

His immediate attraction to her is tempered with his need for caution.  He has spent too much money and too much time for his plan to suddenly be derailed by his desire for this woman.

A desire greater than any he has ever experienced.  A desire he doesn't understand.  A desire that frightens him in its enormity.

Excerpts are available on my website:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

10 Strangest Ways That States Tax You (or Don't)

With April 15 just around the corner, paying federal and state income taxes are on everyone's mind.  Many states (actually, most states) have their own annual income tax in addition to the federal income tax. And some of those states have an even more complex tax code than the IRS. All states require enough sources of income to meet their expenses. Those states without an individual income tax make up the loss of income by imposing other obligations on their residents.

All of the states have devised ways of producing extra income to meet their needs.  It goes without saying (although, I'm going to say it) that some of these income producing methods are a bit quirky. But on the other hand, some states have weird tax deductions that favor the tax payer.

Here is a list of 10 strange state tax laws.

1. Hawaii: Exceptional Trees
In order to preserve the uniqueness of their island paradise, Hawaii has had an "Exceptional Tree" tax allowance since 2004. Landowners can deduct up to $3,000 from their income for expenses such as pruning and fertilization for any tree designated as rare, big, old or a combination thereof. The work must be done by a certified arborist, and the deduction can be claimed only every third year. Hawaii has had a list of "Exceptional Trees" since 1975, and there are now estimated to be more than a thousand such designated trees.

2. Maine: Blueberries And Clams
Maine legislators tax anyone who deals in their official state fruit of blueberries, at the rate of 1.5 cents per pound. The resulting revenues—more than $1.6 million to the state in the fiscal year ended June 2013—are used to promote the crop and agricultural research. [not sure what that has to do with clams :)]

3. Alabama: Playing Cards
Alabama is the last remaining state in the union to tax a deck of cards as if it were a vice, like alcohol and tobacco. Taxing decks of cards, originally associated with gambling, was once fairly common. However, most states have since set up separate control boards to regulate liquor and tobacco, and have eliminated cards from that special tax category.

4. Virginia: Sheep
Virginia levies a 50-cent excise tax on every lamb or sheep sold in the state. The funds collected go to the Virginia Sheep Industry Board, which spends the money largely on predator control.

5. Maryland: The Rain?
In 2013, Maryland legislators enacted fees on property owners in Baltimore and nine other Maryland counties, aimed at curbing storm water runoff. This action, taken in 2013, was for the purpose of funding programs to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest marine estuary in the U.S. The manner in which the Maryland legislators wrote the law has led to an angry backlash in some areas against this so-called rain tax. One way localities calculate the tax is by measuring how much of a landowner's property prevents precipitation from being able to seep into the ground. The more the property is developed with buildings, driveways, tennis courts, etc., the less it will be able absorb precipitation thus the more the owner pays. Many landowners are extremely unhappy about it and newly elected Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has introduced legislation to repeal it, though it's not clear it will get through the state legislature. The state needs to raise money to satisfy the federal pollution mandates, but the methods may change.

6. Kansas: Weak Beer
Kansas is among several jurisdictions that allows sale of lower-alcohol beer (the actual term is cereal malt beverage) in convenience and grocery stores. But Kansas also taxes 3.2 beer differently, and therein lies the problem. At a liquor store, all products, including, a conventional six-pack of beer such as Budweiser (with 5 percent alcohol by volume), are taxed at a special rate of 8 percent. At the convenience store down the street, however, ordinary sales tax is levied on the lower volume alcohol beer (the 3.2 percent cereal malt beverage). That often ends up being more than the 8 percent alcohol tax.

7. California: Strong Liquor
When it comes to taxation, the rule is generally the stronger the booze, the higher the tax (that's why Kansas's beer tax law is an anomaly). California follows that curve, but at 100 proof, you better be ready to pay big time. Distilled spirits are taxed at $3.30 a gallon if below 100 proof (50 percent alcohol). Higher than that and the tax doubles.

8. Nevada: Entertainment
Entertainment venues pay a business tax to Nevada ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent on admissions fees (and food, drink and merchandise sales) whenever there's live entertainment going on. There are exemptions, however, including this one, for businesses that provide "instrumental or vocal music, which may or may not be supplemented with commentary by the musicians, in a restaurant, lounge or similar area if such music does not routinely rise to the volume that interferes with casual conversation and if such music would not generally cause patrons to watch as well as listen."

9. New Jersey: Costly Cars With Bad Mileage
Want to own a plush or fuel-thirsty ride? That'll cost you extra in New Jersey. Cars that cost $45,000 or more or have a combined EPA fuel-mileage average of 19mpg or below pay an additional 0.4 percent on top of New Jersey's 7 percent sales tax.

And finally…a perk for tax-payers.

10. New Mexico: Centenarians
In New Mexico, making it to 100 years has a payoff—you don't have to pay state income tax anymore. If you've been physically present in the state for at least six months and a resident of the state on the last day of the year, and you're not someone's dependent, you're eligible. You'll still need to file, and there are some complications if you're married and your spouse doesn't qualify for the deduction.

Any strange taxation laws in your state?