Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot Books For A Hot Summer

Most of the month of June has been unseasonably hot and humid. All-in-all, the kind of days where I don't want to stray very far from the air conditioned comfort of home. Thank goodness my office is in my house. :)

I think this hot weather deserves some HOT books, so I thought I'd revise one of my blogs from last summer that seemed appropriate.


The weather isn't the only thing contributing to the hot days of summer. There's also the blazing SUMMER SIZZLE of a California beach town and the sultry heat found on FORBIDDEN ISLAND, a privately owned Caribbean retreat. These two books are incendiary enough to burn up the pages while making you reach for the we need to cool things down setting on the air conditioner.

The Romance Studio gave SUMMER SIZZLE 5 Hearts and had this to say: "Unlike many romances now where the story is a set of sex scenes loosely connected by fleeting emotion or inane dialogue, Ms. Gentry has crafted a rich tale that makes the reader care about these two characters in a memorable way. The characters are fully realized and come to life in a story that was impossible to put down. The story was well thought out, the plotting spot on, and the dialogue was refreshingly realistic. Because I was so emotionally engaged as the reader, the sexual scenes meant something and were perfect for this story. This is the first story I've read by this author but it definitely won't be the last. Ms. Gentry is an extraordinary voice in today's romance market. Check her out today!"

Do opposites really attract? And if they do, can it lead to something real rather than a momentary connection based on nothing more than a hot physical attraction?

Vicki Templeton and Blake Callahan seem to be about as opposite as two people can be. She's compulsively organized, every hour of her day planned out in advance. All her efforts go toward building a financially secure future for herself by working hard and sacrificing today's fun for tomorrow's security. Blake, on the other hand, has learned a painful and emotionally devastating lesson about today versus tomorrow. His experience has taught him that no one is guaranteed a tomorrow so living for today is what's important.

Regimented work schedule versus spontaneous spur-of-the-moment fun. So what happens when these two totally mismatched people each claim to have a legal rental agreement for the same beach bungalow? While Blake plays havoc with her neatly ordered life, Vicki has him thinking beyond today and speculating about the possibility of what tomorrow can bring.

Can two people who don't agree on much of anything except the scorching hot physical relationship that nearly bursts into flame whenever they come into physical proximity manage to cohabitate for the duration of the summer? Can each discover the pieces missing from their respective lives? Can the heat of the day match the SUMMER SIZZLE pulling them together?

SUMMER SIZZLE is available from Cobblestone Press.

And to continue with our HOT weather selections, maybe I can tempt you with some sultry tropical breezes on FORBIDDEN ISLAND.

Romance Junkies gave FORBIDDEN ISLAND 4.5 Blue Ribbons and had this to say: "Chantal and Murphy’s scorching hot romance is only intensified by the exotic location. Despite there being ten years since they last saw each other there’s an undeniable connection between these characters and they certainly don’t waste any time making up for all the years they’ve been apart. FORBIDDEN ISLAND brings to mind all those fantasies about a romantic encounter with someone special in your own private paradise."

Have you ever met someone in passing and immediately knew you wanted to rip off his clothes and drag him to the nearest bedroom? No commitment. No concern about tomorrow. Someone you couldn't get out of your mind regardless of how much you tried?

That is Chantal Stevens' problem. All it took was an introduction and a businesslike handshake for her to know Murphy Abbott was that someone. But nothing came of their meeting. He was polite and charming, but seemed in a hurry to leave. She was mesmerized. But that's all the further it went. For the next ten years she continued to ask herself what if until she knew she had to do whatever it took to find the answer to that question, something that would allow her to satisfy her curiosity. Could any man really be as incredible a lover or have as much stamina as her fantasies had attributed to Murphy?

So Chantal devised a plan—a deception that would get her an invitation to Forbidden Island so she could meet face-to-face with Murphy at his private enclave in the Caribbean and answer once and for all that elusive question…what if?

But to Chantal's surprise, when she arrives at Murphy's island she discovers she's not the only one who has played the mental what if game during the last ten years. Murphy has his own thoughts about what the weekend will bring.

FORBIDDEN ISLAND is part of the Destination Pleasure series of short story quick reads from The Wilder Roses, the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance from The Wild Rose Press.

I hope I've caught your interest and you'll pick up these two HOT reads. Check my website for excerpts from these two books, as well as my other current releases.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What You Can Steal From Your Hotel Room—Guilt Free

Lots of jokes abound about the things people feel compelled to steal from hotel rooms when they check out. There's even the unconfirmed tales of people changing their name to correspond with their newly acquired monogrammed bed and bath linens.

There are items in your hotel room that the hotel is happy to have you take—free souvenirs, mementos of your trip, a keepsake from a special occasion.  And then there are the items that at the least can result in a hefty additional charge on your credit card and possibly even something as serious as criminal charges.

Pens and Pencils: Stationery, pens, pencils, and the postcards in the room are yours to take. Every time you use them, it's free advertising for the hotel.

Towels and Linens: Towels are not yours for the taking, but they are the top item to disappear from hotel rooms. Holiday Inn alone estimated that they lost 560,000 towels in one year. But to also take the bed linens? Just how big does your suitcase need to be to have that much extra room in it?

Lotions and bathroom items: All those little bottles of shampoo, hair conditioner, body lotion, and soaps are there for you to use and take with you whether they've been opened or not. They're the perfect travel size and take up very little room, not to mention that they're sized to meet the airline 3 oz. rule.

Laundry Bags: We've all helped ourselves to the plastic laundry bags in hotel rooms to use for dirty clothes or that damp swim suit. No problem there. However, if the hotel uses cloth or canvas bags, you can expect to see a charge on your bill if you take it with you when you check out.

Docks and Clocks: It's safe to assume that a room's clock radio and iPod dock system are not there for you to take home with you. Boston's Onyx Hotel takes a simple approach. "You can take anything you want from the room, but we'll charge your credit card for replacement."

Robes, Slippers, and Umbrellas: It can occasionally be confusing, but most hotels will bill you if that luxurius robe goes missing. Some hotels will provide package rates that include such items as monogrammed robes, slippers, branded totes, books, and even bottles of premium liquor. But beware, those "complimentary" items can come at a steep price as some of the package rates can be as much as twice the regular room rate.

Gideon Bibles: Bibles have been a long time amenity in hotel rooms. Even though they are slowly being edged out, Gideon International still places more than ten million copies in hotel rooms annually to replace those that are taken. They claim they're happy, in this case, to have people break the eighth commandment about stealing.

There have been lots of strange items taken from hotels over the years. The following are some true tales.

A woman from San Jose, California, took the "C" from the coat check sign in San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel and was pursued through the hotel by men in blazers shouting, "Madam, the 'C'…give us the 'C!'"

A Geneva lawyer admits being caught by a receptionist of a Hamburg hotel while trying to make off with "an entire display of apples in a rather large fruit bowl from the hotel lobby."

A huge piece of blown glass by Dale Chihuly was once stolen from a table in the lobby of The Alexis in Seattle, Washington.

Bill Babis of 70 Park Avenue said the most outrageous things stolen from the chic hotel were the thermostats.

So the next time you're tempted to slip a little keepsake from the hotel into your suitcase you might want to ask yourself if it's really a freebie or if you'll end up paying more for it than if you had bought it at a store.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unusual Uses For Digital Cameras

To correspond with my June Jubilee participation at Coffee Time Romance
and in particular my notes at the Photography topic of the Special Interests section of their forums
I want to continue with that photography theme here...sort of.

I came across a list of unusual uses for digital cameras that I'd like to share with you this week.  In a pinch, you can use your digital camera for the following:

1) Flashlight: Turn on your digital camera and the screen makes a decent light source if you're suddenly trapped in the dark and need to find your way out.

2) Insurance Record Backup: Take pictures, including close-ups, of individual items. With your digital camera, you'll know immediately if you have a viable picture that will identify the item in case of theft or as proof of ownership in case of disaster such as fire. Be sure to keep copies of the pictures some place other than your house so they won't be destroyed should that disaster hit.

3) Mini License Plate: Take a picture of your vehicle license plate, print it and trim to fit in your wallet or purse. You'll never need to make a trip back to your car to check the license number when registering at a motel

4) Passport and Business Card Photos: Take your own photos to use. It's free!

5) Clip Art: Be your own stock photo source. Take your own pictures to use in presentations, blogs, and many other uses. The picture at the top of this blog is one I took of my digital camera using my other digital camera about five minutes before I posted this here.

6) House Buying/Renting: It's hard to keep track of all the details and keep them straight when you tour several properties. Which property had that terrific kitchen pantry and which one had the fireplace in the master bedroom suite? If you take a picture of the house from the street following by a room-by-room tour of the interior, you'll be able to keep it straight.

7) In A Car Crash: You'll definitely want pictures from all angles of all vehicles involved including the vehicle license plates to back up your insurance claim and protect yourself from bogus claims.

8) Foreign Travel: You don't speak the language and aren't sure how to pronounce the name of that hotel or the name of the street. Take a picture of the front of the hotel with the sign showing the name, and a picture of the street sign. You'll be able to turn on your camera and show the picture on the screen to your cab driver or wherever you're asking for directions.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You can do all of that with your cell phone which you always have with you and you might not have a digital camera in your possession at the time. Well…you're right! Whether the digital camera is part of your cell phone or a stand alone item, it's still the immediacy of the digital world.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Internet Will Fail--and 8 other predictions that didn't come true

That bold prediction was made by astronomer Clifford Stoll. He was quoted in a 1995 Newsweek story, "The truth is, no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher, and no computer network will change the way government works."

Here we are, fifteen years later, and the newspaper industry is dying, people can earn college degrees online from accredited universities, and we can easily find information on anyone who has ever had their fifteen minutes of fame.

Lots of people make predictions, many of whom are considered experts in their field. And you have well-known prognosticators such as Nostradamus. Five hundred years later people are still referring to his predictions and debating the validity of the interpretations of his quatrains. And much more recently, there's the twentieth century offerings of Edgar Casey, among others.

Here's a list of eight bold predictions that failed miserably.

1) "Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite 'The Iliad.'" – Science fiction writer and journalist Bruce Sterling.

Despite criticism, Twitter has proven itself to many thanks to its roles in breaking news and helping organize massive protests in Iran.

2) "For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few…on the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper." – Founder of early computer magazine ROM, Erik Sandberg-Diment as reported by the New York Times in 1985.

And today people are using portable computer devices at the beach and on a train to while away hours, many of whom are checking on sports scores and the stock market.

3) "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." – Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

Obviously, not everyone agreed with Steve Jobs' vision about the device that has become a cultural icon in a few short years.

4) "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." – Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles in 1962. And Dick Rowe, the Decca recording executive who made that fateful prediction, went on to say, "The Beatles have no future in show business."

And as they say, the rest is history! The Beatles went on to release nineteen albums in seven years and sold approximately 140 million copies and I don't even want to guess how many singles. To give Dick Rowe credit for learning from his mistakes, he did sign the Rolling Stones and Van Morrison.

5) "TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't time for it." – author unknown, quoted in The New York Times in 1939.

It's very easy to take cheap shots at television, especially with some of the truly low-brow programming that's out there. We've been told television rots our brains and turns our children on to sex and violence. But to consider it a fad that will fade away? And to add another television prediction: "I will believe in the 500-channel world only when I see it." – Viacom and CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone in a 1994 speech to the National Press Club.

6) "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" – RCA response to David Sarnoff's pitch for investment in radio.

RCA rebuffed Sarnoff's vision in the 1920s, and he went on to found NBC and became one of the most influential executives in radio and television in a career that spanned fifty years. After a few years, RCA did finally get it and jumped on the band wagon.

7) "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." – Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria in 1873.

We've come a long way, baby. Today heart surgery, organ transplant, and neurosurgery are common occurrences.

8) "Printed books will never be the equivalent of handwritten codices, especially since printed books are often deficient in spelling and appearance." – 15th century monk, Trithemius, wrote in his treatise "In Praise Of Copying"

And aren't we all glad his prediction fell flat? Printed books, and now eReaders (see item #2) are certainly an integral part of our world.

Have any of you come across any predictions that totally and completely bombed?