Friday, February 24, 2017

Aloha to Gwen Hernandez and BLINDSIDED

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It is my pleasure to welcome my fellow military spouse Gwen Hernandez. From her website (link),

Looking for an escape? Need help figuring out Scrivener? I can help with both.

Writing romantic suspense keeps me fully engaged with research, solving plot puzzles, and figuring out my characters. My books and classes on Scrivener and other tech tools for writers feed my inner geek and my desire to teach and help others. I love to engage with readers and students by answering questions, interacting on social media, and meeting in person at workshops and conferences.

When my work involves learning new things, solving problems, helping others, and digging into new technology, I’m in my element. I crave a constant mental challenge, which is probably why I was a systems analyst, business instructor, and manufacturing engineer before I started writing seriously.

I have wandering feet, and travel is in my soul. Luckily I married an Air Force engineer (recently retired) who feels the same way. We have two of the world’s best college kids and the world’s laziest golden retriever.

When not writing, teaching, or traveling, I’m usually jogging, practicing yoga or kung fu, reading, or hanging out with my family. We moved to Sacramento in June 2016, and we’re having fun exploring northern California.


Tower Bridge in Sacramento, CA
Public Domain (link)

I asked Gwen a few questions ... because I am so nosy:

Kim: What was your favorite assignment and why?

Gwen:  This is a tough one, because I love exploring, and there’s something to enjoy about every place. But, overall, northern Virginia/DC area was probably my favorite. There’s so much to do in the area, it’s very international and diverse, our kids had great schools, and the four seasons are all pretty bearable. And it’s so pretty! You can go from the museums and monuments on the National Mall to Great Falls Park on the Potomac in under 30 minutes. Plus, as a girl who grew up out west and overseas, being close to so many of our nation’s formative historical sites was surreal and amazing. (Boston was great for that too.)

Kim:  What was the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of being a military spouse?

Gwen: The greatest reward by far is getting to see so much of the country. Not just visiting, but living in places I otherwise never would have, and then being able to take my time exploring those areas. You learn what’s the same about people everywhere, and what makes regions unique. I love getting that inside view. I’m an explorer and nomad at heart, so the military lifestyle suits me well. Having a husband who also loves traveling—and is awesome in so many other ways—makes the challenges worth it.

The biggest challenge for me was career instability. Until I started writing and training, I couldn’t take my work with me, so it was tough to get into a job as a programmer or manufacturing engineer knowing I’d never move up at the company because we’d be leaving in a few years. We were lucky enough to only have one six-month deployment, a few extended separations for training, and some jobs with frequent travel in my husband’s twenty-year career. Long and frequent deployments are a hardship for a lot of military families, and my hat is off to those spouses who can put up with the ops tempo many of our troops have had since 2003.

Kim:  What have your learned (or seen) since moving to California?

Gwen: Hmm. I’ve lived in California several times before, but Sacramento is new to me. And this little big city is far more interesting than most people give it credit for. Living here has confirmed for me that I’m much happier with a cool-but-mild winter. Coming off two years in Boston, I had little doubt, but I definitely didn’t miss walking my dog in single-digit temps, or digging out from under two feet of snow!

Since June, we’ve explored Redding and nearby Whiskeytown Lake, Mount Shasta, Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz (one of my favorite CA cities, maybe tied with Pismo Beach). My list of future daylong and weekend trips is very, very long. ;-)

Mahalo for hosting me today, Kim!!

Pismo Beach
Public Domain (link)

Gwen is celebrating the release of BLINDSIDE, Book 3 in her Men of Steel series:

SHE’S RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Framed for espionage, reformed hacker Valerie Sanchez has no choice but to run. Worse, when the proof of her innocence is destroyed, things turn deadly. Can she trust the sexy terrorist hunter who mysteriously turns up to protect her, or is he the real threat?

HE’S HOT ON HER TRAIL
Former Marine sniper Scott Kramer’s job was supposed to be easy. Follow the hot computer geek who stole plans for classified weapons until she meets her buyer, then let law enforcement take over. But when Valerie becomes an assassin's target, Scott's gut says she’s innocent. Now, he must risk his life—and his heart—to keep her safe.

Seagull at La Jolla Beach

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about California!  I loved visiting San Diego last summer for the RWA Annual Conference.  You can check out pictures on my travel blog, Aloha On My Mind - search for San Diego at this link

2. Comments are open through Sunday, February 26, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Books 1 and 2 in the series 



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Aloha to Kenneth Branagh in WALLANDER (Another BBC Drama) - TV Review


The hits keep coming from BBC .... my local PBS station is currently broadcasting WALLANDER. From PBS.com (link),

Sir Kenneth Branagh, screenwriter, director, and one of the UK’s most remarkable actors, portrays the soul-searching Swedish cop Inspector Kurt Wallander in Wallander, based on the international bestsellers by father of the Nordic Noir genre, Henning Mankell. At odds with his family, friends, and fellow police, Wallander is in his element with serial killers and psychopaths, tracking them across the seaside town of Ystad and the stark farm country of southern Sweden.

The twist - the English speaking drama is filmed in Sweden. The landscape is gorgeous but cold. The producers are not afraid to showcase the (fictional) dark side of this Scandinavian country, including clashes with immigrants. Branagh is also not afraid to show his age - gray hair and sagging body - as his character grapples with failed relationships.  Branagh tackles Wallander with the same passion as he performed Shakespeare in the award winning HENRY V (1989) AND HAMLET (1986).


I enjoyed Branagh with his then spouse Emma Thompson in the time traveling film noir DEAD AGAIN in 1991.


WALLANDER requires the viewer to pay attention from the very start.  Even though it is filmed in English, the British actors immerse themselves in Swedish culture ... and find themselves entangled in an ugly murder.  Wallander finds no reprieve off duty as the murders are often connected to his personal life.  Last week's THE WHITE LIONESS (No. 10) offered some hope to Wallander as he came full circle in solving the murder and helping an unexpected victim. 

Like most BBC dramas, just as I found myself mesmerized by the series, I learn that I only have 12 episodes to watch (3 episodes in four series).  The one bright spot in the limited run - Tom Hiddleston starred as Wallander's protege in the first six episodes.


I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Sweden is home of the Vikings, Ikea, and delicious meatballs. Can you recommend a Viking Romance?  I loved Johanna Lindsey's UNTIL FOREVER with a time traveling Viking. 

2. Comments are open through Sunday, February 26, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Monday, February 20, 2017

On this day in history .... WWII's First Flying Ace

Butch O'Hare.jpg
Notice the five Japanese flags on his aircraft,
making Lt O'Hare an "ace".
Public Domain (link)

We have winners at SOS Aloha - Kim H., Susan P., and Carol L. win a book choice from my convention stash.  

Our country is also a winner .... on this day in 1942, Navy Lieutenant Edward "Butch" O'Hare became WWII's first flying ace.  From AcePilots.com (link).

On February 20, 1942, Butch O'Hare demonstrated in real life, and when it counted most, the fighting skills he had mastered. The carrier Lexington had been assigned the dangerous task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland.

Unfortunately, while still 400 miles from Rabaul, the Lexington was discovered by a giant four-engine Kawanishi flying boat .... nine more Japanese bombers were reported on the way. Six Wildcats, one of them piloted by Butch O'Hare, roared off the Lexington's deck to stop them. O'Hare and his wingman spotted the V formation of bombers first and dived to try to head them off. The other F4F pilots were too far away to reach most of the enemy planes before they released their bombs. As if this weren't bad enough, O'Hare's wingman discovered his guns were jammed. He was forced to turn away. Butch O'Hare stood alone between the Lexington and the bombers.


One by one he attacked the oncoming bombers until five had been downed. It was an amazing example of daring and shooting skill. (O'Hare saved the Lexington and) was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and awarded the highest decoration of his country, the Congressional Medal of Honor.


Lt O'Hare received the Medal of Honor
from President Roosevelt
Public Domain (link)

Today, millions of flyers transit O'Hare Airport, probably unaware of the man for whom the airport was named. 

Now you know.

Have you been to O'Hare? Do you read the plaques in the airports to learn about the history? One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Sunday, February 19, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Aloha to Beach Blanket Bingo, Julia Day, and THE POSSIBILITY OF SOMEWHERE



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Oh, the possibilities!   Who doesn't love the beach, especially in winter!  Kim Rocha and I are hosting a Beach Blanket Bingo at the upcoming RT Booklovers' Convention in Atlanta (link):

Join Annette Funicello (Kim Rocha) & Frankie Avalon (Kim Lowe) for a special edition of Book Cover Bingo. Expect spontaneous singing, dancing, & flirting with lifeguards inspired by the beloved 60s film. Readers will join sun loving authors at their favorite beaches and compete for the book laden gift baskets ... perfect for the sand and surf!

I invited Julia Day to be part of the escapades .... from her bio (link):


Julia Day was born in Tennessee, raised in Mississippi, and now calls North Carolina her home. She has two twenty-something daughters, one old husband, and too many computers to count. When she’s not writing stories or software, she’s traveling to distant places or watching dance reality shows on TV.

The Possibility of Somewhere is Julia’s first YA contemporary romance. She also writes YA paranormal as Elizabeth Langston.

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Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted-- he's admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There's only one obstacle in Ash's path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden's ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college -- and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream -- one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?


Julia's favorite beach is Emerald Isle, North Carolina:

The tranquil resort and residential community of Emerald Isle, North Carolina, is located about halfway between the states of South Carolina and Virginia. Emerald Isle is located on the western end of the Southern Outer Banks Island called Bogue Banks. Bogue Banks Island is 30 miles long, with Atlantic Beach at the easternmost end, Salter Path and Indian Beach in the center and Emerald Isle on the westernmost end. Emerald Isle’s reputation as a “Family Beach” is well deserved and continues year after year to lure families looking for a peaceful ocean holiday to remember!
 

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. What is your favorite "gem" - emeralds? rubies? diamonds? I like 'em all!

2. Comments are open through Sunday, February 19, 10 pm in Baltimore. 

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 


Marilyn loves diamonds ...


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Aloha to Ruth Saberton and THE ISLAND LEGACY

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I have shared my guilty pleasures of watching BBC dramas broadcast on PBS in the UK, including THE CORONER set in Devon and Cornwall (link).  It is then fate that I recently discovered British author Ruth Saberton who happens to live in and write about Cornwall.  From her website,

Although I was born in London I’m now lucky enough to live in Cornwall. It’s a beautiful part of the world and a constant source of inspiration for my writing. The weather is ever changing and it’s the perfect setting for novels.

I have been lucky enough to write for Little Black Dress, Avon, Pan Macmillan and Orion and Harper Collins. I am also published by the brilliant Notting Hill Press. In 2011 I was a runner up in the Romantic Novelists Association’s “Romantic Comedy Novel” of the year award. That was such an exciting experience! I now write full time and I love every minute. This is the most exciting time ever to be an author.

When I’m not writing for I like to ride my horses, meet my friends for a walk or spend time hanging out with my partner. We also have lots of lovely restaurants here in Polperro so I am never short of a place to meet someone for a drink or a meal. I also love to talk to my readers so pop over to my Facebook author page or my Twitter @ruthsaberton or email me at admin@ruthsaberton.com.

Check out these articles about Ruth Saberton in the Daily Mail (link) and Cornwall Live (link).

An image posted by the author.

I am looking forward to reading Ruth's latest novel, THE ISLAND LEGACY:

When Ness Penwellyn unexpectedly inherits a Cornish island she soon meets property developer, Max Reynard. Wealthy and wickedly handsome, Max is accustomed to getting his own way but Ness is unimpressed. Max’s assumption she’ll sell her inheritance to him makes Ness determined to go it alone – even while her bitter relatives plot revenge and circumstances spiral out of control.

Max Reynard is a rich and powerful playboy. Used to having his own way, in business and in love, he’s shocked to meet a woman able to resist his money and good looks. And when he realises he wants Ness more than he wants her property, Max knows he’s in big trouble.

Before long Ness and Max are locked in a battle of wills. And when love’s involved, the rules of engagement are soon broken …

St. Michael's Mount off the Cornish Coast (link)

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about an island - do you have a favorite?  Of course, the Hawaiian islands are my favorite ... but I also enjoyed Mont St. Michel - the equivalent of St. Michael's Mount in France. Both are tidal islands - low tide reveals the causeway for tourists to visit them.  

2. Comments are open through Sunday, February 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Mont St Michel in Normandy
Public Domain (link)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Aloha to Weekly Winners, Janna MacGregor, and THE BAD LUCK BRIDE


Image result for aloha on my mind bellows beach

We have winners at SOS Aloha -  Karen T. and Patty B. win a book choice from my convention stash. 

I keep thinking about the RT Booklovers Convention to get me through the cold winter's night.  RT descends upon Hotlanta in early May ... I am cohosting BEACH BLANKET BINGO with Kim Rocha from Book Obsessed Chicks (link):

Join Annette Funicello (Kim Rocha) & Frankie Avalon (Kim Lowe) for a special edition of Book Cover Bingo. Expect spontaneous singing, dancing, & flirting with lifeguards inspired by the beloved 60s film. Readers will join sun loving authors at their favorite beaches and compete for the book laden gift baskets ... perfect for the sand and surf!


I am looking forward to meeting debut Historical Romance author Janna MacGregor:

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers.

Visit her at JannaMacGregor.com.
Twitter: @JannaMacGregor
Facebook: Janna MacGregor
Sign up for her newsletter at JannaMacGregor.com.

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Janna's debut romance, THE BAD LUCK BRIDE, is coming May 2 - one day before BEACH BLANKET BINGO:

IS MARRIAGE A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed he needs to convince his enemy's fiancee, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire's curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?

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Wilton House - Ancestral home for the Earl of Pembrooke
Image by Mike Serle (link)

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about luck - do you have a lucky charm?  I have Lucky the cat!

2. Comments are open through Sunday, February 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Image result for aloha on my mind lucky cat


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Aloha to Blue and Gold - Happy 107th Birthday, Boy Scouts of America!


On this day in 1910, William D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America. From the Boy Scout handbook, 

"Do a Good Turn Daily" is the Scout Slogan.

One Day in 1909 in London, England, an American visitor, William D. Boyce, lost his way in a dense fog. He Stopped under a street lamp and tried to figure out where he was. A boy approached him and asked if he could be of help.

"You certainly can," said Boyce. He told the boy that he wanted to find a certain business office in the center of the city.

"I'll take you there," said the boy.

When they got to the destination, Mr. Boyce reached into his pocket for a tip. But the boy stopped him.

"No thank you, sir. I am a Scout. I won't take anything for helping."

"A Scout? And what might that be?" asked Boyce.

The boy told the American about himself and his brother Scouts. Boyce became very interested. After finishing his errand, he had the boy take him to the British Scouting office.

At the office, Boyce met Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the famous British general who had founded the Scouting movement in Great Britain. Boyce was so impressed with what he learned that he decided to bring Scouting home with him.

On February 8, 1910, Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America. From that day forth, Scouts have celebrated February 8 as the birthday of Scouting in the United States.

What happened to the boy who helped Mr. Boyce find his way in the fog? No one knows. He had neither asked for money nor given his name, but he will never be forgotten. His Good Turn helped bring the Scouting movement to our country.

In the British Scout Training Center at Gilwell Park, England, Scouts from the United States erected a statue of an American buffalo in honor of this unknown Scout. One Good Turn to oneman became a Good Turn to millions of American boys. Such is the power of a Good Turn.


My oldest son is an Eagle Scout. My youngest son is a Life Scout preparing for his Eagle Project. Scout has been good to (and good for) both my children. I recognize that Scouts - Boy and Girl - have endured scandals and controversies over the years. But the very heart of the programs is to train children to be good citizens.

Do you know any Scouts - Boy or Girl - in your family, among your friends, or in your community? I was a Girl Scout and Explorer (which became Venture Crew). One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Sunday, February 12, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Monday, February 13.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City