Snarky Sunday: I Get No Respect

The other day, I overheard someone say, “You get up at 4am every morning to go to the gym? I’m impressed.”

Seriously? Lots of people get up that early to go to the gym. I mean, gyms are open at that hour. Right? People must go or else the places wouldn’t be open. What’s so flippin’ impressive about that?

Image credit: andrejad / 123RF Stock Photo

Frequently, I am up at 4am . . . to write. Books. And to conduct the business related to those books. But that’s not impressive.

Someone who writes a non-fiction lifestyle essay that gets included in an anthology and goes on Good Morning, America impresses people. Creating whole universes from the landscape of the mind makes me weird.

A contributor to Business Insider tried an experiment a few years ago. He got up at 4:30am for 21 weekdays. Hey! You want a medal or a chest to pin it on? You’re a single guy. No obligations. You probably never worked a Day Job in your life. Not everyone has those luxuries. Nor do we get to decide to go to bed an hour or so earlier just because we’re up earlier.

I may get no respect, but you know what? I create magic. Try that at the gym.




National Wine Day with Author Claire Gem

The Character of Grapes

And no, we’re not talking Gilbert Grape here….

Wine is one of my favorite fruits. No, really. If given the choice between orange, cranberry, or apple juice, I’ll take grape. The fermented kind. Unless the orange juice is diluted with champagne, or the cranberry has a splash of vodka.

In my novels, most of my characters drink alcoholic beverages. It makes them real. I’m sure there are lots of folks who won’t touch the stuff, but I grew up in an Italian family. So having my characters enjoy a libation, particularly a glass of wine, makes them real to me. On Sundays, my father used to slice fresh peaches and soak them in Chianti. That was our after-the-big-pasta-dinner dessert.

Even when I was six years old. Took a hell of nap on Sunday afternoons.

But if I had to say what kind of wine my characters would be, well, that raises an entirely new set of questions. Wines, like people, come from different families (of grape), and each has its own unique characteristics. Just like my characters.

Let’s start with Chianti, since that was my initial introduction to the world of wine. Chianti is a classic, dry red wine named after the region where it is made: Tuscany, Italy. This area produces the Sangiovese grapes – deep purple, almost black fruit. The wine is dark, rich, and earthy. Being high in tannins (which dries your mouth out) and acidic, it goes well with food – a natural choice for food-loving Italians.

If the hero in my new release, Marco Lareci, were a wine, he would definitely be a Chianti. Italian, rich, and dark. But instead of drying your mouth out, he might be more inclined to make it water.

My heroine, Kate Bardach prefers drinking Pinot Grigio, the Italian version of what the French call Pinot Gris. These wines, although pale yellow itself, come from grapes that range from brownish-pink to grayish-blue in color. Pinot Gris actually means “gray grape,” and is a sweeter, fruitier wine than its Italian cousin, Pinot Grigio. Kate is definitely not fruity and sweet, which is, I guess, why she prefers Pinot Grigio, the dryer, more acidic, Italian version of this varietal.

And ah, are we surprised Kate prefers Italian wine to French? Not once we see her reaction to dark-haired, sexy Marco.

So, if the characters of Hearts Unloched appeared on a wine list, they would be under entirely different sections: Robust Reds and Semi-Dry Whites. Would you prefer a glass of Marco Lareci to go with that lasagna? Or may I suggest a carafe of Kate Bardach to accompany your chicken piccata?

Opposites, right? Perhaps. But as we all know, opposites attract. Cheers!

About the book:


A psychic interior designer reluctantly agrees to renovate a sexy investor’s abandoned hotel on a lake rumored to have once been the mob’s body dumping ground.

Interior designer Kate Bardach loves her single girl’s lifestyle—living in Manhattan and spending weekends at her lake house. She’s passionate about her career, reinventing old buildings. But there are some projects she can’t take on because of the spirits trapped there. Kate is psychic—she sees dead people.

Marco Lareci is one of Wall Street’s most successful investment brokers who’s achieved all of his life’s goals—except for finding his soulmate.  His latest project, an abandoned resort on Loch Sheldrake, needs a savvy designer to transform the crumbling complex into a boutique hotel. When Marco meets Kate, he can’t believe his luck. She’s the perfect match for his business and his heart.

Marco’s body excites Kate even more than does his renovation project. But the haunting there, a bonafide poltergeist, affects her on an intensely personal level. Kate’s aunt disappeared from the place fifty years ago.

Will the spirit doom Kate and Marco’s love, or drive them closer together?

Video Clip

Book Trailer

Amazon Link

About the author:


Claire Gem writes intensely emotional romantic novels. Her vision is to transport her readers into another place and time, creating characters so real, readers miss them when the book is closed.

Always fascinated by the paranormal, she holds a Certificate in Paranormal Studies from Duke University’s Rhine’s Research Center. When she ran out of paranormal romance novels to read, she decided to start writing her own.

Claire also writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction under the Claire Gem Contemporary line. If you are looking for an intensely romantic novel, with or without ghosts or paranormal elements, you’ll love Claire Gem.





Amazon Author Page




Purse Project: Kim Hotzon

What a fun idea! Thanks, MJ for having me here today, sharing the contents of my purse.

This is my current purse— a basic, brown tote from RW & Co.

kim hotzen purse

I tend to switch my purse every 3 or 4 months, depending on my mood, outfit, whether I’m travelling, etc. I favor tote bags because they carry lots of stuff!

I’m pretty good at reducing clutter on a regular basis, shredding receipts, throwing away wrappers, etc. I keep the essentials, things I need.

What’s inside:

kim hotzen purse contents

  • silk scarf (essential for travel and windy days)
  • keys
  • flashlight (you never know when you might need it)
  • Dentyne gum
  • mints
  • Clinique lip gloss and YSL lipstick
  • L’Occitane hand cream
  • sunglasses
  • Kindle
  • I-Pad
  • FlowerBomb perfume
  • Hair elastic
  • African bracelet (from my trip)
  • OPI nail polish for touch-ups
  • Phone and I-Pad chargers (always handy)
  • pens (always two in case one runs out)
  • postcards for my design business (my author business cards have been used and more are coming but they’re great for handing out)
  • a copy of my first book with a matching tote bag (there’s always an opportunity for marketing)
  • change purse
  • magnetized wallet
  • my favorite Eiffel tower keychain which keeps falling off

Things often found in my bag but not today:

  • granola bars
  • water bottle
  • sunblock
  • Band-Aids
  • I-Phone (used to take the picture)

My newest release, A Time For Love In Paris is now available!

kim hotzen cover

In 1975, Elise Sutherland, a young woman from Scotland, travels to Paris, France, to study art at the illustrious Fine Arts School of Paris. Stumbling upon a mysterious old book in the infamous Shakespeare & Company bookstore, her world opens up an undiscovered realm. Elise finds herself in late nineteenth century Paris, becoming the muse of master painter and sculptor, Michel Flaubert. Together, they share their passion for art, architecture and each other.

But their love is threatened by people, time and events in history. Will they find their happily ever after?

Kim Hotzon

Born in beautiful British Columbia, Kim developed a passion for writing at an early age. Her interest in people led her all over the globe, including a two year stay in Japan and a humanitarian trip to Rwanda.

She loves to write contemporary romance stories that feature strong women who deal with compelling issues. Kim enjoys adding unexpected twists, usually involving a dangerous and dramatic backdrop. Her first novel, Hands Full of Ashes, was inspired by her trip to Africa. Her second full-length novel, A Time for Love in Paris, was inspired, naturally, by her trip to Paris. Kim also wrote a short, contemporary romance story for the anthology, Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection, which became a top seller on Amazon Canada.

She currently resides in the sunny Okanagan of British Columbia with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found on the local ski hills in winter, or racing in dragon boats in the summer.

You can get in touch with Kim by visiting her website or follow her at:





Blood Pressure Awareness with Author Brynley Bush

May is National Blood Pressure month, and Roman Castile, the dark and dangerous heartthrob from The Power Games, is a prime candidate for high blood pressure.  When a person’s in a stressful situation, their body produces a surge of hormones which temporarily increases their blood pressure by causing their heart to beat faster and their blood vessels to narrow.  Although he’s young—not quite thirty—this successful internet entrepreneur has plenty of stress in his life.  Not only does he run his own company, but he’s a contestant on The Power Games, a sexy “Survivor Meets Hunger Games” reality show that’s designed to promote Club Helix, an over-the-top, no-expense-spared, sophisticated, BDSM-themed resort where guests can indulge their darkest fantasies in Sin City.
The competition to stay in the games is enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure, but Roman’s partner for the games, the reserved but beautiful Ava Summers, ups the ante.  Talk about causing a surge of hormones! The sparks fly when these two are together, and Roman wants nothing more than to break down Ava’s reserves and make her his.  But to win the title of the Club Helix Dom and sub and take home the one-million-dollar cash prize, Ava’s got to learn to trust Roman, and Roman has to break down the walls Ava’s erected around her emotions and earn her trust. 
Roman’s blood pressure won’t be going down anytime soon, because Ava’s hiding something.  She’s got ulterior motives for being on the show.  And she isn’t submissive.  But Roman won’t settle for anything less than all of the dark-haired beauty he’s starting to fall for. 
For the last two years, I’ve lived a life of lies and deceit.
Now I’m about to live the ultimate lie—pretending to be a submissive on a BDSM reality show to take down the man who stole everything from me.
Then I meet him.
A sadistic Dominant who gets his pleasure from my pain, he’s the only man who can help me.
But first I’ll have to give him everything.
The Power Games is available at Loose Id.
You can also purchase it a Amazon.
Brynley Bush has had a lifelong love affair with words.  She earned her degree in English and Creative Writing and wrote magazine feature stories for years before turning to writing fiction.  She writes the kind of books she likes to read: steamy contemporary romances featuring smart, sassy heroines with a sense of humor and strong, dominant alpha males who love their women a little feisty.  When she’s not writing, she loves to read, spend time with her family, and travel. 
Follow Brynley on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon

Tantalizing Trivia: Manhole Covers

Why are manhole covers round?

My brother mentioned he was once asked this question in a job interview, and the interviewer said my brother was the only person who ever knew the answer.

Come to find out, there are many answers:

  • A round manhole cover can’t fall through its circular opening
  • Round doesn’t need to be rotated until it fits the opening
  • Round can be rolled, so it’s easier to move
  • Round tubes are the strongest shape against the compression of the earth, so the cover needs to be round, too.

So if you’re ever asked this question in a job interview, rock it!