I want to begin this post with a special thank you to my fellows ER authors for helping me out of a recent pinch. (Joe Cocker sings better than I do.)
Having been under my tightest deadline ever (only 90 days to write an entire full length novel), I’ve been feeling very stressed. Over the past few weeks I’ve pushed many things aside in order to concentrate fully on my WIP. One of these was a raffle basket I promised to contribute for the upcoming Romance Novel Convention. (July 9-13 in Las Vegas).
A while ago, I received a request from the organizers of IND’ Tale Magazine’s RONE Awards asking if I would like to contribute a “fun and whimsical” basket to be raffled at the RNC. Since I’m attending the convention and have two books that finaled for RONE Awards, (The Sheik Retold and Treacherous Temptations) of course I said I’d be delighted. I then put this on my mental to-do list and went along my merry way.
Fast forward to June 21…
Although I’m not a procrastinator by nature, I put off doing anything on my basket (the WIP is now due to my publisher in three days) until getting a gentle reminder that all baskets needed to arrive in Las Vegas before July 1. Oops! Where did all the time go?? With the clock ticking, I realized it was time to get it together and packed off to the UPS store.
For the first time, I started thinking about my basket. My current swag inventory includes print books, post cards with download codes, t-shirts, and a few logo messenger bags. All good stuff but not very “fun or whimsical”.
I then thought about using a book-related theme. Perfect! That’s what I’ll do! Since Treacherous Temptations is set in the 18th century, I ruled that one out as too challenging, opting instead to use The Sheik Retold. With its exotic desert setting, I thought this would be a great basket theme. Fantastic! I’ll do a desert survival kit! But after racking my brain for hours, all I could come up with was bottled water and sun screen. Ugh! I truly suck at this kind of thing!
Growing more desperate…
Since my WIP is the third book in a contemporary cowboy series, I then thought I should try a Western theme. Easy-peasy right? I thought so at first but still came up empty-headed.
Time to call the E.R. cavalry…
Nearing a panic, attack I sent an SOS email to my fabulous cohorts of Embracing Romance. Within minutes, my cry for help was answered by a number of people who offered some wonderful suggestions for my basket. Yay! I can breathe again!
A cowgirl on a mission…
Finally inspired, I went out perusing the aisles of three different stores looking for anything Western related. I filled my cart with whatever struck my fancy, but (similar to how my stories happen) it was only after I got home and unpacked the bags that my true theme finally emerged:
VICTORIA VANE’S COWBOY SEDUCTION KIT:
A final word about the Spam…
Although it may not seem very sexy, Spam was a critical element in the romance between Nikki and Wade in my upcoming book, Slow Hand (available now for pre-order). Here’s a short excerpt I hope you will enjoy…
EXCERPT- SLOW HAND by Victoria Vane
“I though you said you’d camped out before.”
“Well yeah, I did. Sort of,” she confessed with a pang of guilt. “I once spent a week at a Girl Scout camp on Lake Lanier.”
“Now you tell me? This ain’t the Girl Scouts.”
“I didn’t want you to leave me behind.”
“Well sweetheart, you’re stuck here now whether you like it or not. You’d best stay inside until I get back. I’ll take the rifle in case I get attacked by a horny elk…or find something better to eat than the spam or jerky that’s probably in those packs.” He left her with a grin stretching his mouth and the rifle propped on his left shoulder.
Unfortunately, Wade hadn’t exaggerated the cabin’s lack of amenities, the jerky, or the spam. The structure was small, a single room with only a rudimentary kitchen with a wooden cupboard for food and dishes, and a small wood-burning stove. The furnishings were the bare basics as well, a roughhewn wooden table, two bench seats, and two cots. Clearly, the place was never intended to be recreational.
She found the artesian spring and filled a couple of buckets. There was already a small stack of wood beside the stove, enough to start a cooking fire, but not enough to burn through the night. She found matches and gathered enough kindling to get it started. To her immense satisfaction, she had a nice blaze going before Wade returned.
As for food, Nikki had searched the cupboards for anything palatable to complement the dried and canned meats she’d found in the saddle bags but only discovered such gastronomic delights as expired biscuit mix, pinto beans, and Vienna sausages—not exactly the makings of a banquet— but enough to survive on, she supposed. Before she’d completely despaired, however, she found two cans of cling peaches and a half bottle of Jack Daniels.
“Your poison?” she asked when Wade came back in with an armload of wood.
“No.” He glanced away. “I don’t touch the stuff. Must be Dirk’s. He spends more time up here than I do.”
“Alone?” Nikki asked.
“Yeah. He disappears every now and then. You can always tell when the walls are closing in and he has to get away. Enough about my brother.” He dropped his hat on the table and came up behind her sniffing the air. “What have we got to eat?”
She laughed. “Are you really sure you want to know?”
His brows kicked up in question.
“There seems to be a surprising a variety of cuisine choices.” She elaborated. “We have Spam Classic, of course, but if you care for a bit of Cajun cuisine there’s Spam Hot & Spicy with Tabasco, or if Tex-Mex better suits your palate, we even have Spam Jalapeño.”
She tossed the three cans at him with a grimace.
“Have you ever eaten it?” he asked.
“Spam? Are you kidding me?”
“Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Billions of cans have sold worldwide. It’s even considered a delicacy in Asia.” His mouth formed that cocky heart-stopping grin that made her idiot pulse speed up.
“I’ll stick with the peaches, thank you kindly.”
“Peaches?” He cocked his head. “I never tried peaches with spam before.”
“The peaches are mine, Wade.” She clutched the two cans tightly to her chest.
His grin faded. “You don’t intend to share?”
He set the spam on the table and advanced slowly toward her, circling with a dangerous look, one that reminded her of the wolves that very likely sat right outside the door. She shook her head and hugged them even tighter, licking her lips with growing anticipation.
“I don’t think so, Wade. Finders keepers and all that.”
“Come now,” he cajoled in a honeyed voice. “I’m mighty fond of peaches.”
She found her back to the wall with his forearms pinned on either side of her head, his body looming over her all big and hard. She breathed him in with a sense of fullness in her chest. He smelled faintly of horse and leather…and something else that made her go tingly all over.
He just stood there looking down at her, his gaze sliding slowly down her body, making her skin prickle in its wake. Every nerve ending suddenly sounded an alarm. She knew she’d only egged him on. Was he going to make another move?
He dipped his head to murmur darkly in her ear. “As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything I love better than sucking on a ripe, juicy peach.”
ROMANTIC PURSUIT QUESTION:
What is Wade Knowlton’s profession?