National Cookie Day

In honor of National Cookie Day, I’m going to tell you about the most erotic scene ever written in a book involving a cookie.


The book: Kill and Tell

The author: Linda Howard

The setting. New Orleans. A rainy summer night in the French Quarter. A balcony. Jazz in the background, enhancing the sultry tone. Bare feet. Red wine. Cookies.


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




Me Time

Lately I’ve felt overwhelmed. Too much to do and not enough time. Every day I murmur a prayer of thanksgiving because my children are grown and gone. If I were still doing the mom thing . . . I can’t even contemplate it.

It’s not all bad. I’m realizing my lifelong dream/ambition of being a published author. It’s the peripheral obligations that are getting me down.

One of my goals for this calendar year is a monthly date with myself. Too bad I haven’t had time to do that. I barely have time to get in a weekly session of yoga. My second quarter goal is to add another half hour of exercise into my week. But exercise isn’t me time. It’s a peripheral obligation that takes away from the writing time.

I’m in serious need of not only a date with myself, but some substantial me time.

  • I’d like to go to a baseball game.
  • I’d like to do some real cooking on the weekend.
  • I’d love to go to a movie with my husband.
  • I have several ideas for custom music mixes I’d like to work on.
  • Reading without guilt would be so nice!
  • I’d like to sip a glass of wine and relax when I get home from Day Job.

I would also like writing time. Writing is my dream. Something has to give.

Another one of my goals this year is “say no.” Don’t be surprised when you start hearing me say it more often.

SOL Sunday: #TastingNotesTuesday

Starting Tuesday, Jan 6, I’m going to be looking at the colorful descriptors used by wine reviewers and poking fun at some the ways they try to be original. I’m not saying the people in question don’t smell those aromas or taste those flavors when they preview a wine, but sometimes the examples they use are just plain silly.

And I’m doing it all on Twitter. You can follow me at @comptonplations.

Copyedits, Bad Wine, and Music

I received my second round of copyedits/revisions late last week, so that’s been my primary focus, although I have taken off time to watch two college basketball games (GO ORANGE!) and go on a date with my husband last night.

My niece is a chef at a pub, and that pub had an open mic night last night. My brother decided to play, and I haven’t heard him perform in years.  So TV Stevie and I went. The food was great, the wine list  needed an “H”, and nobody knows Dylan any more.

Back to copyedits tonight.