Friday, October 29, 2010

Adages and an Ebook Giveaway

Hi gang!

Today there are two parts to my post. The book giveaway is after the following.

Part One: Adages and a Crazy Game

I wrote a book once about sayings, and the main character wondered where they came from. Yesterday, I revisited a site I went to about the origin of sayings and it gave me an idea… Want to play a game? It’s called “Fill in the blanks”. Let’s try and create some really funny new sayings, just because we can, just because it’s childish and fun to be immature sometimes, and just…well, just because. You know, kind of like: What the hell. It’s insane to play this game, I really wouldn’t normally, but it’s Friday, for God’s sake, and I fancy being silly.

Or something.

Before the game, though, here are some interesting (I hope!) facts on adages, the originals on THIS SITE:

Getting out of the wrong side of bed

Apparently, this saying comes from way back when, when many children shared the one bed. When one got up, having to climb over all the others, it woke those still sleeping, causing them to be in a bad mood. I can agree with that. Imagine those poor little buggers being clambered over. Yes, I’d be pretty naffed off too. An elbow in the temple or a knee to the groin isn’t my idea of waking up happy.

To let the cat out of the bag

I like this one. Apparently, in medieval England, piglets were sold and given away in bags. Most probably sacks. Off you go to market, thinking, “I’m going to buy a little piggy today. I could fair do with a pork chop for my dinner!” only to get home and find a cat in it instead. Enraged, the next time you go to market, you check in the bag, make sure your little piggy is inside. If you see a cat again, that’s it! You’ve let the cat out of the bag. Love it!

On the wallaby

On the bloody what? I’ve never heard of this one, but many Australians might have. It refers to men from years ago who trekked through Australia looking for a job. It possibly means they jumped from town to town, much a like a wallaby, although that image leaves me a tad disturbed. I can’t imagine men holding their hands up together in front of their chests, fingers curved, and jumping around. Then again, I’m quite a literal person, possibly insane, so this image popping into my head doesn’t surprise me.

And now for the game! Fill in the blanks with as many words as you like to make a new adage:

All work and no play makes Jack __________

Good things come to those who __________

A problem shared is ___________

Practice makes _________

Part Two: Coming Out

Yesterday I “came out” as all the authors I am. As well as Natalie Dae, I’m m/m author Sarah Masters and psychological horror/thriller author Charley Oweson. It was a huge weight off my shoulders not having to hide myself anymore, and now I can relax knowing all my names are out there as one person. My real self, Emmy Ellis, was an editor and cover artist.

So, to celebrate the weight that fell and almost left a great gaping hole in the floor, I’m offering every single reader one of my Sarah or Charley books. I don’t give these books out for review, so to my mind, I have many books I could have sent out but haven’t, therefore, you can have them. If you want them…

All you have to do is go HERE and look through my titles at the top of my site. Sarah writes mainly series books, so if you choose one from a series, I’ll send you the first book of that series. A little note: the Blinded series is complete, but the last two titles aren’t published yet, but they will be very soon. Also, the complete sets of my series aren’t available yet, even though the covers are on my sidebar, hence me asking that you choose a book from the top of my site. :o)

Then, just email me at telling me which book you’d like.

That’s it!

Have a great day, folks! Oh, and make me laugh with your adage adaptions. Please?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Hero, The eReader

I was sharing this little story on a  group the othr day and I figured I'd share it here too.

For those who don't know, I have two teenage daughters (15, 17). Bot are good students, but they go about things differently. My oldest tends to wait until the last minute to do a project. My youngest does it the first day because she hates school and wants it done ASAP. lol

Anyway, on Sunday, Kati, my oldest, informed me that her AR test (advanced reading) was due on Monday and she still needed to find and read a book for it. Well, of course she does! *groaning* Students have to get at least 20 points or they don’t pass the AR test. Kati always passes, she LOVES to read. Still, she procrastinates. Her usual plan of attack is to find a book on the AR list worth at least 20 points. This way she doesn't have to read several smaller books. She'll sit down in the recliner on Sunday afternoon and spend the entire day reading.

However, this time she couldn't find any books in my boxes (I have tons of books!). So, I joined the search. She wanted a Dean Koontz book. I have quite a few, but could I find them? Of course not. We had already tried the store earlier that morning and nada. At this point we were starting to get desperate. Finally, my brain kicked in and I said, "You know, we could just download an ebook to my Sony eReader".
Not sure why I didn’t think of that to start with! I guess because I'm not used to the kids reading on my eReader.

Anyway, we popped online and found a Koontz book right off the bat. Kati did have to pull an all nighter to finish it because we had a birthday party to go to that evening and she didn't have time to read until it was already late. When Monday came Kati took the eReader to school with her so she could refresh her tired brain before the test. As you can imagine she aced the damn thing. LOL

And yet another use for these wonderful devices...saving kids’ grades everywhere!

On that same note, have you all seen the newest version of Nook? It's more expensive, but boy am I loving the looks of that thing!

 A few features (see more on their site):

  • Stunning 7-inch color touchscreen 
  • Magazines & newspapers in rich color
  • Kids' books come alive
  • Over 2 million titles at your fingertips
  • Get social, surf the web, play games, even listen to music

Originally I wanted the Kindle. Actually, I still do. I really like this newest Nook too, though. I'm thinking I should wait, because my guess is that Kindle will soon have their own color version with all these same fun features. And with any luck the prices will go down and that's when I'll pounce! LOL
In the meantime, I'll just stick with the Sony. :) 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How much closure is needed?

I finished a book this weekend (yay for me! LOL). It's the first book in a planned two book series. Book one tells one couples story and book two will be two of their friends. The friends play big roles in book one and you can definitely feel the tension between them. You know there is something going on, but at the end of book one, one of them is really hurt by something the other did. It wasn't anything intentional. Just a misunderstanding of sorts, but it left one of the characters feeling pretty broken hearted.

I sent the book to one of my readers and because she rocks like that, she already got the book back to me. She wasn't real sure about how I left things off with the secondary characters. Even though they will hopefully get a book of their own, she thought they needed some kind of closure in this book just so she, as a reader, knows things are kind of going to be okay with them. Not that they'll get together, but that the air is clear. Leaving things the way I did, she felt too bummed for the characters.

It got me thinking about how much closure we really need for secondary characters who will hopefully have their own book down the road. Do we need any at all? I know it's kind of a hard question since you don't know the details of the book, but how do you feel about a cliffie ending for secondary characters? Especially if they're friends who will possibly be more in the future. Does it set up the tension well for the next book, or just annoy you that you have to wait for any kind of reconciliation between them?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You've sold your first book...NOW WHAT?

I remember selling my first book and thinking...what now? Once I'd gotten past the thrill of it all, I knew it was time to think about promoting myself. But how? Nobody knew who the hell I was! No name recognition. No book out there in the cyber world. I was a big fat NOBODY. At the time I wasn't involved in any loops, I knew next to nothing about blogs, and I had no clue where new authors should advertise an upcoming release. I wasn't tech savvy (unless I counted my ability to punch the 'power' button on my computer). Really, it was pathetic how little I knew about things. Over the years, I've gotten plenty of advice...good and bad about promotion. I don't see myself as any kind of expert on the subject but here goes. The single most important thing you can do is to get yourself a nice website.

You've just sold your first book. What is the very first thing you need to do in the way of getting your name out there? A good website is a MUST HAVE investment. I know of many authors who weren't necessarily tech savvy who managed to figure out how to get a nice website up and running. Join some writers loops and ask around. Normally it's not too hard to get advice about this stuff and writers are the most generous people in the world. The main thing to keep in mind must look clean, professional, and capture the imagination. You are a writer aren't you? You are creative. Your website should reflect not only your books but say something about YOU and leave visitors with an impression that will hopefully stick in their minds.

Right away I realized I wasn't savvy enough to achieve the classy look I wanted for my site on my own. Rather than botch it up BIG TIME, I hired someone to do my site. I didn't ask around. I just leaped. Biiiiig mistake. Please, please talk to other writers about websites and do your research. Look at the sites of friends or authors you admire and see what they've done. Make notes about things you've seen that you want included on your new site. My first website ever was NOT what I wanted. I depended on people who didn't know much about the writing world or about how to sell both an author and her books. I spent a fortune on it before my first book ever released. Stick with website builders who understand what an author needs.

Want to hear a sad tale? I have one and it's a typical newbie mistake. I never, ever made enough money from the sales of my first book to come close to paying what I spent on this bad website. Sad, I know. The book is now placed elsewhere but that's a whole 'nother story. What I learned from this big 'money blowing experience' was to NOT overspend in the beginning. Ask around. Look at sites. Find someone to build your site who has know how about putting together something geared toward books and authors.

It took a bit of trial and error before I finally got the website I truly wanted and that reflected both me and my stories. It didn't cost a fortune either. I wanted something that was easy to navigate and that I could manage myself. Now, I'll be the first to admit, I haven't totally gotten the hang of my wordpress site but I can blog on it, I can add and take away things. I'm not completely at the mercy of a webmistress who may or may not have time to make the changes I need. Webmistresses charge a monthly fee. Keep that in mind. If you have monthly releases, lots and lots of additions on a regular basis, it is just sometimes better if you can do it yourself. You might be one of those busy authors who is simply more comfortable paying someone but your income from the sales of books should justify that expense. Others may find it more comfortable being 'captain of her own ship' and maintaining complete control of her website.

You don't want to spend yourself into the poorhouse with a website but you must also keep in mind that this is the place where fans, potential new readers, and industry professionals will look when they want to know more about you. A shoddy website is a turn off but you don't have to break the bank to have one that reflects your professional face. Keep it clean. Keep it classy. Keep it affordable.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Words For The Wise

I’ve been seeing a lot of something lately that I want to talk about this morning. An author on a group I belong to asked about this the other day, and I’ve seen countless authors doing this. It’s something that happens all through authorland and a lot of writers, mostly new to the game, never give it a second thought it seems. Even after a warning from someone who has been around a lot longer, they keep doing it.

Okay, cut to the chase Tess—enough damn warm-up already, will ya? I know that’s what you’re thinking. Hey, I’m a writer, I’ve got to capture your interest, don’t I? HA! So here it is: Authors posting full chapters of their works in progress, a complete summary/synopsis of their unpublished books, or the entire book itself. Even a blurb can be a bad idea.

When you do that, you’re just begging for someone to come along and steal your work and make it their next best seller, or the book that breaks them into the business. If you were a scientist, would you put your creative genius out there on display for everyone to see? All your chemical formulas that may be the next best thing since Jello? I think not.

What you write is YOUR creative genius. Guard it well.

You can’t steal a plot. Most authors know this. After all, there are only thirty-some odd plot points you’ve got to work with. However, it’s the combination of plot points---those sub plots and all the unique twists and turns you give your story that make it special. And that’s what sells your book. So does it make sense to give your imagination away?

Okay. Most of us are honest. I am. I’ve never stolen a thing in my life. Well, I take that back. I was with a group of friends way back when, and we’d been out bar-hopping. We were sitting in this late-night breakfast only restaurant, and for some odd reason the conversation turned to stealing. I’d never stolen anything. They were in awe. All of them had stolen something—there was a big group of us too—like a dozen. Their thievery ranged from cash from their parents' wallets to cash from their employers to actual shoplifting. Yeah, I know—I should find better friends. Lol Don’t worry, I did. But at the time I was still a little tipsy from all that fun we’d been having, and I left the restaurant with a set of salt 'n' pepper shakers. I know, I know. That was pitiful. And you know what? I NEVER went back to that restaurant. (The restaurant is still there to this day—all these years later—and every time I see it, my stomach knots—not lying. My guilt runs deep.)

Okay, enough about me.

As an editor I’m in tune with writing styles. For authors I’ve edited for, worked with, or read quite a bit of, I can spot their style a mile away. Good writers have a signature. It’s oftentimes very very subtle, but definitely something I can spot. Heck, I can sometimes read a book and just know for a fact that even though there is one pen name tied to the book, at least two authors were involved in the writing.

Not too long ago I read a book by an author I’d only read once before. Said author had switched up on her style in the second book I read. And that in itself is okay—nothing wrong with it. I have three writing styles/voices. It all depends on what tone I want to use for a book. But this author’s voice stood out to me as someone else’s voice. Not only that, I noted right many words and phrasing that were just too similar to that other author’s, and I was very put off by all of that. Mimicking the style of someone you know that is successful is done all the time. Works for some. But for me, you cross the line when you take words/phrasing from that author. Was it enough to say the author plagiarized? No. Just enough to let me know that the author WAS indeed “taking”. Sort of like that cheap little salt ‘n’ pepper set I stole that time.

There’s a publisher that sells books which brandish titles similar to NYTBS books and blockbuster movies. And if you read those books, you’ll quickly discover that the plotting is incredibly similar to those best-selling books and blockbuster movies too. I purchased one of those books a while back out of curiosity. E-book format, of course, and that was the only thing that kept me from throwing the book against the wall. Honestly. Sure, the characters had been changed and some thin thin thin disguising was used. But that story was nothing more than a rip-off of someone else’s creative genius.

I’ve had three authors complain to me in recent months that an idea of theirs was stolen. Again, you can’t steal a plot. You can’t steal a title either. You’re not breaking copyright laws in any way when you do this. In order to plagiarize you have to take another’s work and copy actual lines. But still, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you write about something and all of a sudden author Jane Doe comes up with the same story, doesn’t it?

You only hear about plagiarized work when it comes to big-name authors. But it happens a lot more than you’d think with the lesser knowns and those just starting out in the writing business. I honestly think that the Internet is responsible for more and more of this too. It’s easy to post a blog that gives away your story ideas. Easy to post a chapter or several. Easy to post a blurb or synopsis. There are workshops that ask you to post bits and pieces of your work. Critique groups that do the same. Groups where authors post the synopsis of their story—the beginning, middle, and end—in hopes of a publisher reading it and asking to see the manuscript. Ways to share our work are all around us for sure.

One author said to me: “Nobody wants to steal my work. I’m not that skilled.” Oh, I beg to differ and told the author that she might not have down all the bells and whistles of writing yet, but her story premise was solid—unique. That author listened and took down the overall summary of her work.

If you’re a new author and trying to blog and promote yourself, take a snippet of your work—a short scene or a few lines only and post them. Five hundred words or less—and I say do that ONLY if you’re hell bent on posting something. I’d never post anything. Instead, blog about the writing process, the people you meet online, about who you are and what you like to do. Don’t give away your characters, your storylines, your precious words. There are lots of ways to announce you’re an author without giving away something you hope to sell. Write a free short story and put that on your blog or website.

An author should also take into consideration that publishers aren’t too keen on having work published openly that is later submitted to them. If you post a huge chunk of your story online—and I’ve seen entire books published on sites, and then later submitted to publishers—your work has been previously published and the publisher has a right to know. Some of these writer websites where authors post their work to get feedback have right many views/hits. Those are sales a publisher won’t see. Sales YOU the author won’t see. Why buy the cow when you’ve already gotten the milk for free. Now this doesn’t mean, of course, that a publisher won’t consider a previously published work. Lots do. It’s a well-known fact that some books have low sales. But what I’m talking about here is when an author posts a story on a free site for readers, and then submits that same story to a publisher.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably never stop saying it. Writing is a business. Some may see it as a hobby, something they don’t really worry about or consider as a real career opportunity—if they get published they get published, and if they don’t, no worries. They write for the love of writing. But writing IS a business. And in business you have the good guys and the bad guys.

Protect your work. It’s an asset just as sure as the money you make with the day job—no different than that flat-screen TV you own. Your work has value and you should treat it like gold. Lock it up.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Guest Author: Elizabeth Black

What Are Your Favorite Paranormal Creatures
By Elizabeth Black

Halloween is my favorite season of the year. I have all my favorite decorations out such as my "Halloween" snow globe (from the movie), my "Scream" snow globe, my black cat on a pumpkin snow globe (okay so I like snow globes), my terra cotta pumpkins, candy corn candles, and haunted house tea light holder. Not to mention my Halloween towels and oven mitt. I buy this stuff every year the first week in November when all the Halloween stuff is 75% off. I found some real gems doing this.

So this brings me to what kinds of paranormals I think are going to be big over the next few years. Granted, the usual vamps, werewolves (and other shapeshifters) will always be popular but how about ghosts and zombies? Here's what I think of my favorite paranormal creatures:

Vampires – So Stephen King doesn't like Stephanie Meyers' sparkly vamps or the sexy vamps in the "True Blood" book series. Granted, he's a horror writer and he wants vamps to go back to being terrifying. I think he's both right and wrong. I like both horror and erotic romance and both have different kinds of vampires. You aren't likely to be sexually attracted to the vamp in "Salem's Lot" – and you're not supposed to be. I do not want to lip lock with Nosferatu! Disgusting! However, I find Eric in the "True Blood" books to be incredibly sexy in part because he's so repressed, just like the vamps tend to be in romance novels. All it takes is the right woman to open him right up and make him fall in love. I think vamps harken back to repressed Victorian sexuality and that theme remains very tantalizing these days. Yeah, they're walking corpses but sexy corpses, unlike the vamps you find in horror novels. Two different animals in my opinion. I grew up watching Hammer Films and I found Christopher Lee to be incredibly sexy (and deadly of course). I know some people think I'm out of my mind but that's how I felt. I was much more attracted to Peter Cushing but Lee had his sway over me. Just like Frank Langella did in the stage and movie versions of "Dracula". Plus the women are always sexy in Hammer Films. Those movies turned the guys on who enjoyed Yutte Stengaard, Ingrid Pitt, and Kate O'Mara.

Werewolves – I never found werewolves particularly sexy until I wrote "Feral Heat". I had to understand what the appeal was before I tackled sexy werewolves. Unlike vamps, werewolves are not the least bit repressed. They are the opposite extreme – much too animalistic. They can't keep their lusts under control, which makes them hot in the sack, eager to control, and eager to please. They're at their most popular when they are alpha males (same applies to vamps) who control and tend to women's lusts with their own out-of-control passions. I also wonder if some women find their vulnerability, especially when they shift from wolf to human, very attractive. These creatures need to be hidden and brought to safety before the village people find them and kill them. Since they cannot control their lycan natures they need a good woman to care for them. Hence more attraction.

Ghosts – Ghosts are my personal favorite. I have loved ghost stories and legends since I was a child. Nothing scares me more than a good ghost story like "The Haunting Of Hill House", "Hell House", "The Changeling", "The Ring", "Dark Water", and more of those Asian horror films with vengeful, angry female ghosts in them. Some of the most romantic films, plays, and books deal with ghosts as well. I'm thinking of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", "Ghost", "Topper", and "Blithe Spirit". Ghosts symbolize the existence of life after death, which is very soothing to lots of people. Plus you get to continue to live in your own home for eternity dressed in your nicest clothes.

Zombies – These creatures have always been popular in horror but they have recently found a following in erotic romance. To me they represent the loss of humanity. Early zombie films like "White Zombie" starring Bela Lugosi did not have undead zombies. The zombies in that movie were living people so beaten down and demoralized as slaves that they had their humanity beaten out of them. The hero had to lure his zombified wife back to humanity through his love. Zombies can be a hard sell because they are so gross, being dead and decaying, body parts falling off all over the place, and being just generally nasty. I've read some zombie romance fiction and the romance tends to be between living characters dealing with the undead. I did read some sex scenes between zombies or humans and zombies and it's rather unsettling to say the least.

Those are my favorite paranormal creatures. What are yours? What do you think of creatures I didn't mention like fairies, angels, demons, and other types of shifters? And what about creatures that are from non-western folklore? I've written a few stories with those creatures and they're always unusual and fun to write.

Since I mentioned "Feral Heat", here is information to buy it if you're interested. This one is a werewolf erotic romance. I shall soon start working on the sequel, "Lover's Moon".

Romance Divine
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble
All Romance E-Books

Friday, October 22, 2010


On Monday, because I’d let the housework go to hell the previous week, I decided I’d better clean. Properly. Not just one of those quick tidy-ups. So the bathroom thought Christmas had come early, and so did my cooker.

Now, I rarely clean the inside of my cooker. Disgusting of me, I know, but I also know there are many others out there who don’t do that either (come on, admit it!). Said cooker had started to, err, smoke a bit and smell when I turned it on. That might have had something to do with the charred cheese that drips off pizzas (highly bugging) and various other bits of food that seem to jump off the trays while cooking.

A weird side of me wonders if food indeed has feelings, deciding it’s bloody hot in there, and attempts a break-out.

Okay, forget I admitted I think odd things like that…

Anyway, Husband, the dear, had the week off. As I don’t clean on weekends unless I’m feeling insane (he does it), he rarely sees me when I’m cleaning. I kinda forgot he was home and did my usual sing-and-dance routine, paying particular attention, and going at it with much glee, to the part in Aretha Franklin’s Respect where the backing singers go: Whoop!

So, I’m cleaning away…

What you want! WHOOP! Baby, I got it! WHOOP! What you need! WHOOP! You know I got it!

And then I remembered he was home. So I said, “Pardon me, dear, but this is how I act when I’m alone.”

Note those words, my beauties…

About an hour later, after leaving the spray oven cleaner stuff to do its work, I decided it was time to wipe that off and have a sparkling oven again. One where I can actually SEE through the glass door. (Don’t… I’m foul.)

So, I proceeded to take off my jeans.

Hubby looked at me as though he thought the same as the bathroom (Christ, Santa read my mind…) and asked, “What are you doing, love?”

“I’m taking my jeans off,” I said.

“Umm, is this another one of your daily rituals I’m unaware of?” (Possibly thinking: Just what does this woman do when I’m at work, for God’s sake? I thought she wrote!)

“No,” I said. “Just going to clean the oven.”

His confused face was TOO funny, and I went off to do my scrubbing in just my knickers, bra and top.

There was a reason for this mad behaviour. I’d been wearing white jeans. I’ve made the mistake in the past of cleaning while wearing this colour, or wearing black and getting a great big bleach splash on my clothes. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that now, when Hubby emails during the day and asks, “What you up to, love? Everything all right?” and I answer, “Cleaning the windows…” he’s going to be praying to the dear Lord above that I’m fully clothed and NOT outside with my knickers on show!

So, delightful bunch of readers, have you ever cleaned in just your underwear, or, been more daring and cleaned in the nude? Enquiring minds want to know...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Since it's October and all, I figured it'd be a good time to talk about things that go bump in the night. First, do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever been visited by a spirit? Well, I have. And here's what happened...

It was back when my oldest was still just a baby. I used to have this routine when I put her to bed at night. I'd sit in a chair next to her crib, reach my hand through the railing and rub her arms, legs, back, and sing to her. I can't hold a tune, but I'd sing things like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". She'd eventually nod off. Kati always had trouble sleeping, but that seemed to help. Anyway, I found I looked forward to these quiet moments. The room would be dark, and it gave me a chance to unwind from the hectic day I'd had.

Then it happened.

One night, as I was singing to Kati and rubbing her arm, an image of a teenage boy popped into my head. It wasn't a physical thing. He wasn't IN the room with us. But in my mind I saw him so clearly. As if I knew him. He had dirty blond hair and this ornery smile. He was tall, lean, and seemed, I don't know, familar. The next night the same thing happened. His image appeared in my mind, only this time I had a stray thought about my little brother, Paul. Paul had died of SIDS, so I never really got to know him or remember him, I was too young. I wasn't sure why I was suddenly thinking about him.

The next night was more of the same. This cute, blond smiling at me, and then I'd think of baby Paul. The combination made no sense to me. After about a week of this, I finally caved and called my mom in the hopes she'd have some grand answer as to why I was having these strange...visions. I explained in detail what was going on. Mom got real quiet. My first thought was 'oh no, I've upset her by bringing up Paul'. We tended to not talk about him because it hurt her. Finally she spoke and what she said sent chills down my spine.

"Today's the anniversary of Paul's death", she said, her voice trembling.

I couldn't speak, couldn't move. The thing is, I never actually KNEW the date Paul died. It was just so hard for my mom and so we never really talked about it. The fact that I'd been seeing him in these visions a week before he died, and that I would call my mom on the very date that he passed away, well, it stunned the both of us.

So, what did it all mean? I felt there was something to this. A reason Paul came to me. After mom and I both recovered, we decided that it was Paul's way of asking us to remember him. We felt he was trying to tell us that he was okay and that we should remember him with a smile, not tears.

Things changed after that. For one, I never saw that smiling boy again. Also, mom and I started visiting Paul's grave regularly. I've talked to my girls about him too. Paul's wish was granted because we'll always remember him with love and a smile. :) 

So, what strange things have happened to you? Ever have a spirit visit you in the dead of night?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One of those days

Ever have one of those days where nothing goes right? Where the second you wake up you know you're in for it? Well... today is that day for me! LOL. Except, it's not really funny, but I'll pretend it is. Maybe all the lol-ing will help.

When my daughter crawled into bed with me and I rolled over to give her our morning snuggle only to realize we were LATE I had the feeling that it would be a hectic day. We went from being late, to being out of peanut butter for her lunch, to the youngest being grumpy, to losing a jacket and not realizing it until it was time to head out for school and of course, it just happens to be raining in Southern California.

Looking for said jacket made us later. Moving on to a mix-up at the bank which took a little while to figure out and now I'm at home and remember is Wednesday and I have nothing to blog about! So's one of those days. I'm posting some eye candy in hopes that it will perk me up a bit. Enjoy the hotties and tell me, what do you do when you're having one of those days? Just ride it out or do you have any kind of routine you like that helps you get on track again?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boooo to Youuuuuuu!

I know a lot of folks don't get into Halloween but I've always loved it. For me, it was a fun time that fostered my creativity, brought me together with my little friends and signaled the beginning of the holiday season. I grew up in a small town in the days when no one worried about 'dangerous' treats and few people locked their doors at night. I'd gather with my little girlfriends and we'd visit everyone in town, many of whom went all out by actually making their popcorn balls or dipping apples into carmel. Homemade treats were the norm, not the exception in those days. We knew everyone and the folks in town happily took pics, teased and tormented us as we made them 'guess' who was behind the mask! The air was crisp with fall in the air and, in those days, it was always tempting to dig through our bags to ooh and aah over what we had been given.

I brought that love of the occasion into my own home and nothing tickled me more than to come up with the perfect costumes for my kids. I think my daughter set the record for the number of times one could be a witch. I tended toward the fancy stuff...lots of orange or black taffeta, lace, velvet witch hats and fancy black shoes with big buckles or lace up boots. My photo album is full of pics of her, at various ages, in her witchy attire. My son trended toward ninjas, vampires, pirates and one year he was a big black spider. Fascinating costume, that one. He'd wear black sweats and step into a body suit that featured a big padded belly. The many spider legs were attached to his arms to spread out when he raised his arms.

My sister had two boys who were close to my kids ages so I'd box up my used costumes and she would do the same and we'd ship them to each other. Since we were in different states, this worked like a charm (especially for the boy stuff). Saved us both money plus the kids got something new and cool to wear for their trick or treating.

Now my kids are grown and doing more 'adult' Halloween stuff but I must admit that I miss those days of walking with them through the neighborhood on a crisp October night.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Boyfriends

I have two girls in addition to the boy I mentioned in my post entitled The Dog, The Boy, and Tess. My girls are eighteen and nineteen. They, of course, think they’re grown. Well, at least one of them thinks she’s grown and the other one occasionally thinks she’s grown.

Because of their age and my reconciliation with the fact that neither of them are virgins—and why would I try to protect that anyway?—there are NO curfews at my house for my girls. Except when they have to get up early the next morning for school or work. Both work, but only one, “J”, goes to school and works. The other one, “T”, should be starting school in the spring—we’ll see. But the rule here is that you work and go to school. Life is not a free ride, and along with the good times, work MUST be included. So “T” does at least work even though she’s not in school.

As long as they give me good grades and make their own play money, I’m good to go. Or should be. Yeah, right. I’m accused of butting into their boyfriend business quite a bit. Well, I do. Why? Because they both have had some pretty lousy taste in dudes. I guess maybe they inherited that. Hmmm…

Anyway, “J” just got past a relationship with a guy who honestly was verbally abusive. Maybe more—but if he was, she knew better than to tell me at least while they were still together or may be too embarrassed now to admit to it. You know the kind of guy. One second he would tell her how much he loved her. How gorgeous he thought she was. How smart. Then two minutes later he’d take it all back. Call her names, etc. For nine long months I had to sit and watch this crap. “J” literally cried every day. There was NEVER an up day. And I sat back and wondered where I’d gone wrong. I’d raised her to know all the signs of an abusive relationship. Raised her to be strong and independently natured. Always told her how pretty and smart she is. So why did she allow this guy to take control of her and demean her in such a way? I have yet to figure that all out. Thankfully, she finally bit the bullet and followed my advice almost three months ago and is free of that jerk. She told me yesterday that she couldn’t believe she’d ever even liked him. Well, duh! I guess each woman has to endure one of those idiots so it sinks in. I just kept praying that she’d see the light. Some girls aren’t so lucky and stay in these relationships.

The new guy—yep there’s a new one. At that age guys are kind of like M & Ms. They come and go by the handful. LOL But this new guy is really cute. Has THE most incredible bright blue eyes. I like him. He’s the good ole Southern boy type. Very unassuming. Polite. Holds down two jobs. And he’d definitely take his gal down a country road and check her for ticks. *snicker* And “J” really likes him a lot. He’s 26. Seven years her senior. Do I see that as a problem? Nope. I am praying it means his frontal lobe is fully developed. LOL And after a month? I kind of think it is. At least he hasn’t pissed me off. That’s a damn good sign too. They usually do it within the first week.

As for the eighteen-year-old? Sighhhhh I just don’t know about “T”. Her issues seem to surround never being able to find a guy who will EVER make above minimum wage. Now before you throw rotten eggs or tomatoes, there’s nothing wrong with minimum wage earners. However, there’s nothing wrong with having a little ambition either. A little OOMPH to your goals. And her guy seems to have no goals other than:

1. Getting the brakes to work well enough on his ol’ junker to get him where he’s going THIS time.
2. Scrounging up enough change for Mickey D’s dollar menu. Sharing the small fry with HER.
(Okay. He shared with her and that SHOULD get him points. Uh huh. Yeah.)
3. Buying a hundred-dollar-pair of sneakers with his paycheck that was only $180.00.
4. Setting the seat in his car so far back that he is LYING DOWN to drive.
5. Outfitting said junker with bling that makes it AND him look stupid.
6. Borrowing money from HER so that she in turn must borrow from ME because he NEVER pays her back.

All in all? Big ole RED “L” is painted on this dude’s forehead. LOOOOOOSER! Okay. Some day one of these guys may turn out to be the next Bill Gates. But I seriously doubt it. I had a round with “T” this morning about this guy. She was telling her sister that her guy had not been paid yet again this week—yeah, not been paid seems to happen to him frequently. For some odd reason his boss keeps holding back his paycheck. Sounds to me like said dude is borrowing on his pay check and owes his boss. Then borrowing from my girl. Who borrows from me. THIS vicious cycle is now officially broken. So not happening again.

So, I’m doing what I do best. Snooping. Yep, I’m doing the old police check today. Yep, criminal records tell you a lot about a person. And then I’ll be calling on some people I know in the area where said dude and his dad live. Time to find out just WHAT this is all about.

Am I going too far? Should I just let it lie? Let her make her own mistakes without interference? Yep, I should. Except for one thing. Her mistakes always come back to haunt me somehow and forewarned is forearmed. I already told her she could hand over her hard-earned money to this guy again this week, but she better not ask me for a dime. Like that’s gonna happen. But she will learn the hard way this time that NO means NO. I dread it.

So how far have any of you ever gone to protect your kids from a relationship that was harmful? I’d really like to know. And some of you may even be able to give me some tips.

See you all next Monday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I am the Bloody Oracle!

After reading a blog post HERE, I left a comment about being the bloody oracle. Anyone else suffer with being this maddening deity? While I realise, and think it’s quite sweet really, that my children ask me where everything is, it doesn’t mean I have to sodding well like it. Especially not when I have a large number of children—it seemed a good idea at the time (only joking, love them really)—and all of them ask me throughout the day, one after the other, preferably each child requesting I know something more than once, where their gear is. Especially not when it’s my writing time they’re interrupting with their queries.

Imagine it:

John caressed Marjorie’s buttocks (Mum, where’s my shoes?) (In the shoe rack where they’re meant to be. *cue Mum’s smugness at her delicate dig*) and felt the heat of her arousal pressed against his leg. She gasped (Mum, where’s my purple wotsit with the sparkly bits on it?) (*Grits teeth* What sparkly wotsit?) (You know, that wotsit I got at that party.) (I have no idea what sparkly wotsit you’re talking about *Pant! Pant! Lord give me strength!*) (But I need it!) (Do you? Righty ho. Perhaps try your bedroom? *I need a bloody skillet to wrap about your head.*) and reached her hand up to cup his cheek. (Mum, where’s my—) (You’d better not be asking me where your shoes are again, boy!)

And on it goes.

Of course, ever since they can remember, Mum has always sorted things out, knew where everything was, so, as they’ve grown they refuse to think for themselves. It’s easier to ask Mum instead.

Where’s my oracle? *stamps feet* Where’s the person I ask? *throws self on floor like a dying swan and makes groaning noises one of the heroines in my books would proud of*

Uh, that would be me too.

I’m all for having an easy life, but at times, my little buggers…uh, I mean darling children, need to take a bit of responsibility for where they put their—wait for it!—“thingy”.

There are numerous things a “thingy” could be, and much as I’d like the ability to read minds, I don’t know what those thingies are when I’m asked where they are.

A classic example: “Muuuuuuuuuuuuuum! Where’s my thingy?”

“I have no idea. If I knew what the thingy was, I might know, but also, unless the thingy was left down here for me to put away—which is usually the case *more Mummy smugness at yet another dig*—why would I know where you put it?”

I am the bloody oracle.

I’ve tried being clever and asking them if they can cast their minds back to the time they last saw their thingy. I know this doesn’t even work for me at times, but hey, it’s worth a shot, right? But they are infinitely cleverer.

“I can’t remember.”

“Ah, you blessed little…sweet child. You can’t remember. That’s a good one. I’ll have to remember that one. I mean, remember not to remember where my thingies are.”

Some days I don’t even remember where my head is, let alone my thingy (and if I were a man, that would sound just plain WRONG). Just the other day I made a cup of tea. You know, the British kind with milk. There it sat on the kitchen side, and I’m stirring in the milk after having squeezed the old PG Tips bag and dumping it in the bin. My mind was full of a WIP, and, funny enough, I’d stopped at a scene where my characters were having a coffee. Absently, I reached for my coffee jar and added a spoon to my tea. I've done this before, and it features in my free read, Love Quest, except then I added gravy powder (don't ask...). I must say, the shock that I did this brought me up short. Am I going crazy now? Do I need to watch myself while out crossing the road? Because if I’m thinking about my characters like this, I might do myself some damage.

Anyway, the tea/coffee combo made quite a nice drink. Yeah, I drank it.

So, I may well tell my children that I can no longer be the bloody oracle due to diminished responsibility. “I’m insane, my beauties, so it isn’t safe to ask me where your thingies are.”

Reckon it will work? Nah, I don’t think so either, but it’s worth a try.

Failing that, I can always buy some of these. I heard they were pretty effective.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Little Bit Naughty--excerpt

Sorry I'm late! I've been at the fair watching my daughter perform in the band. Great weather for it this time. Last year it was cold and rainy. We nearly froze to death. LOL

Anyway, today I want to share an excerpt from my current release, A Little Bit Naughty, which is sitting pretty in the #1 spot on the Samhain bestseller list. Woot! This story is part of the Tahoe Nights series with Karen Erickson, S. L. Carpenter. Here's a taste!


Resistance is no longer an option…

Faced with the annual family reunion in Lake Tahoe, Amanda Harding cringes inwardly like the awkward teenager she used to be, not the successful bookstore owner she is now. Once again she’ll be bombarded by questions about her dreadful status as a single woman. And, like always, she’ll feel the weight of her parents’ disappointment that their only child isn’t happily married and pregnant with their first grandchild.

As she relates her troubles to her good friend, Leo, she’s shocked to the core by his offer to pose as her soon-to-be fiancé. Then all she can think about getting tangled up in the sheets—and with Leo’s deliciously hard body.

Leo Prentice has always wondered what his quiet, bookish Amanda looked like beneath the conservative suits, but the prospect of wrecking their friendship has kept his dirty mind in check. Until their first fake kiss. Playing Amanda’s lover seemed like a win-win. But the little bookworm stirs a fire in him unlike any other woman.

Soon, the teasing touches and sensual looks are all too real…and not nearly enough.

Warning: this title contains a yummy construction man, a shy bookstore owner and a very naughty weekend filled with sizzling friends-turned-lovers sex.

Adult Excerpt:

He cupped her face in his palm. “You and I are going to share that bed, sweetheart. Are you okay with that?”

Forcing down the tremors his touch invoked, Amanda said, “There are two rooms.”

“I know, but I don’t want to sleep in an empty bed. Do you?”

Did she? What would happen if she slept next to Leo all night long? Could she keep her hands off him? She didn’t know, but one thing was for certain. She didn’t want to waste a single second of this trip. She had Leo to herself, and she wanted to know more about the sudden sparks flying back and forth between them. The only way to achieve that would be to act like a woman and not a silly teenager on prom night.

Feeling a little more confident, Amanda murmured, “I don’t want to sleep alone.”

One side of Leo’s mouth kicked up into a crooked grin. “Good answer, sweets.” He stepped back and dropped his hand. “Now, how about dinner? I don’t know about you, but I’m starved.”

He moved around her and headed toward the kitchen. Amanda took a few seconds to calm her racing heart. When she heard him call out to her, she smiled. For the first time in her life she was actually going to enjoy one of the Harding family reunions. Go figure.

Leaving the bedroom behind, Amanda went in search of Leo. She found him bent over, peering into the refrigerator. She licked her lips at the sight of his jean-covered ass. When he straightened and turned, Amanda’s cheeks heated. Had he noticed where her gaze had been?

“Your mom thinks of everything doesn’t she?”

Okay, so he hadn’t seen her eyeballing his butt. Whew. “Uh, yeah, pretty much.”

“She’s left us hamburger meat, hot dogs and there’s even potato salad in there. Looks homemade too.”

At the mention of her mother, Amanda relaxed a little more. Moving toward a cupboard, Amanda found two plastic cups, took them out and placed them on the little table in the center of the room. “Mother wouldn’t have us eating store-bought potato salad. In her opinion that’d be tacky.”

Leo leaned against the counter, as if content to quietly watch as she took out plates, utensils and napkins. It wasn’t until Amanda opened the refrigerator and took out two cans of pop that he finally spoke. “So, what are you in the mood for?”

You, she ached to admit. Instead she said, “How about hot dogs?”

“Sounds good to me.”

“There’s a grill out back, but that’s a lot of work and we’re both tired. How about we just nuke them?”

“That’s fine by me.” He pushed away from the counter and took her by the shoulders, turning her to face him. “In fact, how about you go take a nice long bath. I’ll get this.”

Amanda thought of the Jacuzzi and practically moaned. Massaging jets of hot water? Oh, yes, definitely what she needed to relax her frayed nerves. “Are you sure?”

Leo chuckled. “I’m not helpless, Amanda. I can microwave a few hotdogs without help.” Leo reached around her body and swatted her on the bottom. “Go. Relax and enjoy. Let me take care of this.”

Amanda stiffened. Leo had delivered a friendly little spank before. It didn’t mean anything. Except this time his hand had lingered a second longer than usual. And, Amanda admitted, she liked it. Too much. Unable to speak without possibly revealing how easily his touch affected her, Amanda silently and swiftly left the room.
A bath. That’s what she needed. A hot soak, some food to settle her rumbling stomach and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow she’d feel more like herself. As she stepped inside the bedroom, Amanda’s gaze strayed to their luggage. Why had she agreed to share the same bed? How in God’s name was she supposed to actually sleep knowing Leo lay mere inches away?



Leo’s cock hardened. He’d knocked. Twice. He’d even called her name a few times. Entering the bathroom uninvited had been his only option. Hell, she could’ve drowned, right? What else could he do but check on her? As he stared at the bubbling water, Amanda’s head back, eyes closed, he knew a moment’s guilt. He should look away. At the wall, the sink, the damn toilet, anywhere but at his friend’s naked body, which, by the way, just happened to be barely covered by hot, bubbly water. He couldn’t really make out anything, he told himself.


Pink. Bubble gum pink to be more accurate. Now he knew what shade her nipples were. And there went his cock, again. More of that and he’d have a friggin’ zipper print tattooed permanently on his dick.

“Amanda?” he called out, unwilling to wake the sleeping beauty, but much more of this and he wouldn’t be able to keep from reaching out and stroking something. Anything. Everything.

A slow smile spread over her face. “Hmm?”

Christ, that was a sexy look. “Uh, sweetheart, you need to get out of the tub now.”

Her eyelids shot wide, and she yelped. “Leo!” Slick, feminine hands covered round, firm breasts as water sloshed over the sides of the tub. “What are you doing in here?”

Quickly turning away, he rushed to say, “I’m sorry, but I tried knocking and you didn’t answer. I was worried.” Yeah, look away now, asshole, after you’ve had a good eyeful. “Uh, dinner’s ready.”

“I… You—”

“You’ll be right out. Got it,” he helpfully supplied.

“Yes,” she squeaked. “Right out. Yes.”

Leo left the room, and the slick, sleek goddess behind. It was no easy feat. In fact, he would have rather stood under a beehive covered in honey than leave Amanda in that moment. Damn, what he wouldn’t give to go back in there. To watch her rising out of the water. Little droplets streaming down her voluptuous body. She wouldn’t even need a towel—he could just lick her dry. Leo glanced down at his crotch and groaned.
“Christ, you need to chill, bud. She needs time.”


The feminine voice had him stiffening, and not just his spine either. He sent up a silent prayer that Amanda was naked, that she’d decided to put him out of his misery after all. He turned slowly and then Leo’s hopes fell. She wasn’t nude. ’Course, the little pink tank top and black cotton shorts did wonders for her curves. His cock sure as hell approved. Large, round breasts and wide hips had his mouth watering. A bite, a suck, that’s all I’m asking. Is it so much?

With her hair wrapped up in a towel and feet bare, she looked sweet, adorable, innocent. He was none of those things. And it didn’t matter because she wasn’t going anywhere. Before the weekend was over he’d have her naked and in that great big bed. And he’d finally get to taste all that creamy satin.

Read Chapter One | MBaM | Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So damn sexy!

Vampires. I have to admit that four years ago if you would have asked me if I read a vampire romance, I probably would have laughed. I'm not proud to admit it, but I judged a book by its cover...err... a genre before I've read it. It wasn't just vampires, but I didn't do the whole paranormal romance thing at all. I didn't get it. The "undead" sexy? No way. Wolf shifters? How can the heroine not be worried they'll shed on her couch? LOL. Okay, so I wasn't that bad, but pretty close.

I had a friend who kept begging me to give them a try. I put up a fight until I couldn't hold her back anymore and that's when I picked up The Dark Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon and my life has never been the same. LOL. I can't get enough of those sexy paranormal creatures! Shifters? HOT. Vampires? D-freakin-licious! Demons, Angels, I love them all, but I have to admit, vampires always hold a special place in my heart. They always affect me more than any of the other things that go bump in the night.

This weekend I was reading Taken by Midnight, the newest in Lara Adrian's Midnight Breeds, and I started thinking about what it really is about vampires that are so damn sexy. The strength is pretty hot, the good looks, immortality isn't bad either. They're forbidden and taboo which most of us girls just can't get enough of. All those are great, but there are a few other things that REALLY get me when it comes to vampires, and some other paranormals now that I think about it, but I LOVE their FIERCE protection of the woman they love, and that possessive, MINE attitude. I guess that's not very independent woman of me, but I get shivers just thinking about how protective and possessive they get over the woman they love. How she is theirs to protect and he'll do anything to keep her safe. I'm not afraid to admit how incredibly hot that is to me. LOL. What I love Adrian's series is the vampires have that protective attitude, but the women are strong and capable too! They know what the women can bring to the table, and they let them participate, but also you know that the big, sexy vampire warrior always has their back.

And of course, they're pretty damn capable in the bedroom too. We can't forget that. How they know where to touch you, the added danger and excitement of fangs against your skin.... Yeah, like I said, damn sexy!

What is your favorite paranormal character? What is it that makes them so sexy to you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Romanticon-Kinda Like Christmas

Just returned from Ellora's Cave Romanticon 2010 and I have to say, in retrospect, it felt a lot like Christmas. You know how it is on Christmas morning. Everything is warm and cozy, lights are twinkling on the tree and the house smells like a mixture of coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon. The kids are tearing into presents and you smile deep in your heart at the comforting 'family feel' of it all. That's how I feel when I go to Romanticon. It's like homecoming, family, and fun all wrapped up in a bright, glittery ball. Before packing my bags and catching my flight to Ohio, I wondered if the event would measure up to last year but it spades.

From the overworked, harried hotel workers to presenters at each of the wonderful workshops (for both authors and readers) every second was top notch and more fun than I can say. There is nothing greater than re-connecting with those author pals I know through this crazy writer's life and then there are the new faces to get to know. Smiles were definitely in fashion and everywhere I went, I was greeted with hugs, smiles, and lots of laughter. We were just all so damn happy to be there. And what can I say about EC's hardworking staff? They performed spectacularly on every level making sure everyone had what was needed, that the event venues were decked out for us, and smiling through it all. Talk about Grace Under Pressure! I was simply in awe of them and I don't think there was a reader or author present who didn't recognize and appreciate the fabulous job they did in making us feel welcome.

Love was in the air. Admiration, too. In the end, it wasn't about the ME of a person. It was about the US. We were a family for those few great days. Life doesn't get any better. Now on to next year. I simply can't wait. If you haven't been to Romanticon, please reserve your space. Come and feel the love. It happens every year in a small town in Ohio.

Oh and pardon this last wee bit of self-aggrandizment but I won an award for my Texas cowboys. :-) I am so unworthy but it was such a wonderful feeling to hear my name called. Here is a pic of me (snapped by my bud, Nic Austin) with a wall of Caveman Hotness at my back. Yes, I am soooo unworthy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Virgin Hero

Perception. Perception. Perception.

And try as I may, I can’t quite see a virgin hero. The topic came up over the weekend with a fellow writer and both of us tried our best to find a way to make a virgin hero sexy and just couldn’t. However, we did decide that a virgin hero works within the M/M pairing. With that said, note that even then the hero would not technically be a virgin, but rather virginal in the sense he’s never been with another man. And that set up, of course, provides lots of layering for characterization and plotting. Bravo!

But what about M/F pairings?

Here’s where I’ve decided that I’m a female chauvinist. I don’t want to read or write a book in which the hero is painted as a virgin. There would be something really off about that to me. It just wouldn’t be sexy—and that usage is an adjective.

1. provoking or intended to provoke sexual interest: a sexy dress ; a sexy man
2. feeling sexual interest; aroused

Now certainly a virgin can feel sexually aroused. And I’m sure there is some erotica out there in which a woman “takes” a virginal man and teaches him about sex. That plot line can be very sexy. But is the hero himself sexy? For me, while reading a sex scene in which a woman pops a guy’s cherry can be very sensual and erotic, the guy himself just isn’t sexy—that story is about the sex act and the plot or sub plot of losing his virginity rather than the character, isn’t it? So I suppose it’s safe to say that I can handle a virgin hero if the story is plot-driven. But that’s not what romance is about, is it? Yes, your plot needs to be interesting and engage readers, but romance is about the romance and the characters and how they evolve—finally finding love.

My friend said, “Lots of books have heroes with flaws.” Ah ha! She said it, I didn’t. Is being a virgin a flaw? Well, I have to admit, yeah, I think so. In the case of the hero, a definite yes. And what does that make me? Biased out the ying yang—that’s what it makes me. I’m a double-standard toting female. I’m just fine with virginal heroines, but I draw the line at virginal heroes. Why? No matter how I cut it, I still see the male in the role of the aggressor. I still see him stronger, more experienced. And I’m not even sure why. I burned my bra right along with lots of other women, ya know?

So I’ve decided that it might be something deeply instinctual in me—back to the cave man days. He goes out and beats a dinosaur to death and brings it home to the little woman who discovered fire and then cooks it. Afterward, he drags her around the cave by her hair and they do the down ‘n’ dirty upside a big rock. Dayum that sounds bad of me doesn’t it?

Well, I just can’t help it. I want my men to know what they’re doing in the bedroom—or in my case, I guess, the cave. Yeah, yeah, I know. They had to get their experience some place. Just not with me or the heroines I write. Okay?

Now my friend brought up “coming of age stories”. There again, it’s plotting not romance. And I’ve recently had the privilege of editing a book in which one of the male protagonists IS a virgin—well, sort of. He’s been saving himself for one special woman. AND he’s done everything BUT penetration. So is he really a virgin? To me? No. It’s kind of like that president who said oral sex really isn’t sex. Uhmmm…okay. NOT! Sex is sex. Oral, anal, vaginal, masturbatory. But technically? You’ve got to have penetration to NOT be a virgin. I think it’s a law. LOL (But the Prez was no virgin.) So while the hero in this story that I’m editing is technically a virgin, he’s definitely had his share of sexual encounters and for me that takes away that virginal stain in my mind.

I’m not downing virgins. Glory to them. Sometimes I wish… well, no, I don’t. You get what I’m trying to say. There is nothing wrong with being a virgin. But does a virginal hero belong in romance? Possibly the sweet stuff? After all, we’ll never see him do it anyway. *snicker* Does a virginal hero have a place in erotic romance?

Here’s what I want you to do. I’m going to play big time agent today. And I want YOU to paint me a scenario in which a virginal hero works within erotic romance. Remember: It’s about the romance and sex, the characters within the story—NOT about the plot. Don’t be surprised when you get a big old rejection from me. Heck, I might even work up a form letter. LOL But I’m going to be a hard hard hard sale. I just don’t think it’s possible for a virginal hero to be sexy. And no cheating. I mentioned the book above in which the guy had done just about everything else and is only TECHNICALLY a virgin. So, paint me a real virgin. All just for fun and to keep the creative juices flowing. AND a chance to disagree with me. Go ahead. I want you to. LOL

See you next Monday…

Friday, October 8, 2010

Oh my Lord I'm Feeling Old!

I had a “God, I’ve aged!” moment this morning. Let me start from the beginning…

Before I seriously immersed myself in my writing cave this past year, I looked young. I went out to a party with my eldest daughter last October and someone asked her, “Who’s your friend?” Of course, we pissed ourselves laughing at that and explained I was her mother. I can’t blame them for thinking how they did. I had my daughter just after I turned eighteen and I was also acting like a younger person by freaking out on the dance floor to House of Pain’s Jump Around. Um, yeah. I love that song.

Anyway, my daughter and I, when she was still at uni, used to go and have our hair and nails done every couple of months. She’s a darling and treated me every time. We’d go together, sitting side by side having our locks chopped then leave the salon hoping no one we knew saw us. The stylist never did our hair the way it was supposed to be—don’t you just hate that? I have mine in a trendy cut, yet they blow-dried it to make me look forty years older. Ugh. Then we’d run to the nail salon and sit like royalty, reading trashy magazines while the lady attended to the acrylics. White tips, square cut…God, I’m drooling at the memory.

During that time I felt so…confident and pampered. They say if the outside of you looks good, you feel good on the inside. I can vouch for that, because now my daughter is working full time as a social worker, and I’m deep inside my cave writing, neither of us have had the time to do the hair and nails days. We talked the other week about feeling a bit poo about ourselves and discussed whether we were vain, whether hair and nails mattered at all. After all, we’re still the same people now we have bitten nails and split ends, but…we don’t feel as “nice”.

So I looked at myself this morning, really looked at myself—something I try not to do because I don’t like what I see (another topic entirely)—and thought: You look old, my dear.

I have wrinkles I didn’t have last year. Grey circles beneath my eyes. Split ends a hairdresser would cuss me out for, not to mention a style that isn’t a style but just hair. And that hair…I haven’t dyed it in a while and I can see by the roots that if I didn’t dye it at all I’d be completely grey. That’s a family thing, that we all go grey early, not age, so I don’t feel so bad about that but…

It frightened me.

And then I thought of how rundown I’ve felt lately and wondered if me not taking time out to make myself feel better has attributed to that. There is something to be said for chasing your dream, that you sacrifice many things, because it’s hard work, you have to remain focused, and you don’t stop even when you get to where you want to be; you still have to keep honing your craft so you get better with every book.

I read a line in a book last night. It went something like this: A writer is known for neglecting their family, holing themselves up in a room alone, and not washing.

I had to smile at that, because, although I try not to neglect my family, I can say that for the past five years I haven’t spent as much time with them as I should. And there are days I stay in my pyjamas… I don’t have an office because if I did, I’d always be in it. My family would never see me. So I write in the living room. I’m there but not “there”. Available if anyone needs me, but for the most part, if I’m writing, I’m left alone.

And then that brings me to whether I need to find more of a balance. Can I continue to write as I do without sacrificing memories? I try and think of things we’ve done as a family that my kids can remember when they’re older, and I fear that all they’ll remember is: Mum sat at the computer all the time…all we ever saw was her back.

So, here are my questions:

How do you feel as you’ve aged? Are you fighting it? Does it scare you?

Do you do the hair and nails thing? I’d go out right now and visit those salons, but due to the economic crisis, I can’t justify spending that kind of money just to make myself feel better. There are bills to pay, blah blah blah.

And if you’re a writer, how do you balance your time? Do you feel you’ve neglected your family or other obligations? Do you wash (lol, sorry, couldn’t resist that one…)?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Murder Writer's Block!

I was going through my files the other day and found this article I'd written for another blog awhile back. I decided to dust it off and upload it here because as it happens I've been having some trouble with this very thing lately. And of course I forgot my own advice!

There isn’t a writer out there who can truly claim that they’ve never suffered from the dreaded writer’s block. We all have moments where the words just won’t come. The stress in our life, the deadline that’s looming, winter blues. Whatever the reason, we freeze up when we look at that blank document. Terror fills us. Suddenly, horrible thoughts start to bombard our bodies and minds. I’m a hack. I should hang up my pen. I can’t write my way out of a paper bag.

My tips for dragging myself out of that rut. No, these aren’t foolproof and there isn’t a guarantee on the box. But, I have found them to be effective from time to time.
1. An hour a day. If you work a full time job and the only time you have to write is at lunch or when the kids go to bed, then this is harder for you. Still, make yourself sit down and write. If the WIP isn’t working out—and it probably isn’t since we’re talking about writer’s block, lol—then switch to another project. Browse your mind and work up a new idea for a future book. Churn out some poetry. Write in your journal. Whatever, the key is to keep the creative juices flowing. 500 words or so, set a minimum for yourself. For some, that’s all it takes to break through that wall and get that WIP completed.

2. Read a good book. I do this all the time and I swear it helps keep me motivated. Whenever I’m feeling tied in knots, my mind is just a blank slate and there’s no chalk to be found, I pick up a book by one of my favorite authors and step away from the computer. I give myself over to their world for a little while. Even if it’s just for a few hours it refreshes me and I feel like I can dive into the annoying WIP again.

3. Exercise. When I’m on the treadmill or elliptical my mind tends to stray to the story I’m currently working on. There’s something about working up a sweat that helps clear my mind. It doesn’t always work, but quite often I’ll find myself mentally working on that next scene, the one that wouldn’t come before. Plus, you’ve burned off some of that damn chocolate. LOL

4. Grab a buddy. The other day I was sitting at the computer and trying to think of how I wanted the scene to go in the story I’m currently in the middle of writing. The problem? I kept waffling back and forth between two ideas. I wasn’t sure which to go with, and it was frustrating me because I NEED THIS STORY DONE YESTERDAY! Then a writer friend sent me a few chapters of the story he’s working on, seeking my opinion, and ta-da! Instant clarity! I don’t know why this works exactly. The competition maybe? Or is it simply that connection? Writers collaborating, chatting over ideas and getting the wheels turning. It’s sort of like exercising with a friend, I think. While you might slack off through the hard part if you were alone, having that friend there makes you want to ‘keep up’ as it were.

5. Take a walk down memory lane. One of the things that happens whenever I get blocked is I start to think really negative things about my own work. I start wondering why I ever got published to start with. Who do I think I am? Me, a writer? Yeah right! To keep those horrible thoughts from destroying my muse entirely, I go to my ‘good feedback’ folder. This is where I keep all the acceptance letters, good reviews, positive reader feedback, etc. I carefully sift through those various items and build my self-esteem back up, one small brick at a time. Soon, the wall is sturdy again and I can open that document and make another attempt at creating.

So, what’s your MO for murdering writer’s block? Do you have something specific that works for you? A method that helps keep you motivated? Tell the rest of us! Please!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Friends to lovers

I have exciting news! I just signed a contract with Liquid Silver Books for a new erotic romance, Staking Claim! It's a friends to lovers story which is always one of my favs! Sooo, because I'm in a playful mood I thought I'd tease you guys a bit with a little taste of Jake and Gabrielle!

Workaholic Gabrielle Ellis never lets her relationships make it past a couple dates. The sooner she can ditch them, the less chance she has they might leave her. Of course, she never picks the kind of guys she’d want anything long term with anyway, but that's beside the point.

After a night out celebrating yet another escape from her jackass of the week, and her upcoming move, she wakes up in her best friend, Jake Marshal’s truck in the middle of nowhere. According to Jake, she dumps every guy she dates for one reason; they’re not him. He promises after one weekend of erotic bliss, she’ll know she belongs in his bed forever. Jake Marshal, consummate bachelor and participant in her hidden fantasies, is staking his claim. As much as she wants him, she’s scared, too. After one touch, Gabrielle knows she doesn’t stand a chance.


Jake’s soulful black eyes captured. “You want to know why you break up with all those schmucks, honey?”
Actually, she didn’t. Not tonight. “No, I don’t. I’m tired, hungry and annoyed you brought me to,” she waved her hand in the air, “wherever we are without my consent. I’m not in the mood to be analyzed tonight.”
Jake snickered before he spoke to her in that honeyed voice she’d heard him use on so many women in the past. “Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.”
Gabrielle threw up her arms. “Of course you are. Jake Marshal always does what he wants.” Despite being her best friend, he drove her crazy sometimes.
“I think you already know the answer, Gab, but I’ll spell it out for you. It’s because, they’re. Not. Me.”
Engage over reaction. “What? You are really full of yourself. We’re friends, Jake. You’re not looking to settle down, and I have too bad a track record to risk our friendship on your ego.” Thump, thump, thump. Her heart punched at her ribs.
Before she could stop him, Jake unhooked her seatbelt and pulled her onto his lap. Damn, the man was warm. He smelled like a mixture of fresh cut grass and man. He cupped her cheeks and, damn it, she wasn’t putting up a fight. “I’m going to change your mind, honey. I’m not letting you leave me. You’re mine, and I’m tired of waiting for you to figure that out.”
His mouth took hers. Jake never did anything halfway, so his tongue went straight for her lips, teasing them open. Gabrielle didn’t hesitate. Sure, this might be a huge mistake, but she was a woman who’d had nothing but bad sex lately, and Jake was as delicious as they came.
She opened her mouth and let him inside, their tongues tangled as he swept each and every contour of her mouth. Oh, God, she’d groaned, but she couldn’t hold it back. His scent wrapped around her like a Jake-quilt, making the apex of her thighs flood with heat. The warmth of his mouth traveled to her jaw line, her neck, behind her ear.
“Give me the weekend to prove it to you, honey. Let me love you, Gab. Let me worship your body and show you that you belong in my bed.”
No, no, no. This wasn’t right. It was Jake’s hands caressing her back, his mouth licking her oh-so-tender skin. They were friends. He was the only constant in her life and when this ended badly, she would lose him.
Gabrielle dropped her head backward to give him better access. For something so wrong, it felt damn right.

And... that's it. Like I said, just a tease. LOL. Hope you liked it. Their story was really fun for me to write. I'm a sucker for best friend stories. I love writing two characters who know one another so well before they take that next step. My hubby and I were best friends when we got together so those stories always hold a special place in my heart.

What are some of your favorite friends to lovers books?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Time to Pack!

As we speak, I'm looking at my empty suitcase and preparing to get down to the business of packing for Ellora's Cave's 2010 Romanticon Convention in Richfield, Ohio. To say I'm excited doesn't begin to cut it. Have to say there are some nerves too. I don't know about you guys but I always just KNOW I'm going to forget something super important. Had to laugh at myself when I dreamed I'd forgotten my curling iron. Figures. But what made me laugh was realizing I would be among friends and there would be plenty of curling irons headed my way assuming I DID actually forget. That's the cool thing about partying down with a bunch of women...we are mostly prepared for any and every emergency.

I don't do a lot of conferences. Went to an RWA convention many moons ago and then nothing until heading to Ohio for EC's first ever get together last year. Before it was over I knew this is something I would never want to miss. This year I'm doing a couple of workshops and thanking my lucky stars that I won't be doing these ventures alone. That helps calm the nerves some! This year Ellora's Cave will celebrate ten years of misbehaving and will feature a Roaring 20's party on Friday and a big anniversary dinner on Saturday. Sandwiched amongst the festivities we'll have workshops for authors, aspiring authors and readers. I must confess that last year the 'reader' workshops were the most fun. I loved hearing what readers liked and didn't like in the books they read. Lots of food for thought there. Cerise Deland, Allie Standifer, Desiree Holt and I are presenting an 'author track' workshop that deals with writing series and co-writing. Later, many of us are participating in a reader workshop about Cougars. Now doesn't THAT sound like fun?

Of course one of the best things about attending Romanticon is meeting up with friends and touching base with editors and EC staff. My own editor is flying in from Australia and I'm just so happy she will be with us. Have you attended conferences for writers and authors? What are some of your best memories? And if you've never attended one, what would appeal to you enough to make you want to sign up?

In other news...check out what I'll be signing at Romanticon. Lone Star Beasts (books one and two of my High Plains Shifters series) is now available in print and was just released last week. So if you are a fan of the series, please pick up your copy HERE.

Highland Beast

The moment she looks into the antique mirror and sees him change from beast to man, Martha wants him. The brawny Highlander makes her body burn. When he pulls her through the glass, her fantasy became reality.

Trapped by a curse, Silas MacAdam, yearns for the woman who stares so innocently at him through the mirror. The need to claim her, to possess her, burns through him. The beauty can help him return to his people if he can convince her that she belongs to him—as his mate.

Lone Star Lycan

She came to dusty west Texas to bury the dead. But one look from Joe’s smoldering eyes made Quinn Harlow wet and needy. Though just a visitor, she wants to stay and find her destiny with Joe on these desolate plains.

Joe McKinnon, alpha of the Wolf Creek pack, takes one look at his destined mate and knows he’ll have his hands full. One touch has him willing to move mountains to claim her, but he knows it won’t be easy to tame the woman who holds his future in her hands.

Monday, October 4, 2010

We've Come A Long Way Baby!

Whether you actually remember the saying “You’ve come a long way baby” and the fact that it was originally a slogan for Virginia Slims cigarettes (was actually credited with increasing smoking among women), I’m sure you can identify with exactly what it means. Women have indeed come a long way. From not having the right to vote to divorce settlements to domestic violence issues to better pay within the workforce.

I’m not here today to wave the female flag so much as I am to give a shout out to the fact that we now live in a much more enlightened society—at least in the western world. There are still countries that treat women like second-class citizens or not even citizens at all but rather property. Early marriage and child birthing, lack of education, and violence against women does still exist in parts of today’s world and is the norm in certain countries.

But today a new Supreme Court term began here in the United States, and it should be noted that there are now three women sitting on the nine-justice panel. Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby. There are some very controversial issues to be addressed during this term and one has to wonder if having three women on the panel will make a difference in the outcome of these cases.

Three cases pending involve same-sex marriage, privacy rights at military funerals, and DNA testing if available for death row inmates. Now I know there is a lot of legalese I don’t understand with these cases, that precedent and interpretation will have an impact on the final definition of the law, but for me? These cases are all no-brainers.

You should be free to love and marry as you choose. Period. I can’t see where a welder named Fred who loves and marries a truck driver named Carl interferes with my rights in any way. Can’t see where a high school teacher named Sara who loves and marries another high school teacher named Linda has any impact on my life whatsoever. It should not be up to me to decide what brings another happiness. We are guaranteed the “pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness” in our constitution. And that’s all it should be about too.

No one should have the right to interfere with loved ones grieving for their fallen soldier. Grieving is a private issue in so far as I’m concerned. And anyone who does not respect that right doesn’t know the first thing about what is in anyone’s heart. Where IS the heart in all of that? If you don’t believe in the War on Terrorism, fine. No problem. Go protest on Capitol Hill or in front of the White House. Go protest on the outskirts of a military base. But it seems that the church involved in these military funeral protests believes that God is punishing us with these deaths based on “the sins of homosexuality”. WOW. Just WOW. How the hell did they figure that in? Another no-brainer. Don’t trample on my grief---show some damn respect!

And why, with DNA testing so prevalent these days, so advanced, would we deny any death-row inmate the opportunity to once and for all prove his/her innocence? If DNA evidence is available and can be tested, it makes no sense NOT to test it. Oh, it will cost a little money to do that. Hmmm…and most of them are just going to ask this be done to hopefully prolong the inevitable. Uhh…okay. But what if one of them is actually innocent? You can’t weight innocence against a few bucks, can you? I don’t know how long the average prisoner in the United States sits on death row before taking that walk, but I do know of, have read about, some sitting there for as long as seventeen and eighteen years. Plenty of time to order and receive results for any and all DNA available. Why not make sure we have the right person for the crime? Why else even have DNA testing? Yep, this is a no-brainer for me.

So now we have a court session which will address these issues and many more. And on that court sits three women. Women have been accused of being too emotional for this or that. And we are emotional. And I think that’s just fine. But will emotion figure into any of these cases? Or by virtue of their position, have the three women who now sit in judgment on the highest court in the United States, been stripped of the very thing that helps to define them as women? We still have people out there who don’t believe a woman should sit on the court. Should never become president or hold the position of senator or congresswoman. Don’t believe a woman should be CEO of a company or even a doctor or lawyer. And the belief is that women are not capable of leaving their emotion behind them and thinking logically.

As for me? Well, I think that the three women sitting on that court are more than capable of following the letter of the law and more than capable of creating new laws which adapt to our changing culture, thereby making our society more equal, more accepting. Balance. Isn’t that what the Scales of Justice are all about? Blind to outside influence, determined to weigh argument against argument and find the truth—give us that balance? So in considering the job those three women will do, I have to say this.

Justice is, after all, a lady. And it’s about time she had her say.