Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Whip out that wallet...the Holidays are COMING!

Already you say? The holiday season is almost here and I don't care which holiday it IS, they tend to cost a bit of money. Maybe none are up there with Christmas but in the end it all adds up.

So, why am I talking about holidays? Guess I start kind of thinking about it around the first of October. In September most of us are getting into the swing of a new school year and kid activities and...oh yeah...GETTING OUR LIVES BACK. By the time October gets here things have settled down some. I don't know about you, but my kids are already dropping hints about things they might like for Christmas. Christmas???? Okay, kids, lets do Halloween first.

As an adult I feel weird saying this but Halloween is the coolest holiday and I've loved it since I was just a kid and when my little ones got "spooked out" for Trick or Treating, I swear I got as big a kick out of it as they always did. Even now, I have a steady supply of candy corn around the house and my daughter and I have already been discussing what we'll do in the way of decorating this year. I have a spooky mat that I place at the front door and when the kiddos step on it, it howls like a wolf. Also have some cuter than heck pumpkin and ghost candleholders that I set out every year. Most years, I put on a witch hat and black clothes to answer the door to the trick or treaters.

Do ya'll make a big deal out of the holidays and which are your favorite?

Now I know this sounds strange since most claim Christmas as their favorite holiday but I'll say straight up it isn't mine. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas but I don't DO STRESS all that well and I find everything leading up to Christmas a little too much. My favorite holiday is actually Thanksgiving and I'll tell you why: the air is crisp and cool and the scent of home cooked food is in the air. I love to cook and it's become a tradition for my daughter and I to pull out the old family recipes. Naturally, I know them all by heart now but she doesn't and she's still learning about this whole "cooking thing". Every year, the meal I serve is the same because it includes the very favorite dishes of everyone I love. Maybe I love it for the fact that it's not about rushing or gift giving but about family and being together. One nice get-together meal before the rush of Christmas descends. To me, Thanksgiving represents home and comfort and that's why I love it so much.

So what do you do to get ready for the holidays and what are your favorites? Any special holiday memories you'd like to share? Mother Regina would love to hear them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I laughed until I cried!

Sometimes you just need a good laugh. Last night as I was tucking my youngest, Alisha, into bed and she said something silly, we both started cracking up. For several seconds we just sat there laughing. Soon, tears were streaming down our cheeks. Alisha can do that to me though. No matter how crazy or hectic my day, she can always make me laugh. I love a kid with a sense of humor, don't you?
Our lives get so busy sometimes that we forget to stop and enjoy the silly things. We had an esp. busy weekend here. We had a birthday party on Saturday for our daughters, which always means lots of cleaning and cooking. By the time Sunday rolled around I was exhausted! First, I sat and watch Alisha play her new X-Box 360 game, Bourne Conspiracy. It's always a riot to watch her shooting up the bad guys. Pretty soon I'm sitting there yelling, "watch the guy in the corner, he's coming at you! Shoot him! Shoot him!" LOL We get really into our games around here. After a few hours of that, we watched the movie Juno. Okay, you've got to be half dead if that 16 yr. old pregnant chick doesn't make you laugh out loud a few times. It's a great movie, with a wonderful message too. But for a really good laugh, I rely on my books.
  • Erin McCarthy's, The Pregnancy Test. I had people turning and staring at me when I read that book. OMG, it's freaking hilarous!
  • Linda Howard's Open Season. The scene where Daisy has the box of multi-colored condoms...LOL!!
  • Linda Howard's Mr. Perfect. Some of the scenes with Sam and Jaine are just downright funny. I'll never forget the part where she's sneaking a peek at him out her kitchen window.
  • Of Course the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is funny I hear. I've not read them yet, but I plan to. My mother raves about them!
  • Lori Foster has had some pretty funny scenes too. Too Much Temptation for one. I loved the cute interaction btwn Noah and Grace. Truly one of my favorite books by her.
  • Another by Lori Foster is in the Fallen Angels anthology, Uncovered. The scene where The P.I.s realize who's nude butt they have plastered on the wall. LOL I could SOOO feel their embarrassment!!
The problem is, I'm looking for more 'laugh out loud' romance stories. Any ideas?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Help! I need some recs!

I'm in a reading slump right now. A big one. I hate that feeling. I need good books to keep me sane. I've picked up a couple books lately by new authors and they were just so-so. Not terrible but not good enough to quench my thirst for a great book. I'm wondering if I should step out of my usual reading genres for a while. Maybe that will help. I don't read a lot of historicals so maybe if I pick up a few, reading something different will get me out of this rut. I need hot though. They don't have to be erotic but still steamy. So, give it to me! Any Regency era historicals you love? If you've read a good paranormal or contemporary lately tell me about those too!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weird and Wacky Make Up Tips

Has anyone ever posed the question to you...if you resembled any kind of animal, what would it be? Yeah, I know, it's goofy but sometimes we ARE goofy. My son would be a bear (a teddy bear) and my daughter, a cat. Of course, when we're playing around we'd say a "kitty cat". The general consensus at my house is that Mom is a lemur. Yep. A lemur. Needless to say, I have big, roundish eyes that tend to be expressive since I'm, by all accounts, dramatic. Sigh.

These days, however, I look more like an insomniac lemur. Scary. Too much time on the computer and getting my days and nights all mixed up have played hell with my appearance and I wake up with bags and puffs and circles. YUK. I've tried every kind of concealer that I could find and nothing worked. When eyes are your predominant facial feature, you certainly don't want them emphasized by puffs and darkness. Finally, I found something that worked and I highly recommend it to cover undereye problems without looking like you've just piled on make up. The product is Bare Essentuals Loose ID "well rested". It's a powder that you just brush under your eyes. Easy as pie to use.

I'm a woman of "a certain age" and when I hit that "age" full blast I started using these products. Now southern women don't sweat...we GLOW. Yeah right!!! Anyway, I found everything I used felt heavy and like it was sliding off my face. The Loose ID powder doesn't do that. It stays on and doesn't feel heavy. Now their "well rested" powder is just one more of their things I've added to my make up bag.

In researching for this post I found some wacky tips that some women swear really works. Acne/blemish problems? Try mixing two tablespoons of any kind of toner with yogurt. Put it on your face daily (3-10 days) until the bumps are GONE. Hm. Need some hair gel and you're all out? Try mixing honey with boiling water and make your own. Since I've been obsessed with the eye thing lately, I found this one very interesting. Know how some days if you're really tired and have been staring at your computer too long? The whites of your eyes can look fuzzy or yellow. Hold a teaspoon under cold water then press the spoon to your eyes to get rid of the fuzzies. This also works for women who wear glasses since glasses prevent oxygen from getting to your eyes and they the skin can get dark or sweaty. Hm. Interesting. Has anyone tried the Mayonnaise facial thing? Avocados?

Any tips for beauty or health that you can share with me today? Lord knows, I need all the help I can get. What about general health? I've been feeling listless lately and I get tired so easily. A friend recommended Vitamin D because as we age and if we're not in the sun much we tend to lose that. I'm keeping a bottle on my desk, by my computer lately so I don't forget to take it. Just started this so I'll let you know how it works. What about exercise? The kind that works up a good GLOW? The way I figure it, every little bit of advice helps.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So many TV premieres, so little time!

I am so hooked on all the premieres airing this week.

Heroes. I love that show. I have to admit, sometimes there seems to be so much going on that I just can't keep up. Sylar has been captured. I soooo didn't see that coming! And Elle, am I the only one who feels sorry for her now that her dad is dead? Nathan has gone over the deep end. Peter is still trying to fix the future, while mommy dearest contiues to prove just how completely evil she can be. God, with a mother like that it's amazing those guys turned out normal at all. She's like Cruella Devil. My favorite character, Hiro, has continued on with his destiny by seeking the all important formula. Mohinder...well, Mohinder looked hot, didn't he? It actually felt strange to think that. He's always been the cute scientist, but the other day he was totally buff! LOL Claire, ah, poor Claire. She's forever the unique one. And now she's even more unique because she can't feel...that can't be a good thing. And what about Micah? Where is he? I loved his character. Trying to predict what will happen next in this show is surely an act in futility!

Criminal Minds. I freaking love Derek Morgan. He's so damn smokin' hot. I really really want to see him and Garcia hook up. But then that may change the dynamics of their relationship too much. Not sure. I just love their cute, flirty banter. It really makes the show. I've said it once, I'll say it again, they ever get rid of those two and I'll stop watching all together. Did you see the premiere? I was on the edge of my seat when Morgan took that ambulance/bomb out. When it exploded I was right there with Garcia, tissues, tears, ready to smack him for putting himself in danger! God, he's such a hero, I love it!

Supernatural. My favorite show on television, without a doubt. I love this show. I love Dean and Sam and Bobby. I'm not sure about Sam using his powers and hiding it from Dean. What do you guys think of that? And the fact that he's still in contact with Ruby. This feels like a bad idea to me. Will Sam turn dark this season? And who the heck is the new guy?! Is he really one of God's angels, or do you think he's full of crap there? Either way he's seriously powerful, huh? What he did to that psychic, damn. That was so not cool!

and the new shows I'm looking forward to seeing!


Eleventh Hour


& Trust Me

***Also, does anyone know when Burn Notice, Psych and The Closer come back on? Was that a wild ending to Burn Notice or what? And The Closer, damn I do NOT want Sanchez to die! Hasn't he been through enough with his brother's death?

So, what has you addicted these days? Are you like me, praising the person who created DVR?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interview with Toni Blake

I've been lucky enough to interview someone who is not only one of my FAVORITE authors but also one of the sweetest people I know, Toni Blake (she also writes as Lacey Alexander). She's a fantastic writer and a really down to earth gal who writes with deep emotions and really HOT love scenes. Enjoy!

Kelley: You write steamy contemporary romance as Toni Blake and erotic romance under the name Lacey Alexander. Does it sometimes get confusing keeping it all straight?

Toni: I’m never confused when I write – I’m always firmly grounded in the story I’m telling, no matter which “one of me” is telling it ; ) But it can be confusing when I’m at booksignings or other professional events, and I have, on rare occasions, been known to write the wrong name in a book I’m signing. And it’s a lot of *work* to write as two people – I maintain two websites, send out two newsletters, host two ongoing contests, and I write for three different publishers. But mostly that’s a matter of learning to be a good juggler. ; )

Kelley: What made you venture into the more erotic side of romance as Lacey?

Toni: About five years ago, my career was lagging and I was “between publishers” – which is a nice way of saying I couldn’t sell a book. ; ) My agent was shopping around the book that eventually became my first Toni Blake single title novel, THE RED DIARY, but in the meantime, a few of my author friends suggested it would be a good time to try something totally new, for a change of pace. So I decided to try my hand at erotica with an eye toward approaching Ellora’s Cave, who was just starting to build a name for themselves. I thought it would be a one-book effort, something I did for fun, and I didn’t do any research or even read any erotica – I basically had this vision in my head of what I thought would make good erotica for women, and I wrote it. I was stunned when, three days after I submitted the book, it sold – and Lacey Alexander was born. I was even more stunned when EC asked me for more books and the Lacey part of my work became a much more significant part of my career than I’d ever imagined.

Kelley: You know I'm a huge fan of both your Toni and Lacey books because they're so emotionally charged. I love it when an author can write, knock your socks off hot but also completely entangle me emotionally with the characters. Do you get emotionally wrapped up in your characters journey and if so is it hard for you to let them go when you finish a book?

Toni: Absolutely. And thanks for the nice compliment, by the way. : ) But yes, I write from a place of “deep point of view,” meaning I try to get really deeply inside my characters’ heads – I think of it as being “in their skin.” So I get very attached. Probably more so to the Toni Blake characters, because those books are longer and more emotionally complex, and the characters usually have more “issues” to work out – and just as you said, when I finish a Toni book, it can be hard to say goodbye. I think that’s why I enjoy polishing my own work so much – I get to revisit my characters. : ) And I’m very excited about the fact that I’m starting a series for Avon, because that means I’ll be able to revisit past characters in future books – and so will readers, which I hope they will enjoy. That said, I also really enjoy developing the Lacey characters, too, who are a lot of fun to shape and watch grow.

Kelley: Your books are all super sexy. How do you keep your love scenes so fresh and passionate book after book?

Toni: That’s a great question. And I think it has to do with what I was talking about up above – being in the characters’ skin. Writing those love scenes from deep within that hero or heroine’s point of view. Their personalities, their pasts, their present, where they are in the relationship and in their life – all of that and more comes into each sex scene and makes it so that the scene “belongs” to those two characters and could not take place between any *other* two characters or in any other book. I try to fill my sex scenes with emotion – not always just romance, but any emotion or thought that the character might be experiencing at the time – and those emotions drive exactly what happens as the scene progresses.

Kelley: Is there any other genre you'd like to write in the future?

Toni: I would LOVE to write historical romance AND historical erotica. I’ve penned a few historical romances in my day, but they were back before I first sold and started building my career, so they’ve never seen the light of day, unfortunately. But I have a huge passion for history, to the degree that I’ve been known to read history textbooks for fun, and I love combining my passions – like history and writing. So I hope I will someday get the opportunity to explore this.

Kelley: If you could chose one of your books to be turned into a movie which one would it be and who would you like to play the main characters?

Toni: Wow, hard question. SWEPT AWAY would make a fun movie, in my personal opinion, with all the beach scenes mixed with all the danger and shooting. ; ) Plus there’s a lot of “banter” between Brock and Kat that I think would translate well in a movie. And I think LETTERS TO A SECRET LOVER would be a fun flick, too. I don’t know if it’s because I wrote that book more recently, but I can very clearly “see” it, like a movie in my mind, complete with all the humor and banter between Rob and Lindsey. As for who would play the roles, I never come up with good answers for that – no current actors or actresses usually seem to fit my “vision” of my characters. But whoever played Rob Colter would definitely have to be tall, dark, and brawny. ; )

Kelley: Alright I have to know, your stranded an island that has everything you need to survive but you can only bring three books with you. Which ones would you bring?

Toni: Oooh, that’s very tough.

Book one – Chronicle of the World – this is HUGE book that features newspaper style articles on every significant happening in known history. It’s huge, and entertaining. I set out to read it about fifteen years ago, but only got about a tenth of the way through. But it would provide some long-lasting reading AND lots of history.

Book two – The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven – this is a prose book that reads like poetry and was written in the early 90s by an old friend of mine, poet Sherman Alexie. The beauty of the prose makes it very easy to re-read.

Book three – Sunrise Song by Kathleen Eagle – because I HAVE to take a romance, right? And this is one of very few books that I recall ever keeping me up all night reading, back around 1996 or so.

Kelley: What can we expect to see from both Toni and Lacey in the future?

Toni: Lacey has a few things coming out fairly soon. Pocket will release ON SANTA’S NAUGHTY LIST, an anthology in association with Ellora’s Cave, featuring my novella, UNWRAPPED, in November. Then in February, Penguin will release my next full-length novel, THE BIKINI DIARIES, which is, of course, super-erotic and a lot of beachy fun. : ) And spring, I believe, will also bring the release of the long-awaited, ADRIANNA’S UNDIES, Book 3 of the City Heat series, from Ellora’s Cave. Readers can learn more at www.LaceyAlexander.net

Toni, as I mentioned briefly above, is embarking on a series for Avon, which I’m super excited about! The series is set in the quaint small town of Destiny, Ohio and the first book, ONE RECKLESS SUMMER, will be released next June. In it, the ultimate good girl and police chief’s daughter, Jenny Tolliver, will meet up in the woods one night with what is possibly the baddest bad boy I’ve ever written, Mick Brody – and two worlds will literally collide! ; ) This book is super, super sexy and filled with lots of gut-wrenching emotion, and I hope readers will love it. And they can learn more about my Toni Blake books at www.ToniBlake.com. Also, a few of my most devoted readers have recently started a reader discussion group (as you know, Kelley, since you are an active and much-beloved member : ) ) where we have lots of fun, chatting, and prizes, and we always love adding new members. So any Toni readers who think this sounds fun should definitely join us at www.yahoogroups.com/groups/ToniBlakeFans . : )

Kelley: Thank you so much for satisfying our curiosity today, Toni!

Thank YOU, Kelley, so much, for a really fun interview! I truly enjoyed it! : )

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Do you LIKE it? Short or Long?

Hmmm. Naughty question, huh? Nah...not really since I'm talking book length here and not the length of...well, you KNOW.

Was talking with a friend yesterday who mentioned that I'd become adept at writing shorter stories. It's funny. I'd never thought of it before but she was right! I actually didn't write my first novella until last year. All my other stories were full length novels and I remember when I wrote Hot Night at the Blue Bug Saloon that I was really nervous. Didn't think I could do it and have a GOOD story. I worried I wouldn't be able to do the kind of character development that I like to write so much.

Once I got my brain wrapped around it though, it was FUN. It was different and it was just what I needed to get myself jump-started after a number of years writing longer stuff. Now I pretty much only write novellas or shorter and I find I like it. My newest erotic (the historical Made for Mischief) is a full length but most of my releases and upcoming releases are much shorter. Now that doesn't mean I won't write a longer story in the future but, for now, this suits me fine.

Thinking about this further, I realized that I really, really LOVE sinking my teeth into a long story. Love the twists and turns and expansive character development in my personal reading material. The big problem for me these days is TIME. Do you have time to settle in and read a long book or do you find yourself, like me, so pressed for time that a shorter book fits your reading schedule perfectly.

Thank GOD we don't really have to choose because there are so many reading choices out there. Short or long? What's your choice?

Monday, September 22, 2008

The oddities of the Internet

I’ve never talked openly about the horrible episode a few years ago where I had a stalker. I’m going to share this story with you all today in the hopes that it’ll help someone understand how dangerous the internet can be.

Let’s go back a few years. Before I was published. Before I had a pen name. I had discovered the wonderful world of romance books. I didn’t always read romance. I read thrillers and suspense mostly, sometimes mysteries. Romance never interested me. Until I picked up a book by Madeline Baker. She turned me onto a world of love, desire, and even adventure. I hadn’t realized what I’d been missing. I frequented the used bookstores in an attempt to get caught up. There were so many great authors! It wasn’t long before I was checking out their websites and joining their yahoo loops in an effort to hear about the latest releases and maybe get a sneak peak into the author’s life. It was on one such group that I met Jan (renaming her here, just in case). Her and I hit it off right away. I felt like I’d found my long lost sister or something. We had a lot of the same interests, the same favorite authors, the same insecurities, etc. Our relationship moved from the groups and boards, to private emails and instant messaging. Soon, we were exchanging phone numbers. She sent me pictures of herself and her boyfriend. She’d tell me about her life. How she grew up. I’d talk to her about my kids and husband. It was really neat meeting someone I could so easily relate to.

Then things changed. She started to get possessive. If I talked to another girl on one of the groups, she’d email asking why. As if I were somehow stepping out on her. At first I chalked it up to her need for friendship. We all have our issues, after all. But pretty soon she was joining all the groups I was on. Going to the writerspace chat room when I was there to monopolize my time. It started to feel very suffocating to me. I liked this girl, we were friends, but it got to be too much. When I brought it up to her she sort of apologized and backed off some. I thought that would be the end of it. I was SO wrong. Things got even more bizarre. I found out that she’d been going to writerspace and logging in as me, chatting with people there as if she were me. She’d post to the boards as me. Don’t ask me how she got my password info. but she did. I IM’d her and asked her to stop, ‘I know what you’re doing’, I said. She called me, screaming and crying. She went on and on about how I never have time for her, that all I do is spend time with my husband and kids. I tried to sooth her, but that only made things worse. I explained that we needed to call it quits for awhile. She disagreed. Big time. I got more phone calls from her. Threatening my kids. Telling me she would cut them into pieces if I didn’t answer her emails. She’d call and taunt me about how close she lived to me and how easy it be for her to show up in the middle of the night and kill us in our sleep.

My husband and I were freaked. As you can imagine. For one, I never dreamed I’d end up with a female stalker. Two, I never thought Jan capable of the things she talked about doing to me and my girls. We discussed going to the police, but we realized pretty quick that it could possibly make her even more angry with me and I wasn’t really sure she’d given me her real name anyway. Still, we knew we needed to do something. We changed our phone number right away. I deleted all my online accounts. Took myself off all the yahoo loops and message boards. Got rid of IM and went off the internet entirely. And I do mean entirely. Doors stayed locked during the day and if I went anywhere with the girls I let my husband know where I was going and how long I'd be gone. I didn’t sleep comfortably for probably a good year. Every single time a car went by our house I worried it was her following through on her threat. Should we have gone to the police? Probably, but to be honest we'd never had to deal with somethingl like this. We didn't know what, if anything, the police could do. After all, she hadn't done anything, other than make threats. Nevertheless, when we finally decided it was safe to go back online, I just happened to come across a woman who also knew Jan. She told me that Jan got fired from her job as a nanny. A nanny? This was the first I’d heard of her being a nanny. I was shocked to learn that while Jan was IM’ing me and chatting on the phone and using the internet, it was at her employer’s house. When she was supposed to be babysitting, she was playing around on their computer. This mutual friend also told me that Jan had since moved out of town and no one had heard from her.

I never heard from Jan again after that. Thank God.

I tend to be very careful while online these days and I value my privacy very much. If I share personal info. with someone I expect it to stay private. I publish under a pseudonym in part because of Jan. I only give out my phone number to people I’ve onlined with for a very long time. I’m careful who sees my kids pictures and I’m extra cautious not to visit the places she used to hang out. My passwords are ultra complicated and I’m constantly changing them.

I think the biggest lesson I learned in all this is that stalkers aren’t just men and they don’t come with a label attached. Jan was a sweet, easygoing gal who loved to tell jokes and read romance novels. Who knew she led such a phony life? There was no way I could have predicted how crazy she would get. I’ve often wondered if I somehow caused her to go over the edge. And not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself, why me? What made Jan so possessive and needy with me? I don’t think she was like this all the time. So, why me? I’ll never know the answers to those questions. All I can do is look forward and hope it never happens again.

So, have you ever had a similar episode, whether online or in ‘real’ life? If so, what did you do?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

First "loves"

Yesterday while browsing the cheese section at my local grocery store I heard a song that goes all the way back to my thirteen year old, boy crazy childhood. I can't hear the song, End of the Road by Boys II Men without thinking of my first "love", my first major crush, a boy named Dustin. I had it BAD for this boy. I was the new girl at school when I walked into Mr. Haas social studies class. As I'm walking to find a seat I hear a voice say to me, "Cool shirt" (It was of a very popular group at the time). I turned toward the voice and my heart immediately sped. A very cute boy with blond hair and blue eyes smiled at me. It was love at first sight (or so I thought at the time). I shyly told him thank you and moved on to my seat but from then on, my seventh grade year would be spent daydreaming about Dustin. Eventually I met a few friends, one named Dee Dee and one named Amanda. Dee Dee and I were both new to town and but we quickly found out who the popular boys in school were. Dustin, John and Beau. Well of course Dee Dee fell in love with John and Amanda with Beau. We giggled about these three boy, signed our names with their last names and even made up code words for them(Amanda's heart went Beau Beau instead of bom bom). What we should have done is use those codes in the letters we wrote back and forth. One fell into the wrong boys hands and of course he had to tell Dustin, John and Beau about the girls who crushed on them. I was mortified but Dustin took it in stride. He really was one of the nicest boys. Even though he didn't return my feelings he was always very nice to me and didn't embarrass me in any way. Toward the end of the year we were having a school dance. This would have been my first dance to ever attend. My friends and I went together, none of us wanting to go with any boys since it couldn't be Dustin, John or Beau. I remember the three of us were standing by the double doors that led into the gym where the dance was held. The song End of the Road came on and we were all being dramatic thirteen year old girls bummed out because the boys we liked didn't like us. We turned to go outside when I heard someone say, "Kelley". From this point on everything happened in slow motion. I turned to see Dustin standing about ten feet away from me. He didn't say a word just held up one hand and crooked his finger to tell me to come here. I almost melted! I slowly walked toward him and he asked me to dance. I swear I don't think my heart has EVER beat as fast as it did at that minute. It was a thirteen year old girls dream come true. He walked me to the corner and we started to dance. I could FEEL my face jump up to about 200 degrees I swear. My girlfriends, crazy as they were stood by the wall and started cheering for me!!! I was more than mortified at the time to hear Amanda and Dee going "Go Kelley" while I danced with Dustin. I look back on it right now and smile. Once the song ended he thanked me for the dance and my two girlfriends immediately grabbed my hands and pulled me to the bathroom where I started to CRY like a baby while they all hugged me and giggled. Its one of my all time favorite memories. Each time I hear that song I'm that thirteen year old girl again who is in love with a boy who doesn't love me back but he's sweet enough to make my night by dancing with me. I don't know many boys that age who would do something like that. He was a special boy and deserved to be my first love. He ended up moving to Seattle our freshman year in high school. When I was a senior a girl from school who still talked to him said that he'd asked her about me. She told him I was doing good and he told her to tell me hi and that a day didn't go by that he didn't think of me. My heart melted all over again.

I can't help to wonder what ever happened to the first boy who stole my heart with his dreamy blue eyes and gentle soul. I think he'll hold a place in my heart for the rest of my life.

So, do you remember your first "love" or huge crush? What was his name? Any cute stories about him?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Truth. Stranger than Fiction?

The funniest thing happened to me a few days ago. Let me start by saying...YES, I ocassionally have major BLONDE MOMENTS and, okay, I had one. We've been doing major renovations at my house and I have workers crawling around all over the place. I'll be living with this crap for about a month so please send chocolate and little umbrella drinks because I'll need them to see me through.

Last weekend, I cleaned closets, drawers and basically moved things out of the way. A huge job and yes, I finally reached a point of exhaustion that I just wanted it DONE. I made it to a drawer full of stuff. Old manuscripts that will never see the light of day and copies of synopsis that had been sent to publishers in New York and returned with a "thanks but no thanks." Why was I keeping this stuff? Now, when I did my closet, I looked at clothes and figured if I hadn't fit my fat ass in them during the past twenty years, it was a goner. Straight into the bag for Salvation Army. I did the same with this drawer full of paperwork. I didn't pay a lot of attention, just started shoving the papers in a trash bag which was later hauled off.

This is where the story gets interesting. A couple of nights later I got a call from a man I'd never met. He'd been going through a dumpster (why I don't KNOW). He called me by name and said he'd found some papers that said SYNOPSIS that included my name, address, phone number and social security number. I think my eyes must've bugged right out of my head. The family got very quiet. He went on to say that he was sure I didn't want that information floating around out there and would it be okay if he destroyed these papers for me.

Did I pee my pants???? Almost. It was one of the DUMBEST things I'd ever done! No, my husband didn't kill me but it was a close thing. Maybe he took pity on me because I was so busy trying to kick my own ass.

When I talked with other writer friends about the stupid thing I'd done, one said...hm, sounds like a good story to me. Then another chimed in. Then another. A story began to form in my head and so in the middle of this awful thing, I found a way to work everything out.

Has anything ever happened in your personal life that you've turned into a kickass story? As a reader, have you ever gone somewhere on vacation or done something interesting that you thought might MAKE at good story? And, just to make me feel better, what's one of the dumbest things you've ever done? Will it help me feel not quite so DUMB? I doubt it, but give it a whirl.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

people of color

It's so hilarious to me how people react to something out of the norm. My daughter and I went shopping the other day for her birthday. Spent the day at the mall, had lunch at Max & Ermas. It was a lovely day all in all. But, I always crack up at the reaction Kati gets to her hair color. She has bright pink bangs. I think it's darling and I love that she's not afraid to express her own individuality. But, she does get some wild looks.

Sometimes she even gets nasty comments from the other kids at school. Does that make her want to change her hair back to its normal color? Nope. She likes the pink and that's that. Don't you love it? A kid who doesn't give in to peer pressure. It's what every mom dreams of, right? However, I've gotten some serious shit from other mothers who just don't understand why I let her do that to her hair. Even family members. Hello! Get a clue! She's 15 and just feeling her way around in this crazy world. I see no problem with that. In fact, I think its great that she doesn't let others narrowmindedness alter her personality. The girl loves pink. Hell, she loves color! I think that's wonderful.

I feel the same about my youngest daughter. She hates pink. She'd rather wear her favorite team jersey any day of the week. It's a pleasure to have two kids with such unique taste. I wouldn't want to change them, not for anything. Why do people have such a problem with differences? Can't we be more tolerant? Haven't we learned anything over the years? The world is changing. All I have to say to those who judge others is this: you'd better catch up!

Now for a few pictures of my crazy kids. Yes, they keep me hopping and thank God too!
Kati's new eyeshadow. We found lots of colors the other day and she was in heaven!

Kati's pink hair. She had one boyfriend who hated it. Needless to say, he didn't last long. LOL!

Alisha...expressing herself, lol.

Last but not least, Alisha duct taped to a chair. And yes, she asked to be duct taped. Don't worry she duct taped Kati next. I have to tell you, I sent this picture to their grandparents and my dad had a cow. "duct taped is expensive!' LOL He doesn't understand that in the grand scheme of things, duct tape is actually fairly cheap. He should check out some of those Wii games! Now that's an expensive way to entertain yourself!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Flying by the seat of my pants

I want to talk about plotters or pansters today but not only in regards to our writing but our daily lives as well. I have a friend, she isn't a writer but in her daily life she's a plotter. Each night she make a list of everything she has to do the next day. If she's going shopping, instead of "flying by the seat of her pants" she goes in with a specific list of everything she'll need on her trip. And I can tell you, she always gets everything done! No matter how big that list is she manages to make it happen.

I run my daily life pretty much the way I write. I have a basic idea of what I need to do then I run with it. That works for me. Nine of out ten days I get done what I'm supposed to get done. It works with my writing too. I start with an idea. I may have a few scenes in my head from the beginning but mainly I just start writing and let the story lead me.

If you're a writer are you a plotter or a fly by the seat of your pants kind of gal? Do you work the same way in your day to day life? If you're not a writer are you a lister? Do you schedule out your days before hand or just kind of go with the flow?

On a side note I got a new cover. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Decompression! Isn't there a Chamber for THAT???

All the really good sci-fi movies have decompression chambers' don't they? Okay...where do I find one? Dang! About everyone I know is stressed out right now. Some with frustrating works in progress, some with jobs and radical bosses, others with money or publishers. Whatever!

Sometimes things just start piling on and never stop. Right now, my big problem has to do with a construction project going on at my house. It began over the weekend and will continue into infinity. GRRRRR. Send Godiva please...maybe a nice bottle of wine. Think I'm gonna need it. How about some bubbles and a nice hot bath?

How do you decompress? Forget your troubles? For me, I seriously DO love a nice hot bath with bubbles, lighted candles (scented, naturally) and a glass or two (maybe a whole bottle) of a nice pinot noir. Seriously makes me sigh and forget my troubles. For many it's a great book, a funny movie and just lunch (or a phone chat) with a friend.

I do have some great news however. My newest book (an erotic regency) Made for Mischief is out today at Resplendence Publishing. I'm very excited about this. Naturally this is a hot, hot, hot story but it also features a mystery and some fun and quirky characters.

So if you like it HOT and HISTORICAL, pick up Made for Mischief.



All she really wanted was one naughty night before returning to her life as a sheltered country spinster! Crawling beneath a bed in London’s most notorious brothel was beyond the pale, even for known eccentric Arabella Spencer. Little did she imagine that lust, desire, and yes, love was just within her grasp.
When Grayson St. James, Lord Mercer, newly returned from fighting Napoleon, dragged a squirming, dusty bluestocking from beneath his bed, he was…well..aghast! She wanted adventure, did she? She wanted to learn about sex, did she? He was just the man to teach her! As a vow of vengeance and a case of mistaken identity unite Grayson and Arabella in a common goal, the dour Lord Mercer finds himself laughing for the first time in longer than he can recall but will an unknown threat bring them together or tear their world apart?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lazy weekend--but I brought hotties!

I'm having a lazy Saturday. Spending time with my kiddos and getting some writing done. Other than that my mind has gone TOTALLY BLANK (yeah, I know, didn't have too far to go, huh? LOL). I decided when all else fails...post some hotties. So, I hope you enjoy these gorgeous pieces of man flesh. Have a great weekend! Everyone in hurricane Ike's path please be safe!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Let's all say...AHHHHHH

Maybe it's because the weekend's almost here but I've been thinking about movies and it's been a long time since I've been to one. My last movie was Mamma Mia (which I looooved btw). The other day I was talking about Disney movies and being a complete sap about tearing up over them.

I'm a girl who loves a good romance movie but considering what I do for a living that's not all that surprising. I love movies that make me sigh, make me cry, and make me go ahhhhh!!!

Now I'm not completely crazy. I can't narrow my favorite romantic movies to just one. Dang, I probably have several dozen favorite all-time tear jerker, romantic flicks but I'm going to try to name a few anyway. Dr. Zhivago was one of the most romantic movies. Don't know if you've see it but it's an oldie. Beautifully made, scored, and well, just everything. Omar Shariff played the young doctor Yuri during the Russian Revolution and through a twist of fate meets the peasant girl, Lara (played by Julie Christie). You KNOW their love affair amid war and difficult times, isn't going to end well but the whole thing is just so romantic anyway. The movie is full of troikas and ice palaces, action and undying love. And some of the most beautiful music.

It's one of my favorites along with Gone With the Wind. Yeah,I know, another movie about war. But it's also about love and perhaps one of the sexiest scenes ever made was the one where Rhett carried Scarlett up that loooooong flight of stairs. Unforgettable.

Now, I'm probably seriously dating myself but when I was a young teen, Love Story was the big DATE MOVIE. Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw portrayed the perfect college lovers. He gave up his life of wealth and priviledge to marry the sassy girl from the wrong side of the tracks. This movie was so popular and everybody knew the famous line...love means never having to say you're sorry. Sappy, I know, but every guy in town took his girl to see that movie just so he could hold her close as she dissolved into tears at the end. AHHHHH. My kind of movie.

Now I don't have a picture of this movie but I seriously love the period flick Sense and Sensibilities with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslett and Hugh Grant. Based on the Jane Austen novel, this is my kind of romance. It's, to me, unforgettable. The scene at the end with Emma Thompson's character and Hugh Grant's hero has me...sniff, sniff...weeping. EVERY TIME. There's just something about her character holding it all together for everyone else. Telling her sister about her broken heart isn't something she would do. She holds everything deep, deep inside. And just when she thinks all is lost....well, you'll have to watch the movie.

So grab a box of kleenex, a bottle of wine, and some of the best chocolate you can find and tell me what YOU would watch when you want a romance fix.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


How about an excerpt from my upcoming Samhain release, Burn? This story comes out Jan 6th...It's so hot I had a hard time finding an excerpt suited to the blog. LOL
a woman scorned...can be damned delicious!
Ally Ryan and Blake Steele were high school sweethearts. In love and inseparable. Ally always assumed she’d be his wife. Raise his babies and live happily ever after. Those dreams were shattered the day Blake left her and his small town life for the bright lights of New York City.

Now, ten years later, Blake is back. He wants to pick up where they left off. Ally has other ideas. Naughty ideas. With the help of her kinky girlfriend, Heather, Ally shows Blake her wild side. When her little plan backfires though, Ally’s very much afraid that she may lose the only man she’s ever loved, for good.

Warning: This title contains explicit sex, graphic language, anal play, ménage a troi (m/f/f), whips and whipped cream.
I pulled my Lexus into the grocery store parking lot and found a spot. The only available space was at the back. Figured. Not that it mattered. I needed the extra exercise. Being a writer, sitting for hours a day, usually meant a little extra to love, especially in the rear. I turned off the engine and checked my hair and makeup one last time, then left the car.
Ever since the phone call with Blake, he’d been in my head. Invading my dreams. Slipping in under the cracks when I least expected it. Two days after that call and I could still feel his deep voice in my ear. It was crazy after all these years, carrying a torch for a guy who threw me away without so much as batting an eye. Dumb. I’d already given myself a stern lecture—several of them. It wasn’t doing any good.
As the doors slid open, a draft of cold air hit me, cooling my overheated skin in an instant. The dog days of August were in full swing. The overbearing heat made me glad I’d worn shorts and a tank. I grabbed a cart and forced my mind on my mental list of foodstuffs. It was Thursday and tomorrow Heather was flying in for a visit. Since she lived in Florida, most of our visiting was done through email and phone calls. As wild as Heather was, her trip to Lancaster was bound to wake up the sleepy little town. Hard telling what she’d get into. Already I was getting jazzed. It was a rare treat for me to play hostess, and I was aching to cook up something fun in the kitchen.
As I imagined the dishes I planned to prepare, I wasn’t watching where I was walking and smacked my cart into a wall. When I looked up, my mouth fell open. Not a wall.
I tried to swallow, tried to speak, but there seemed to be a rather large rock wedged into my throat. Finally I managed a squeaky, “Blake?”
We both just stood there, staring. It seemed neither of us knew what to say. My heart sped to a wild gallop. Every feeling I ever had for him came back like a monsoon. A floodgate tore open and the emotions poured through. And, oh wow, he’d definitely aged well. Blake was gorgeous as a teenager, but as an adult, he was delicious.
My body liquefied as I took in his long, muscled legs and massive shoulders. His six-foot-plus frame filled out the charcoal-gray suit like nobody’s business, too. I noticed his hair hadn’t changed much. It was still the same dark shade of espresso and tossed about as if he’d just stepped off a motorcycle. Knowing Blake, he probably had. Damn it. Pornographic thoughts slid around in my brain. I felt like a total perv.
A wave of self-consciousness came over me as I imagined what he’d think of the way I’d aged. Would he like what he saw? I watched him blink his sexy blue eyes several times, then look me over. Slowly. When his gaze rested once more on my face, I spoke.
His voice sounded hoarse, like a man turned on. I crushed that thought and stepped forward, took him into my arms. “It’s good to see you again.”
Blake’s arms came around my waist as he hugged me tight. Really tight. Almost as if he didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to think of that right now, so I pulled away.
“Parents got you grocery shopping already?”
He rolled his eyes. “Mom’s been cooking up a storm. I’m going to get fat if I don’t find an apartment soon.”
“You have a ways to go before you have to worry about that.” He looked so damn edible I wanted to scoop him up and purchase him for dinner tomorrow night!
He laughed. “Thanks, but between the errands and the dinners, I’m starting to feel like I’m back in high school again. I’m waiting for Mom to give me a curfew.”
The mention of high school was what did it. I didn’t want to think about the last time we’d been together. “Well, good seeing you again. I better get moving.” I grabbed the handle on the cart and started to move around him. He placed his hand on my forearm. My gaze darted to his.
“You sure you don’t want to have dinner with me?”
God, this was too cruel. Seeing him. Wanting him. Walking away from him. No woman was that strong. But I surprised myself when I said, “I’m sure. Take care of yourself, Blake.”
Then, before I could rethink my decision, I moved off, leaving him standing there. My legs felt like rubber. My stomach ached. Being the one to walk away wasn’t as satisfying as I’d thought. In fact, it sucked.


As I ticked off the last item on my list, I went to the checkout. I needed to escape. When I reached my car, Blake called my name. I popped the trunk and turned around to see him sprinting toward me, two bags in each hand.
Without preamble, he said, “I couldn’t let you leave without this…” He leaned down as if to kiss me, and I gave him my cheek. He stopped an inch from my skin. I could feel his hot breath, and desire rushed through my body. He smelled the same. His scent threw me back in time. I shuddered. He chuckled, kissed me briefly and straightened. “You always were a temptation.”
I wanted to protest that ridiculous statement, but he looked me over one more time and growled, “You look good, Ally. Real good.” Then he walked away.
He was several feet across the lot before my heart started back up. Oh, God. This denial business was going to be a lot harder than I’d imagined.
I finished putting the groceries in the trunk, slammed it closed and got in behind the wheel. It was his kiss that did it. An idea had started to take shape the instant his lips touched my skin. Maybe I could give Blake the date he so badly wanted. Only with a twist. I smiled and reached for my purse lying in my lap...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Summer Lovin'

I'm talking about my favorite romance reads of the summer. I read some really great books the past few months. I'm sure I probably forgot one or two but here are some of my favorites. Check out these reads. You seriously won't regret it!

Museum director Mandy Cooper has always been obsessed with nineteenth-century artist Catherine Burke—and the artist’s erotically charged relationship with Atacar, her enthralling American Indian lover. But Mandy’s link to the legendary couple runs deeper than she knows. She’s having a heated affair herself—with Jared Cabrillo, Atacar’s perilously handsome great-great nephew. And the consuming passion Atacar once used to seduce Catherine is now being engaged by Jared. He knows precisely what it takes to move a woman…
He’s in possession of Catherine’s wildly explicit journal. He knows every intimate detail of what she wanted and needed. But he also knows how desperately Catherine had loved Atacar and how dangerously he’d loved her. The journal is timeless and tragic, and the secrets contained within its pages can bring Mandy and Jared together, or just as surely destroy them both—desire by shocking desire.
What I thought:
LOVED this book. The sex scenes with Jared and Mandy are creative and sexy as hell. They play some really hot sex games that had me downing ice water while devouring the book. What really got to me about the book are the journal entries between Catherine and Atacar. Sensual, sexy, tender, and heart touching. I was enthralled with their story. It touched me on a unique level that not many books can do.
Cheri's Website

Eleven thousand years ago a god was born. Cursed into the body of a human, Acheron endured a lifetime of hatred. His human death unleashed an unspeakable horror that almost destroyed the earth. Brought back against his will, he became the sole defender of mankind.
Only it was never that simple...
For centuries, he has fought for our survival and hidden a past he never wants revealed.
Now his survival, and ours, hinges on the very woman who threatens him. Old enemies reawaken and unite to kill them both.
War has never been more deadly... or more fun.
What I thought:
Wow! The first half of the book is Acheron's past. Heartbreaking to say the least but it makes you care so much more about the man he became despite what he went through. Knowing his past is a must. His heroine was strong and spunky. She fit him perfectly. His happily ever after is one I'd been waiting years to read.

The last thing she needs right now is a man

Lindsey Brooks had it all—an awesome job doling out advice to the lovelorn, a fabulous high-rise apartment, and a to-die-for fiance. But then she got dumped—wearing nothing but a Kiss the Cook apron—and desperate to escape, she retreats to a tiny Montana town to reclaim a family treasure. She never dreamed anyone would try to stop her – or that he’d be sexy as sin.
Too bad she finds such a hot one …
Rob Colter isn’t into relationships—but Lindsey sees Rob as the perfect guy to help her “get back on the horse.” The sex horse, that is. Unfortunately, he comes complete with a mysterious past, which gets even more mysterious when she finds his passionate letters to another woman – whose name happens to be tattooed on his chest.
And too bad he has so many secrets …
Now Rob’s dangerous past is about to catch up with them both. And if that’s not horrible enough, Lindsey is falling for him – hard. For a girl who usually has all the answers, Lindsey is up to her neck in trouble
What I thought:
It's no secret Toni Blake is one of my favorite authors and this book jumped right up near the top of my list of favorite Toni books. Lindsey was great. Loved her growth and feisty personality. Rob is a tortured hero to die for. This book had Toni's signature emotional connection blended with scorch the pages sensuality.

Four-alarm fires have nothing on him…

Howard may love being a firefighter and riding his Harley, but there’s nothing he values more than his bachelorhood. That is, until a feisty, curvaceous teacher named Kat McKenna falls into his arms at the scene of a fire—and melts the six-foot-six tower of bronze muscle…
But just as passion ignites between them—and they explore new heights of sexual ecstasy—a ruthless arsonist with a deadly secret and a thirst for vengeance becomes their worst nightmare…
What I thought:
I'd read multiple reviews that rated this book off the charts so I knew I had to pick it up. Howard, (not the typical name you hear in a romance but it fit him) is a special hero. He's a gorgeous, muscular, monster of a man who is vulnerable and and a little unsure of himself when it comes to Kat, the heroine but at the same time he is an Alpha male who loves to be totally dominant in the bedroom. The sex scenes are HOT. One of the more erotic books I've read that isn't listed as erotic but hits all the right places when you're reading it. Kat is confident, curvy woman makes no excused about her figure. Love that. The villain is pure evil and even though I figured out early on who it was I still couldn't turn the pages quick enough.
Jo's website

There you have it, some of my favorite reads of the summer. What about you? Add to my to be bought list. What are some of your favorite reads from this summer?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Enchanted, Swept Away, and HEA

Yesterday I took a little writing break and watched the movie "Enchanted" on TV. Call me a sap but I loooove Disney movies and though my kids are grown and "almost" grown, I still have the lovestruck works of wonder and fantasy and happily ever after's tucked away on my movie shelf. Sometimes my daughter and I will declare it to be Disney Day and we'll OD on Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and others. The kind of movies that make you go....ahhhhhh. Admittedly, I tear up at them but in a good way. I sigh. I smile.Why, you ask??? Because I love, love love a happy ending. So today I watched Enchanted for the second time and realized I have a serious love affair with happy ever afters.
Probably always will, so shoot me with cupid's arrow and hang my carcass in a floral bower because that is my fate, my destiny.
I read other things besides romance. Sometimes. Not often. And I know some might shake their heads that I seek some "culture" but I don't like to waste my time with stuff that doesn't make me HAPPY. That's the bottom line for me in books and, yes, movies. Anyone like Braveheart? Kickass movie. Mel is hot and you've gotta love the sight of all those brawny Scots warriors in face paint and kilts but I always have to quit watching at least twenty minutes before the end. I would prefer to rewrite my own ending in my head. Silly, I know, but that's just the way I think.
Remember a wonderful romance author who I loved. I say LOVED. Past tense. I grabbed every new release but then made the mistake of buying one of her titles and I'll be damned if she didn't kill off the heroine in the end. I was so pissed, I threw the book across the room and swore I'd never buy her work again. That was about ten years ago and I was true to my word. I never read her again.
Now to my question. Are you like me and crave a happy ever after or you okay with a happy for now? I know lots of romance publishers are okay with publishing both. As a reader and as a writer, what is your preference?
As for me, give me violins and singing doves. I want my happily ever after.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lora Leigh...and others like her

Today I'm keeping it simple. I need youre help! I've been reading Lora Leigh lately. She's my newest favorite author. I'm slowly working my way through her backlist. I've got a LOT to read still.

What I need is recommendations from YOU. Other authors who have a similar heat level, the same type of excitement. I'm mostly interested in other SEAL type storylines, lots of action, hot hot sex. Any ideas?

Right now I'm reading Wild Card. OMG! This story is so emotional. It's nearly killing me and I'm only about half way into it, maybe a little more than half way. I've loved her SEALs, her Nauti series too. I don't care so much for her Breed series. But can you all tell me what others of hers i should check out? And any authors like her? Please! I'm desperate here! LOL

Happy Monday! Yeah right! We had such a good, but long weekend. I'm so tired today I can hardly keep my eyes open. Coffee is NOT helping. We went furniture shopping. We called ahead to check and make sure they had the three piece living room set we wanted in stock. They sure did, she said. My husband said, 'you're sure? We live an hour a way and we're going to need to borrow a friend's truck to pick it up.' Again she swore they had it in stock. We got there, after driving an hour, had to pick up a friend's truck only to find out it wasn't in stock. The folks who helped us at the service desk were rude and acted as if it were our fault. They rolled their eyes and called another of their stoes. Ah-ha! They have it at their other store. We drive up there, half an hour, and no furniture and even worse customer service. We gave up on them at that point and went somwhere else. Got great service and the furniture will be delivered Thursday. No hassles, no waiting around. That first place lost out on a nearly $3,000 sale because of poor customer service.
And here's a hunk to brighten your day! Don't you love his smile. God, I never get tired of looking at this guy! :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trapped in the Storm

Hey everyone! Happy weekend. I'm sharing the blurb and excerpt from my new release, a short story from Red Rose Publishing called Trapped in the Storm. Hope you enjoy!

Look at what the storm blew in!

Is Stephanie in for the fight of her life as she tries to keep her emotions under control or will the heavy winds of the passion blow her away?

Stephanie Bridges can’t seem to get her ex-boyfriend out of her head. Or more importantly her heart.

She figures the best way to cope is to avoid the cocky, ladies man as much as possible. Unfortunately that’s easier said than done considering she’s the town carpenter and he owns the only hardware store around for miles.

When a monster storm blows into town leaving Stephanie and Luc trapped in Luc’s Hardware they’ll have the chance to recapture the magic she’d always felt they made together. That is, if they can stop fighting long enough to succumb to the desire still between them.

“I’m starved. You have anything to eat in this place?”
“I have a sandwich, chips, and cookies in my cooler. I didn’t have time to eat lunch earlier today.”
“Well break it out, Carr. We can split it if you don’t mind.”
“You’ll owe me,” he said with his wicked grin.
“I’ve got a couple bucks in my pocket. How will that do?”
Stephanie reached in her pocket pretending to grab money for Luc. She knew he didn’t want it, but she tried to beat him at his own game.
“Get you hand out of your pocket, Stephy. You know I don’t want your money.”
She smiled as they headed to the lawn and garden section. They shared a ham and cheese sandwich at a patio table, under a large sky-blue umbrella.
“Isn’t this like the one you wanted to buy for your house?” Luc asked between bites.
“Actually I did buy it,” she responded. “I went over to Hillside and bought one.”
A look of confusion washed over Luc’s face. “Why’d you drive forty miles each way to pick up a table when you could have driven five minutes and bought the same one from me?”
Men really were dense. “It happened right after we broke up, Luc. I was afraid it might be too hard on you to see me that soon,” Stephanie rushed the words from her mouth before taking her last bite of sandwich. In reality she was the one who couldn’t handle seeing him when she was so raw from the recent break-up. Pride pushed the lie from her mouth.
“I see,” the right side of Luc’s mouth rose in a half smile that made her want to jump his bones right there.
“You remember that job we did together over in Hillside?” he asked, eyes gazing into hers.
“Yeah, I remember,” she said with a small laugh. “You wouldn’t listen to me about the measurements being off. We got about half way done before we had to start over because I was right.” Stephanie smiled and exhaled a deep breath. “You always were too stubborn for your own good.”
Luc let out a loud, bellowing laugh. She felt his breath brush across her skin, leaving warmth in its wake.
“Now that’s the pot calling the kettle black, don’t ya think, Stephy?”
“I am not stubborn, Lucas Carr!” She knew she didn’t sound convincing. Hell, she knew she was stubborn as a mule.
“Of course you aren’t. I don’t know where that thought came from.”
God how she missed this, talking work, and laughing with him, joking and giving him a hard time. They could talk for hours, arguing half the time, but now that she thought about it, they had been meaningless arguments. They were a part of them, and what made their relationship, well, fun. Funny she should think of it now.
“We had some good times, didn’t we?” Luc’s green eyes sparked with sincerity.
“Yeah, I guess we did.”
They were each silent for the next few minutes. The only sound, the howling wind and loud banging drum of rain on the rooftop. Stephanie briefly wondered what other damage the storm had done besides what was done to her truck. There would no doubt be fallen trees and flooding on some of the properties by the river.
She tried with no avail to keep her mind off Luc and his intense stare. A moment later it became damn near impossible as she felt the warmth of Luc’s leg brush up against her own.
“We were good together, Stephy. I miss touching you.” Luc reached out and brushed his calloused fingers across her cheek.
She felt the familiar throb between her legs that always accompanied Luc’s body touching hers. Her nipples puckered and it became obvious there was no way around this. She wanted Luc and he wanted her; at least for today he did.
She let her mind grasp the concept of what he had just said to her. He didn’t miss her; he missed touching her. She knew they were good together sexually so it didn’t surprise her that Luc would bring it up now. Her heart wanted them to be good together in every way, but now, at this moment, sexually was better than nothing.
Her strength waned as she realized she could deny him no longer. She closed her eyes in a silent confirmation to herself, and to Luc.
“I miss touching you too, Luc. I miss being touched by you.” She opened her eyes in time to see desire brewing inside his darkening eyes and he offered his best bad boy smile. She came undone. “Touch me now, Luc.”

Available Here

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sooo...what have we learned?

Personally, I think we've had a great week here at Three Wicked Writers. So? What have we learned? Kelley wrote about things that tick us off. One of hers was bad manners and how important it is to teach them to our kids. When I read her post, I noticed more things as I went about my "in public" week. People clogging the aisles at the grocery store and a dozen other things. One of mine is drivers who gab on the cell phone and scare the hell out of the rest of us. Anne posted a GREAT interview with a Samhain editor. I talked about promotion stuff and it was really appropriate for me this week since TODAY, I have a new release at Ellora's Cave. So, yeah...promo hell here. Sigh.

Weren't the comments great? If you missed some of these suggestions, look back and read Tuesday's comments. Molly suggested magnetic strips (from Lowe's) that have a sticky back and can be applied to business cards for "make your own" magnets. Have you looked at the prices of magnets at some of these internet sites? Pretty expensive. I'm going shopping this weekend to look for the magnet sheets so thanks Molly. Alisha mentioned having a "basket of goodies" at your table during signings and offering a drawing. Another great idea. Anny Cook takes her e-reader everywhere and when she's showing it off, she has an excerpt of one of her books pulled up on it. She not only promotes her books but e-readers. Terrific! So many things just jumped out at me and I can't wait to try some of these ideas out.

Today I'll be chatting at Ellora's Cave chat group with LA Day from noon-4 est. So please come by and we'll TALK. :-)

Want a copy of Killer Curves, my hot racecar driver story? Buy it HERE!

Killer Curves
Regina Carlysle

After the death of her husband in a fiery crash, Carrie Martin Salem left the world of the racing circuit and retreated to Texas vowing to live a quiet and safe life. But old memories dig deep, leaving her longing for the friend she left behind. From the moment, J.T. Sims steps from the cab of his truck, Carrie knows it’s more than friendship she feels for the hottest racecar driver on Earth.
J.T. Sims never forgot the beautiful wife of his long-dead best friend. She’d had her time to grieve. She’d had years to pull herself together and now it was his turn, his time to reach out for the love he’s always wanted. His mission becomes convincing the pretty Texas lady that she’s strong enough to take what he’s offering. Nights of hot passion and days filled with love.

Excerpt: (adult)

He’d come for her.
Carrie couldn’t quite believe it but truth was there on his face, burning deep in those dark, brown eyes as he held her pinioned against the side of his truck. His cock pressed against her, burned hot through the crotch of her jeans and she mentally shook her head at the craziness of her position. They were friends. Weren’t they? Oh, no. Simple friends didn’t hold each other this way.
“Tell me what you mean, J.T.” Oh, God, her voice trembled. He’d rattled her for sure and she wasn’t a woman who rattled that easily after all she’d been through.
He wouldn’t be denied and she knew it. J.T.’s muscles bunched as he leaned closer, one tiny sexy increment and brushed his sensual lips against hers as if he planned a serious study on the textures of her mouth.
“I think you know exactly what I mean, sweetheart. I’ve been waiting. All this time just waiting,” he whispered in a rough voice. How did a man get such thick, black, curling lashes, she wondered inanely as his lips brushed hers leisurely, as if he had all the time in the world.
J.T. rolled his chest against her and Carrie felt her nipples draw up tighter. They stabbed against his muscled chest and she gasped. Lowering his face, he drank the sound, teased her bottom lip with this tongue, swiped it past her teeth and into the cavern of her mouth. A short quick claiming that stole her breath. When he drew back, smiling faintly, Carrie struggled to catch her breath.
He looked like a man who knew a sexy secret. Well, she had a few secrets of her own and he might not think quite so highly of her if he knew.
“I think you’d better let me down, J.T.” she said breathlessly, before she lost her nerve. One more kiss would have her tossing her good sense to the wind. One more taste of him would have her grinding her pussy against him and begging him to take her on the driveway in front of her house.
Was she that starved for sexual contact?
Oh, yeah. She was.
“What are you afraid of, honey? Me?” Obliging her, J.T. stepped back and slowly lowered her down the front of his body. His scent whipped around her, making her dizzy. His body was hard and strong and utterly edible.
She laughed a little. “You’re damn right I’m afraid of you. You’re a very scary man and too sexy for your own good. What do they put in those power drinks you’re always endorsing, huh? Testosterone?”
She’d wanted to lighten the moment and knew she’d succeeded when he chuckled and reached into the bed of his truck. He had his bag halfway out when he glanced at her over his shoulder. A dark brow winged up over one eye. “Can I bunk here, Carrie? Or I guess the better question is this—are you involved with anyone? Am I welcome?”
“No. There’s no one.” She noted the satisfied, cat-ate-the-canary look that flashed in his eyes and continued. Yeah, she knew it was a risky proposition for her heart but she was a hospitable southern woman. “And of course, you’re welcome. Please stay, J.T. There’s only one motel in Mesquite Creek and I think they only rent by the hour.”
Yes. Keep it light. Keep it fun. There was plenty of time later to find out just what the hell he was talking about.
J.T. laughed and finally pulled the duffel from the bed of his truck. “A real no-tell mo-tel, hm?”
“That’s about it.” She headed back toward the house and knew he followed. A little shiver skittered up her spine. He was watching her ass, the sneaky little devil, and she knew it, could feel his eyes exploring her curves. “I have plenty of room.”
“Yeah, I noticed. Nice big house you have here.”
“I like it. It’s quiet. Nobody bothers me out here.” She walked into the house, deep into the massive living room and spread her arms, smiling. “Home sweet home. You like?”
“Mm-yeah. A lot. The place looks like you. Classy but with touches of sweet thrown in.”
Carrie watched him take in her space as an unexpected thrill went through her at his words. He was one of the best parts of her past and his sincere compliment meant the world to her. “How long have you been driving, J.T.? Bet you’re beat.”
He laughed. “Not that beat. I wouldn’t turn down a shower though.”
“God. It’s great to see you. Really. I’m so glad you’re here. A surprise like this really jump starts my heart.”
“You look good. Better than good.”
“You think?”
“Yeah. Completely delicious.” Moving to her, a tiny smile curving his lips, he reached out and ran a finger through the loose, blonde curls that swept her shoulders. “You’ve let it grow. I like it.”
She met those rich, deep eyes and a blast of nostalgia grabbed her, tickled through her chest. Stopping herself from reaching out to pull him back into her arms, she flashed a grin. “Remember how you used to tease me about my short hair?”
He laughed. “You looked like a regular tomboy. Maybe I didn’t tell you often enough how cute I thought you were.”
“Cute, huh? Every woman’s dream description.” Carrie went serious. “I heard you came in third at Miami.”
“Did you watch?”
She shook her head. “You know I can’t watch them anymore.”
“I get that, sweetheart.” His voice lowered an octave, compassion heavy in his words.
“Anyway. I read all about it. Third isn’t too shabby.”
“Um, yeah. Did pretty good. Gearhardt was happy. Got a nice little bonus out of the deal.”
Gearhardt Racing, based in Houston, was J.T.’s team and, at one time, had been Mark’s as well. “Lots of endorsements, too, I hear.”
J.T. laughed. “Testosterone laced power drinks and a sandwich outfit. A candy company. Not bad.”
Chuckling, shaking her head, Carrie realized how very much she’d missed him. “How long will you be here? Don’t you have stuff coming up?”
He shifted and tucked his thumbs in the pockets of his worn jeans. “I have a couple weeks before heading up to Texas Motor Speedway for the three hundred. I’ll meet up with the team there. Two weeks too long for you, honey?”
Uncertainty shook her but she couldn’t let him see. It had taken years to come to grips with her past and now, here it was, roaring back into her life. J.T. brought with him a lot of junk she just wasn’t certain she wanted to face right now.
“No,” she whispered. “Two weeks is just fine but, um, it’s taken me awhile to feel comfortable in my own skin again, J.T.” It was hard but she forced herself to look him dead in the eye. “Mark’s my past and I don’t talk about him much.”
He gave her a look and moved closer. Cupping her cheek in one big hand, he bent and brushed his lips against hers. For a man who’d made a living out of being fast, he certainly put a lot of slow in his kisses. He kept it brief and smiled down at her. “My being here doesn’t have a goddamn thing to do with Mark. He’s dead and I’m sorry about that but let’s leave him where he is, Carrie.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

an interview with an editor!

Okay, folks. I have good news. My Samhain editor has graciously agreed to let me bug her with questions today. As if she doesn’t have enough to do already! LOL

Hi, Linda! Thanks so much for coming over to Three Wicked Writers. We really appreciate you chatting with us. Grab a drink and get settled, this could take awhile. ;-)

TWW: First, I think our readers would like to hear about you, the woman. Sometimes we think of editors as faceless beings with a really wicked red pen. LOL Please prove us wrong and tell us a little about who you are when you aren’t editing!
LINDA: I just started my first teaching job (after many years of college!) – I’m teaching 7th grade language arts and reading and loving it so far. This is definitely a mid-life career move for me. Not that I had much of a career before, lol. I did freelance graphic design, was a full-time student, mom to my two kids, and pet sitter, as well as an editor and writer. I’ve published a story with Red Sage and two novels with Five Star, one of which is coming out next fall. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to write anything new for quite a while, but someday…!

TWW: Okay, it’s time to get with the business stuff. How many years have you been an editor and have you worked for other publishers besides Samhain?
LINDA: I’ve been an editor for about five years. I worked for Wings e-Press and Triskelion before Samhain. I’ve been at Samhain for two and half years, and it is by far the best place to be. I love working with “my” authors as well as with the rest of the staff here. It’s an extremely well-managed, professional company with high standards and ambitious goals.

TWW: What do you look for in a story?
LINDA: I’m sure my answer would be the same as any other editor’s: A story has to grab me right from the beginning. The characters have to be interesting and the writing needs to be strong. This is where that elusive “writer’s voice” comes into play. A confident, original voice will really stand out in the pile.

TWW: I’m betting you’ve seen your fair share of mistakes in a manuscript. What would be the most common mistake you see?
LINDA: Sending in a manuscript full of typos and punctuation and grammar errors. That’s like showing up for a professional interview in ripped jeans and a stained T-shirt. It’s a terrible first impression, and it’s unlikely an editor will read beyond the first few pages if there are a lot of errors.

TWW: I know we all have our pet peeves. Things that drive us right up the wall. As an editor is there anything that makes you just really grind your teeth? For instance, a TSTL heroine, poor sexual practices (no condom), abusive heroes, etc...
LINDA: Unoriginal/clichéd writing, especially in sex scenes. We all know the standard phrases because we’ve all read them before (i.e., tongues tangling/dueling, hot/heat references, relying primarily on eyes, smiles and hands for visuals, etc.). I like to see authors push the boundaries of original language. Also, “purple prose” bugs me. Often, less is more. In a similar vein, don’t pepper your prose with exclamation points or florid dialogue tags. Those are the sure mark of the amateur who lacks confidence in her writing.

TWW: I don’t think the average person quite understands how difficult your job is. Care to tell us what a typical day for you entails?
LINDA: I check my email many times a day. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. I try to make myself very available to my authors. Every book goes through at least two rounds of thorough edits, often more, so that can get quite time-consuming; then there are final line edits to go over, covers to review, blurbs and excerpts to submit… It is a lot of work, but I love it. I’m very fortunate to have such a wonderful and talented group of authors.

TWW: What’s the best part of your job?
LINDA: Without a doubt, working with writers to develop their stories into the best books they can be. Also, sharing in their excitement when they get a great review, win a contest or zip up the MBaM best seller list.

TWW: What’s the worst? LOL C’mon, you can tell us! ;-)
LINDA: Having to reject a book from one of my established authors. It’s not easy, believe me. But, as friendly a relationship as I have with my group, this is a business, and the acquisition decisions I make are business-based, not personal. The other tough thing is falling in love with a book and seeing low sales. I think I get just as upset as the author.

TWW: In your opinion, which sub-genre or storyline do you think are especially hot right now? On the flip side, which seems to be dying out?
LINDA: The sexier, the better. Ménage à trois stories are smokin’ hot sellers. I think M/M sales will continue to grow. Sweet romance, either contemporary or historical, doesn’t seem to be finding a big audience with e-book fans, perhaps because there are enough of those in the conventional bookstore to satisfy readers. I personally love futuristic and sci-fi romances, as well as urban fantasy, and they seem to sell well.

TWW: Any advice for a new author attempting to break into this very tough business?
LINDA: Be mindful of what the publisher is selling and make sure you’re submitting something appropriate. Also, polish that manuscript! Typos and sloppy errors are deadly if they’re abundant. Push for originality in storyline and writing. Don’t be a copycat who relies on tried-and-true phrasing and a tired, clichéd plot. A beautiful, up-to-date web page helps a lot, too. If I get a good submission, I will Google the author before I make a decision either way. Self-promotion is a necessity, and a web page is your calling card for both readers and editors. E-publishing has definitely become quite competitive, and it’s not the easy market it once was. The good news is, there’s still more room for unconventional stories and new voices than there is in traditional publishing. It’s an exciting time to be involved, no matter which side of the equation you’re on.

TWW: Last question, I swear! LOL What do you say to people who think ebooks and epublishers are second rate to NY print publishers?
LINDA: I think you have only to look at some of the rising stars of NY publishing who got their start with e-books to know that’s not true. I look forward to the day when e-publishing isn’t looked at as a step toward traditional publishing, but as “the” place to be. Sales are definitely on the rise, very much so, and I believe that authors with unique voices and ideas are enjoying abundant success with e-publishing. Now that new venues are opening – Kindle, Mobipocket, etc., as well as opportunities to get print books into brick-and-mortar stores – I think the sky’s the limit.

Thanks so much, Linda! It’s been a real pleasure having you here!
NOTE: I'd like to update everyone who read my post 'I paid and got zero reply'. I recently did get a reply back from that review site. An appology for their lack of response as well as an explanation as to why my cover ad wasn't up yet. I wanted to take a moment to say how much I appreciate their very kind email to me!! Problem solved! *g*