Saturday, July 30, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Lillian Grant

I love serials, but not for breakfast.

The plot for the first book I ever wrote came to me in a flash of brilliance. Actually, it came to me when my husband forgot my birthday. I wondered if a man could do anything worse on his wife’s birthday. The anti-hero of my novel proved you could, but my heroine made him pay. Needless to say, my beloved never forgot again. In fact his imagination for gift buying seems limitless. Once the book was finished I was sure that was it. My writing career was over. I would never have another plot idea as long as I lived.

Fortunately, I was over reacting, just a little, and inspiration struck again.

However, coming up with a plot for one whole book is difficult, I could only marvel at those who could write a whole series. How did the Janet Evanovich’s of this world get to seventeen books in a series?

Imagine my surprise when I finished the first book in my Reel to Real series, which was at that point a stand-alone novel, and one of the characters decided he wanted his own story. Picking up the lives of my characters was thrilling, like meeting old friends, but now I had a new problem. I had my characters, plot, setting but I also had a potential reading audience who knew nothing about what happened before.

I am the first to admit I hate reading the regurgitation of previous books in a series before the author leaps into the new story. I impatiently flick through pages that quite frankly bore me senseless. I know who everyone is from the last ten books. I also know what happened. Who is in love with who and why. So, after typing Chapter One on my sequel, Keep it Under Wraps I started to worry. How much did the reader need to know about Speak to Me of Abduction to be able to follow the plot if they came in at book two? How much back-story could a returning reader stand before they wanted to scream at their Kindle?

I hope that I achieved the right mix, but I guess my readers will be the final judge.

So tell me, when you read a series do you prefer a prologue that gives new readers all they need to know so you can skip it, or do you like to have reminders weaved into the new plot?

Speak to Me of Abduction

Buy it here:

Stranded in Rio and desperate for cash, Australian backpacker Charlene Paige accepts a minor movie role. When her costar, Hollywood hunk and serial womanizer Jonathon Deveraux, is abducted from the set, she turns to his older brother for help.

Jacob Deveraux is an Oscar winner and Hollywood good guy, but his past has made him a recluse. However, when his brother goes missing, he agrees to help the hapless Aussie who was deceived into taking a movie role so Jonathon could woo her into his bed. Despite being determined to keep his distance, Jacob is increasingly drawn to her.

When it becomes obvious Jonathon’s kidnapping is designed to punish him, Jacob worries his feelings for Charlene make her a target. Despite his efforts to keep her safe, she is grabbed off the street. Can he rescue Jonathon and Charlene, or will he lose not only his brother but another woman he loves?

Keep it Under Wraps

Buy it here:

Reformed Hollywood bad boy Jonathon Deveraux doesn’t remember starring in the DVD in his mailbox, and he’s not sure he trusts the female PI to find out where the movie came from.

Georgina Stanvers needs the work, but she doesn't like Jonathon. He’s a smooth talker, like the moviemakers who ruined her father. She only suggests reenacting the bondage scene to jar the actor's memory. But untamed passion rewrites the script, and inhibitions are stripped away along with their clothing.

When bullets fly, it appears an impending sex scandal is the least of Jonathon’s troubles. Needing to discover the truth, "George" puts her heart on the line and her life in the hands of killers bent on revenge. If Jonathon is to prove his attraction to the PI is more than lust, he'll have to save her. But first he needs to trust George, and his heart.

Feel free to use what you can and thank you so much for the opportunity to guest on your wonderful blog.

Best wishes


Friday, July 29, 2011

Taking Chances

This may sound like a rehash of my post a few weeks ago about how far is too far, but hopefully it won't be. Something occurred today that brought it to the fore for me again and I guess I'm still not done churning this topic. So bear with me. Maybe by next week I'll be ready to tackle my next topic, which I think may be the very vital differences between erotica and erotic romance and why it peeves me when people use the terms interchangeably. (And yep, I'm easily peeved at the moment!) Or it might be about coffee, my most faithful lover in a cup. Not that I have any other lovers in a cup...

Anyhoo. There's an author I greatly admire. She writes both erotic romance and regular romance under a different pseudonym. She didn't inspire the forthcoming post, but reactions to her work did.

So far, she has been almost unilaterally praised—at least that I've seen—for her unusual characters and unique scenarios. That praise is well-deserved, IMO. She's not afraid to go places others won't touch. But with her latest book, what I've suspected would happen finally has. The very thing she's been praised for is now a source of complaint. Not too shocking, as all writers realize that not everyone will like their work. It's a lesson hard-won early on. But I think it's...disturbing, maybe, to see the same level of offputtedness (yes, I made up a word) where once there was fervent passion. Maybe reading is kind of like a love affair. When it's good, it's SO good. When it goes bad, watch out!

From what I've seen of this author as a person, this won't change her. I think she'll still write the same way she always has. But I think it's so interesting that the very thing people love often becomes the same thing those people grow to dislike.

For one thing, her characters are usually edgy and real. Sometimes too edgy and real, for those who like their heroes and heroines a little less hard to understand. She takes chances. She “goes there.” Like mine, a lot of her characters proudly wear the quirky badge, usually because they're a mishmash of characteristics that don't go together in typical ways.

By contrast, Nora Roberts, another of my favorite writers, is too often accused lately of all her books “sounding the same.” To me, the experience one expects from reading a NR book is exactly WHY a reader goes back to her. Knowing the road Nora will take me down, even if the turns aren't as tricky as some other authors' choices, is one of the reasons I return to read her again and again. Yet I also like to be challenged, to never be sure what hat the author above will be wearing when I embark on reading one of her stories.

Do you like authors to challenge you by not being sure what angle they'll come at you next—or if they'll even pick an angle you'll enjoy? Or are your favorites your favorites precisely because you think you know what to expect?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So you wanna talk about secrets??

Last week I talked about secrets, well, not quiet secrets, but close to it. Lots of comments of not spilling the beans on...everything. So this week I'm telling it all, the good, the bad, the ugly & what's ticked me off. You asked for it so here it is!

First of here's my biggest secret. I don't write humor. Really I'm not a humorous writer and I never set out to be one. Then again when I started this crazy journey I thought I'd tell tales of romantic suspense that would keep you up at night with a gun in one hand and my book in the other. Yeah, that's not happened. Who knew my viewpoint of the world would be considered funny? Either that or people have a really weird sense of reality.

Next, I'm not mysterious. There's no veil of wonder surrounding me like there are with some writers. I thought about getting my mystic going, but sheesh do you realize how much time and more important attention it takes to be all vague and coy. Nope, not for me. If you see me at a conference I won't be hidden in meetings with my editors or in the VIP section rubbing elbows with NYT best sellers. Nope, I'm in the bar, harassing Desiree Holt, chatting with Sam Cayto and sucking up to the bartender and waitstaff. If you see me pull up a chair unless I'm sitting alone and way too close to a hot cover model. In that case interrupt at your own risk!

Third thing you didn't know about moi. I will NEVER read my own work once it's published. I can't, literally, I can't. Makes me freak out, but not in a fun Allie had too many drinks sort of way. I mentally tear apart my work and wonder what the heck I was thinking. Yikes, I'm a freak and I own it!

Also, you will never see a hero of mine with a mustache or any facial hair for that matter. It just creeps me out and no I have no idea why. My father has a facial hair and I like him. Hmmmm, maybe that's it. Oh yuck now I've freaked myself out by thinking too deeply.

Oh here's a good one: I don't write menage because it confuses me. Not the idea of it, but the specific details like who's on first and what's on second. It gets all confusing and I have enough trouble with two people in bed/shower/wall. Though if two hot hunks (were, fae, demi-god) wanted to kidnap me and seduce into the three way love I'd only object for a half a second :

This isn't a secret, but some people seriously want to know this mess. Ughhh, no I do NOT physically research my sex scenes. There's the little matter of finding such mythical creatures as half demi-gods, vampires, desert demons, werewolves and well you get the idea. Also do you think if I did get my hands on any of the above you'd see me here? Nope I'd be too busy with my demon/date to blog. Sorry, guys & gals, but hot studly muffin beats girl chit chat any day :)

Another weird secret...I love stale cheese puffs. Yeah the kind most of you would throw away if the bag is left open. No I don't understand it either. A friend of mine says "It's an Allie thing, no one sane would understand." I'm choosing to take it as a compliment.

Yep, the last one had nothing to do with writing, but thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

Now, I wanna here some dirty naughty details. What turns you on, turns you off and what makes you jump your honey, like me at a tiara sale? Is it the idea of being tied up at the mercy of your lover? Or just the opposite having your lover bound, open and vulnerable to all your desires? Does the thought of your lover spending hours slowing exploring every inch of your flesh with gentle hands, mouth and tongue get your pulse pounding? Or is it a rough pounding that sets your pulse thumping? Having a mate lose control in his desperation to take you, ripping of your clothes with rough urgent hands while his teeth sink into your tender skin?

What books draw you? What authors make you squirm late at night as you rub ice against your heated chest? Or does the picture of your lover times two take you over the edge? Being the cream center in the middle of a hot male oreo drive you to distraction? Or maybe it's the thought of being taken every way possible by three male lovers (or more) intent only on your pleasure, over and over again.
A little voyeurism making your palms damp? Or maybe knowing someone out there, unknown and unseen is watching you touch yourself push you over the edge? Or something a little more taboo turn your knees to mush? A strong alpha male taking another male in a elemental expression of devotion while you watch? The sexy woman next door has you breathe catching each time you watch her bend over to garden?
Toys and a little flogging make your heart go pity-pat? The smell of leather has you running to change your undies?
In the very hot and sensual world of erotica what makes you loyal to one author? Because we all know without the sex there's very little connection between you and the characters. Sex is an emotional bridge which helps us connect to the very core of the hero and heroines sensual truth. No bouncy bed (or wall, rug, stove, motorcycle...) no connection. No reason to read another book.

Now, spill it ladies. What gets you hot, what gets you nervous, but most of all what get you coming back for more?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to School

When my kids were little, I remember being so excited for the end of a school year. Just knowing that everyone could just chill out for awhile, sleep late, PLAY and have fun was much anticipated but by mid July thoughts turned to 'back to school'. We were always in a mad scramble to squeeze in that final vacation before hitting the stores to stock up on what was needed to get back into the groove of school again. Funny how I always began to get really antsy about all of that. I was torn. Part of me was sad about the whole thing yet a BIGGER part was secretly jumping up and down because I was ready for a bit of regimentation. I needed direction and with the kids home all day that just wasn't possible.

I always figured when my kids headed off to college all of that would change but that hasn't necessarily been the case. We STILL do vacations, sleep late, loll around, etc and schedules are  blown to smithereens. This summer hasn't been much different from others. I DID manage to write a couple of books this summer (amazing achievement all things considered) and that's not bad but my writing productivity feels shot to hell. Now we are back from our wonderful Florida vacation and packing up my daughter to head back to school. She leaves a little early because we're moving her into a new apartment and you know how that is...a gazillion details. I've never thought of myself as a highly organized person but guess what? I AM. Being out of a routine seriously messes with my head. I've spent the past several weeks agonizing about not getting my stuff done. Everything else is getting in the way. Sometimes, I think, life is just like that and we have to just relax, go with the flow, and not be quite so hard on ourselves. Once this move is done and I'm back in my little world the words will flow and my routine will be established again. I'm ready for it.

Anyway, I've been wondering if it's just me who feels the world is a little nuts right now!

In other news: Return of the Daredevil has a release date. This is the sequel to Return to Delight (Ellora's Cave, March) and tells the story of Cooper Dobb's brother, T, and Melanie Honeycutt. This book releases from Ellora's Cave on August 10.

Scrumptious scoundrel. Daredevil T Dobbs, the sexiest cowboy to ever walk the streets of Delight, Texas, headed out of town taking Melanie Honeycutt’s heart with him. But now he’s back and hotter than ever. Trust him? Her head says no but her body has other ideas.

Stubborn woman. She was the girl T never forgot and the woman he yearns for in the deepest part of his heart. But what’s a man to do when she doesn’t believe he’s home for good? T knows his way around dangerous curves and Mel’s are hot enough to burn a man. He figures it’ll take a slow hand and some downright smokin’ hot sex to melt her reserve but he’s definitely up for the challenge.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Perspective: Editor vs. Author

It’s all in the way you look at it.

I’m an author and an editor. So when I turn in a manuscript it’s perfect, right? Wrong. No way. Far from it. I think it’s that whole left-brain-right-brain thing. Supposedly it’s the left side of the brain that is analytical and logical and the right side that is intuitive and creative.

Theoretically, people are usually left or right brain dominant. My brain is split. Well, of course it is. I’ve never claimed to be normal. LOL The truth is, I suspect most people are split. Sometimes we’re logical thinkers and sometimes we’re dreamers. It’s just that simple.

So what the hell am I talking about? It’s like this. When I am in writer mode, I think like a writer. I’m creative. I envision scenes in my head and put them on paper. When I’m in editor mode, I am far removed from the story. I can’t envision the scene unless I read the words. Therefore, if the author hasn’t done the job well enough, I can’t see the action.

As a writer we know everything our characters are thinking and feeling. However, we don’t always get that down on paper. Sometimes we’ll write something and just KNOW that it’s as plain as the nose on a body’s face what we intended. Then an editor reads it and you’ll see CLARIFY marked next to those words. HUH?

When it comes to punctuation, one of the things writers are guilty of is misuse of commas, ellipses, and em dashes. Why?  Because inside our writer heads, we input pauses and interruptions and such exactly where we think they should be. We hear all of those little hesitations our characters make. We see their actions hesitate. So we automatically write it the way we see it, which, of course, is contrary to rules of punctuation! LOL

My first two editors told me I was a very clean writer. I strutted around like a proud peacock each time I heard that. But I was dumb. Yep, I was. That was years ago. Long before I realized I needed to study the craft of writing. As we all know, writing isn’t just about where to put the commas. It’s also about a whole lot of other things like POV, characterization, mood, tell vs. show, etc. etc. etc. The mechanics of it all.

You see, I submitted a manuscript to a different publishing house and was accepted. WOW! Wonderful. I was on my way. Right? Wrong. LOL The thing is, I thought I was a clean writer. But at this new publishing house, I was lucky enough to find an editor who knew her business. Yep, it was my first REAL edit. I’m afraid not all publishers and editors are created equal. Unfortunately, we usually learn that the hard way, too. I did.

So my first REAL edit got me on track. I studied like there was NO tomorrow, which is how I ended up as an editor.  

I know for a fact that there are authors I’ve edited for who envision staking me down in the desert and pouring syrup all over my body so an army of fire ants will come along and devour me. How do I know this? Because I’ve envisioned doing the same thing to my editors! Except I’m even more evil. I soak leather straps in water and then tie the editor to the stakes, including tying one around the neck. That way as the leather straps dry in the hot sun, they slowly squeeze. So the editor is both choking and being eaten alive by fire ants at the same time! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!

Every editor does it differently. Editing is subjective for the most part. As far as punctuation is concerned I tend to be in favor of how the author sees/hears it in their head. But as an editor, I have to at least try to follow the rules. My main concern, however, is with content. Readers aren’t stupid. They really don’t care too much about commas and ellipses. They care more about the story. So if they see a typo or some punctuation out of place, they generally overlook it unless it’s far too much to overlook—and that’s where careful study of the craft comes into play. While no two editors will see it exactly the same way, there should be enough consistency throughout a manuscript to nix all complaints.

So the next time you receive a round of edits and you open them up and GASP, take a step back. Remember that you’re looking at the manuscript through different eyes. It’s all a matter of perspective. After I’ve gone through an edit with an author, I generally hear back from them. What do they say? Basically, they tell me their book is much much better. I am often told that at first they didn’t trust what I was suggesting, but the deeper they got into the edit, the more they learned and simply GOT IT! Basically, authors hate me at first and we end up as friends by the end of the edit.

It’s an editor’s job to point out every tiny, itsy bitsy thing they see in your manuscript that could throw a reader out of the story. I don’t care how unimportant and minuscule it seems. If your editor isn’t doing that, then your editor isn’t doing their job.

Some writers turn in cleaner manuscripts than others. All that means is that one writer is farther along in the writing craft than the other. Doesn’t mean their storyline is better than the other author’s. Just means they did a better job of telling it. Which is what YOU the author want to do. Study the craft. Become one of those “clean” writers.

I was thinking this morning about the two cleanest writers I’ve ever edited for. And I’m going to give them a shout out. Hey, everyone needs a little pat on the back from time to time, don’t they? Those two writers are Emmy Ellis, writing as Natalie Dae, Sarah Masters, and under several other pseudonyms I can’t always remember, LOL, AND Destiny Blaine, who writes as Destiny Blaine, Natalie Acres, and a couple of more pseudonyms I can’t remember, LOL!!!

Both Emmy and Destiny are thorough writers with an excellent grasp of different writing techniques. They understand the mechanics. And I’m sure both of them would say that in no way does that mean they don’t need an editor. Both of them are smart enough to say just the opposite. That’s all a part of understanding the writing craft in general.

So hats off to Emmy Ellis (who is also the head of the art department at Total E-Bound) and to Destiny Blaine. You can find these ladies at their websites.

On another note, my newest release, Strip Down, from Ellora's Cave is now available at Amazon! Check it out! I'm getting the most amazing reader feedback. Emails have been pouring in. And the verdict is that Strip Down is one damn fine story! I suppose I should be humble. But somehow I just can't be. LOL

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Welcome our guest Berengaria Brown

When readers ask for a sequel
Berengaria Brown

For an author (or aspiring author) selling the first book is the ultimate high. All those hours of research, writing, editing, proofing, agonizing over the plot and characters, is suddenly validated when a publisher accepts your book. All those nights when your friends were out partying, and you were sitting in front of a keyboard, typing madly, have suddenly paid off. You are an author!
Then selling the second book is another adrenaline rush. It was not a fluke! You can (and did!) do it again.
But what about when readers email you, asking for a sequel?
First there’s the, “OMG they liked my book that much!!!” scream of excitement.
Quickly followed by “OMG I didn’t plan the book with a sequel in mind!” scream of horror.
Then I sat down and reread the book carefully. And no, a secondary character didn’t jump out from it begging for his story to be told. But then I got thinking. What if...
What would make a werewolf world need MM relationships? How would this be worked out? How could it happen in this world? Why would it happen?
Before long the situation was consuming me even though I had other deadlines, and a day job I ought to have been paying attention to. Until finally, one day, Dai knocked on my brain demanding his story be told. Thank God!
For all those readers out there who enjoy a yummy werewolf, here’s a bit about “Were the Hell?”
“Were the Hell?” Blurb:
Septimus, is sent to a pack across the country to see if they have a solution to why almost no females have been born into his pack in over 30 years.
As soon as he walks into the meeting room he smells his mate. The lust between them is instant and fierce. By day they try to solve the problem of the gender imbalance, by night they fuck each other's brains out.
Septimus finally gets a lead as to why there may be no females born in his pack. An old man, Arthur, remembers a wizard threatening to curse his pack. Septimus and Arthur speak to a very old woman, Richenda who gives them some trails to follow.
Septimus’ duty is to help his pack. But he’d much rather be in bed with Dai. And is the situation even solvable anyway?

Excerpt PG 13
Septimus had sometimes wondered if he'd only ever been sexually attracted to other males because there were so few younger females in his pack, and the few there were didn't light his fire. But the minute he walked into the meeting room with the weres from the Forest Hill pack, he knew he was genuinely, one hundred percent gay. He could smell his mate.
His cock stood up and fought to get out of his jeans, stretching the fabric so tight that he was going to have blue balls for a week. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck were also standing straight up. His skin tingled, electrified with sexual arousal. And the scent of his mate was overpowering him, dragging him into the room with almost physical force.
His nose led him unerringly to his mate: a tall, lean man of about thirty, with tanned brown skin, dark brown hair, and liquid chocolate eyes. Those eyes were staring at him, the man's strong nose was flared smelling his scent and from the huge bulge in his pale cargo pants, the man was every bit as aware of him as he was of Mr. Tall, Tan, and Delectable.
As Septimus walked across the room, his cock leading the way, the man moved to meet him. Their gazes were locked, and Septimus was totally oblivious to everyone else in the room and the task he'd been sent to do. He was about to put out his hand when the other man reached him and grabbed his shoulders, pulling him in for a hard, body-blending hug.
"I'm Dai. We're mates." The words were harsh, bitten off, said almost as a challenge.
"Septimus. I know."
The Alpha of the Forest Hill pack stood just a few feet away. He coughed, cleared his throat, then said, "Gentlemen, let's get this meeting underway. Dai, you should sit next to Septimus, not in your usual place."
So even the Alpha smelled their attraction. That certainly proved he was not being misled by his cock. Damn! His dick had never been this big before. If only he could undo his jeans and give it some room before it broke his zipper.

Buy Link:

Berengaria Brown

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vacay...from the computer

Sorry I'm late posting today...I blame extreme melting!

In my part of NY, it hit 100 degrees yesterday. I know that's normal for some of you in the summer, but I live in a place that gets around 150 inches of snow each winter. We hadn't been this hot since 1936. I have no A/C at home. Needless to say, I can't spend too much time on the computer so I'm using this time to try to relax a bit and get caught up on some reading. And yep, I'll be camped in front of my fan for the duration of the weekend!

What about you? Do you have any exciting weekend plans or are you planning on vegging in front of a cool breeze like me?

And HAPPY RELEASE DAY, MIA! *pom pom swish*

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Procrastination Goddess

So, I'm AWESOME at putting things off until the last minute, then stressing like a mad woman until I come screeching in under the wire. Hence, I don't do a lot of preposting for blogs. I should. I think I'll consider preposting right up until next Thursday. I should have a decision by then.

This week, like last week, it bit me in the ass. I'm beginning to hate Thursdays for all the very sudden, very serious medical drama that goes down. Don't worry, I'm fine. However, I spent the day at the cardiologist because they don't know why my blood pressure is through the roof.

Procrastination fueled stress, perhaps? Can I get a prescription to do my job and write blog posts? THAT would be awesome. Then I could kill to stones with one bird.

Last week, I said I'd post a normal post this week. Last week, I had no idea that my body was going to stab itself in the back. Instead, I'm going to brag about my new release coming out tomorrow. This is a full on Katie Blu, male/female book. I'm so freakin' excited!

Lucy Covington has had a crush on her hunky best friend for years. In an effort to tip the scales in her favor, she entices him to challenge her to a bet. She says he relies on his charm and can’t seduce a woman properly. Charlie Blackwell says otherwise. To prove it, he’ll make her beg him to fuck her.

Charlie has spent the last year confused about the way Lucy makes him feel. When the challenge is issued, all bets are off, and Lucy has a few surprises of her own in store. When the last moan echoes, their relationship will never be the same again. 

“Ha! You couldn’t seduce a woman if you had a color diagram,” Lucy Covington scoffed, pushing her glasses up her nose with a well-aimed poke. “I’ve seen you with every date since the eighth grade dance. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.”
“Oh really?” Charlie Blackwell answered.
He cocked his brow in a way that made women everywhere fall over themselves to get him in bed. But it didn’t count. Not really. At least Lucy didn’t think it counted if Charlie the charmer just had to look at them, the way he was looking at her actually, and they caved.
“Yes, really. You think a look and a killer smile will gloss over anything. When it comes to actual game play, you suck.”
“I do suck. I suck very well,” he murmured moving closer, caging her in.
Well, shit.
Charlie was gorgeous. Lucy wasn’t. Where he was the sexy, confident, athletic male who  could grace the cover of a magazine, Lucy resembled a librarian’s little sister. She’d grandfathered in as his friend because she’d known him since forever, since before the biases of youth and early adulthood. They’d made it out the other side still friends.
She knew a lot about him. Not the least of which, Charlie making an effort to attract someone was dangerous. She’d gone down this line of discussion for a reason and that reason was closing in on her, slowly, deliberately and with the air of a satisfied cat about to lap up a bowl full of rich cream. Her pussy melted.
Maybe this was a bad idea.
She’d been in love with her best friend since—God, since puberty. Deciding to do something about it, challenge him, had been a stroke of genius. Which she now decided was the total opposite of genius. Because he’d win. And Charlie wasn’t a graciousgood  winner. He’d never let her live it down.
Lucy backed away the closer he got. She figured it was ruining her point—the one about him not knowing how to seduce a woman—but the predatory stalking unnerved her. He pursued, his smile growing by the second. When he’d backed her against the kitchen wall and planted his hand beside her head, she knew she looked ridiculous.
“So explain it to me, Luce.”
She licked her lips and lifted her chin defiantly. “You depend too much on your charm.”
“Charm and seduction go hand in hand.”
“I mean, you charm a woman and once she says yes, you lose interest. You think the seduction is over, but it isn’t.”
“And you, with your myriad dates, are going to correct me?”
She sighed with exasperation. Of course she didn’t have the same dating experience as he did. Look at her. She was uptight and fully buttoned, he was laid back summer afternoons and sun-warmed skin. “You think you’ll win this argument.”
Charlie leaned in, hooked his finger on the bridge of her glasses and drew them down. “Won’t I?”
She swatted his hand. “No. Because, Charlie Blackwell, I don’t fall for your shit. You know it and I know it.”
“I sense a challenge coming on.”
She had hoped he would, back when challenging him had seemed like a good idea. If he knew she deliberately led him this direction, he’d have lost interest and moved on with a friendly chuckle. But when he thought it was his idea, the whole game changed.
Lucy narrowed her eyes, playing her part to naive perfection. She hoped. “Challenge?”
“Yeah. If you can handle it.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “Try me.”
His gaze dropped to her lips. “Oh, I will, Lucy Covington, you can count on it.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I wanna know your dirty little secrets...

People hear romance novel and automatically think easy sex, dumb blond with big boobs and small brain, right? (Picture me repeatedly slamming head into desk) I know I know ignorance is contagious, but I didn't realize stupidity was as well.

Awwww, I feel better now. Ranted and got that nasty monkey off my back. Now let's get to this week's topic. Are you a dirty girl? Do you dream about being kidnapped by hot alien men? Or are you more into eternal love with a man on a permanent liquid diet?

Think about what you like, your favorite authors then stop. With the answers pinging back and forth in the vast emptiness of your mind fill in a few questions for, you won't be graded. Jeez, you think I've got the time or attention span to grade you people...oh please. I'm running an imaginary world with death threats, mutiny and sex harassment and everything.

I read my favorite author because___________

Her/His heros make me feel______________

His/Her heroines are__________________

The one thing I enjoy the most _____________________

This author always makes me_____________________

Okay, now suppose JUST suppose your favorite authors were imprisoned in my dungeon (Hey, it's my world I'll do what I want). No new books by these fab people coming out for the next six months or so. What do you do? Why you check out new authors of course. No, you do not come to my castle and try to break into the dungeon. I have sexy hot Scottish guards protecting my interest. They will do bad and possibly enjoyable things to you. Umm, I mean they will...oh heck never mind. I'll have all of you storming my castle now, attacking my poor half naked royal guards.

New authors how do you pick them, why do you pick them & where do you go to pick them from? Ha, that sounds kind of kinky when you think about it. Hmmm, so formulate your answers then add them to the list I made above. No, Elece, I still won't be grading these. Though each time you ask me it will cost you a drink at the bar!!

I go to ________________ to find new authors.

I always look in ___________ for new books or authors to read.

If an author can make me _____________ I'll buy her .

I liked book A from this author which means I'll__________ her backlist.

When I find a new writer I really enjoy I _________________.

Now, be good peoples & share with the rest of the class your thoughts, observations and whatnot. We're all dying to know. Plus I'm nosy to begin with.

Have a great week people!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Regina on VACATION!

Hi everyone! Writing today from sunny Florida where I'm vacationing at my sister's house. Yesterday was a loooong travel day and I swear I fell into bed and passed out last night. There's nothing quite like getting up at the butt-crack of dawn then being stuck in airports and planes for a day. We arrived safely, did lots of catching up and had a fabulous dinner. Today I see SHOPPING on the horizon. Feeling a tad discombobulated at the moment but a couple gallons of coffee will get me going, I suspect!

Anyway, I don't have a super special post for today because I suspect my BRAIN is on vacay too! Will see ya'll next week.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where Does She Go Now?

I seriously doubt there is anyone who doesn’t know the name Casey Anthony. Many of you may have even followed her trial closely. Personally, I read daily news reports but didn’t actually watch the trial. My sis did.

The day the verdict came in my sis and I were both shocked. She was very upset because she'd felt certain the jury was going to return a guilty verdict. On the other hand, I was stunned because I couldn’t believe that the jury had set aside emotion and had actually considered the case presented by the prosecution and had found her not guilty. In my opinion, the prosecution had not proved its case and it’s just that simple for me. But I was expecting a guilty verdict just the same.

Now that doesn’t mean I believe that Casey Anthony wasn’t responsible for her daughter’s death. I do. But the prosecution failed to give any evidence that actually showed that. Where was the smoking gun? When did this little girl die? What exactly killed her? The facts were all over the place and none of them actually showed Casey Anthony in the act in any way.

While this trial was going on there was a trial in our state that also held my interest. Jason Young was accused of bludgeoning his pregnant wife to death. This was another situation in which I could not see the facts that proved the prosecution’s case and his trial ended with a hung jury.

In both of these trials, Anthony’s and Young’s, the prosecution AND media were able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendants were lousy human beings. Anthony never bothered to report her child was missing (and we know that’s because she KNEW what had happened, of course) and Anthony partied like hell through it all, lying to the police. Jason Young had affairs and argued with his wife constantly. He even had an affair with one of her best friends—some friend, huh?

So both of these people were convicted of being lousy human beings but not murderers. I heard it said dozens of times in reference to Young that just because you were a bad husband it didn’t make you a murderer. Well, that’s true with Anthony as well. She was a horrible mother. But even if I didn’t believe she killed her daughter, I could never get past the fact that NO mother goes partying when their child is missing.

I suppose we’ve all tried to figure out what happened to little Caylee. I know I have. And what I think is this:  I read several times over the course of months that the grandmother was pretty much at odds with Casey over the way she was raising/treating Caylee. That the grandmother wanted her daughter to be more responsible. I can see that. Rings truthful to me. It’s my understanding that at one point, the grandmother stopped babysitting so much, trying to get Casey to settle down and be responsible for her child. Makes sense. But I don’t think Casey Anthony was ready for that responsibility no matter how much it was thrust upon her. I think she continued to party but could not find or afford babysitters so she took her daughter with her. And what did she do? Chloroformed her and duct taped her mouth shut, probably put her in the trunk so no one passing by her car could see the sleeping child and report her.

I know of two situations personally in which grandmothers have said they would no longer babysit their grandkids while the parents went out and partied and spent money they needed to raise their children. In both cases, the children were taken along to the parties. Yep, even into bars. And yeah, a bar should have stopped that, but these bars aren’t exactly the kind that really cares what happens. Fortunately the children lived through these situations but it did affect them. Two children were molested and  finally taken from the mother. The other children were also eventually taken from the mother as the mother “forgot” the children one night and they were found sleeping in a storage room the next day and crying because they were so scared.

What I’m trying to say is that at the very least, alcohol and drugs and young parents do not mix. Hell, I know forty-year-old parents who have no business being parents. Let’s face it. There are bad parents in this world. Parents without a conscience. Parents who are clueless as to how to raise a child. Parents who cannot clean up their acts and do right by their children.  Children are simply neglected. And not always in a way that you’d notice. They might look perfectly fine on the outside—clean clothes, nice shoes, etc—but neglected just the same.

When I look at Casey Anthony, I see a young woman who is disconnected from reality. Her daughter is dead and she knows what happened to her. Her parents and brother may as well be dead to her after the accusations she made in court with reference to molestation. She is the most hated woman in America. Yet she smiled upon hearing the verdict. Was it an evil smile? One that said, “yeah, I got away with murder”?  I don’t think so. It was the kind of smile that said “the jury believed me and I can have a life now”.  Disconnected. No thought given to her little girl.

But the jury didn’t believe her, did they? They just couldn’t get past doing their job. The reasonable doubt was there for them and they had to go with it. As much as I would like to have seen a guilty verdict, I’m also amazed at the way the jury handled things. They did their job.

So now she’s out of jail and in hiding. Everyone thinks she is going to make big bucks from all of this. Lawsuits are popping up like crazy. Jerry Springer offered her a million bucks to appear on his show. And everyone thinks she needs protection. That someone is going to see to it justice is done.

Is she really free? Is it possible that given time this is all going to go away and she’ll end up with her own reality TV show? Is it up to someone other than God to decide her fate now? I’m just wondering what everyone thinks about this. Was the jury right? Should the jury have been given an alternative charge with which to convict—something lesser and easier to prove? Where did the prosecution fail? Or did the prosecution fail? 

Where does Casey Anthony go now? 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Welcome our Guest, Elizabeth Black

I Can Write Better Than You! No, You Can't

By Elizabeth Black

Jean Joachim has a great post up at her blog called Ten Things To Not Say To A Romance Writer. I've heard them all before, including #1 (Did you model that character after me?), #6 (Does your mother know you write this stuff?), and especially #9 (I could write something like this … it isn't hard.).

I want to talk about #9 because I recently had a rather amusing experience with it.

Every writer out there has heard from countless people that they too are going to write a great novel. The problem is they've talked about it for years but they've never actually written anything. Sometimes when someone finds out I write horror, dark fiction, erotica, and erotic romance, they say, "Oh, I want to write a novel, too." As if magically words just fly out of my ass and anyone can do it. Well, words do fly out of my ass because I'm damned good and I'm prolific, but no… not "anyone" can do it..

That said, recently I've encountered a numbnuts who actually rewrote my own work in progress. Without my permission. Without being asked. Without even knowing me! Get a load of this. This guy saw my opening sentence of my WIP entitled "The Oily" I posted on my Facebook page and he just had to send me a private message. He is not one of my Facebook friends. He couldn't post his "correction" on my wall because I don't permit non-friends to post so he just had to pontificate to me in private.

For comparison purposes, here is my original sentence. Pretty straightforward, moody, and simple.

"Winwood House stood on the high hill butting up to Strangeman's Swamp, a five mile pit reeking of desolation on the island of Caleb's Woe where animals and sometimes children disappeared never to be seen again.

Here's what he sent me in private mail:

Out of amusement I reworked your first sentence, as it didn't really work for me, but couldn't post it to the thread -- so for what it's worth: Beetling over the rocky precipice that overshadowed the noisome, mist-shrouded pit that was Strangeman's bog, Winwood House's sinking porches provided a wide-ranging vista over the festering muck which -- were the tales of Caleb's Woe islanders to be believed -- had lured many a head of cattle, and children unnumbered to a mysterious and appalling fate.

WTF? Can you say "purple prose"? First off, he had the gall to "correct" me, probably thinking that any moron can write fiction. This isn't even erotic romance. It's horror fiction. It's bad enough some people think writing fiction is a breeze, but some think any moron can write erotic romance. It's like the old joke, "Those who can't act, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym."

It's not like he's a New York Times bestselling author. If he were a reputable, best-selling, talented writer I might listen to him but no respectable writer uses words like "beetling".

So I wrote back, not sure if he was serious because his "correction" was so God-awful I couldn't believe he thought it was good. Turns out he was very serious. Here's his response, verbatim including misspellings and bad grammar:

No, I was absolutely serious, now let me tell you about a great real estate investment oppurtunity, Caleb's Island...

If I had really wanted to go for purple prose I would have used o'er rather than over, and thrown in a few 'nigh unto'

I'd had enough so I went in for the kill:

"It's Caleb's Woe, not Caleb's Island. Feel free to change the name of any location you wish as long as it's of your own creation, not someone else's. How very kind of you to "correct" another author's writing unasked for. And you are a stranger to me. You're not even a Facebook friend. So polite of you.

You also used words that haven't been in common usage since Elizabeth I was Queen. Beetling? Noisome? Seriously? Even H. P. Lovecraft avoided words like beetling and noisome, and he was prone to using "eldritch".

You really should submit something for the Bulwer-Lytton awards but those submissions are supposed to be a joke, not serious like what you wrote.

By the way, don't quit your day job.

So, no, not "anyone" can write fiction and write it well. It's hard work and exhausting. This guy's reworking of my first sentence is worthy of the Bulwer-Lytton Awards but you're supposed to write jokingly bad entries for that contest – not stuff you seriously think is good. I never heard from Numbnuts after my final message to him. Maybe he's rewriting "Pride and Prejudice" but making it better than that hack Jane Austen ever did. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reader expectations…and the obstinate writer

Full disclosure: this post is cross-posted at Romancing The Muses and Three Wicked Writers Plus Two for two reasons…1) I'm really curious about responses to this topic and want to get the most opinions possible…and 2) my bloggy brain has gone radio silent and honestly couldn't squeeze out two topics this week! I'll be back to my usual form next week, I hope.

Now to my post…

Me obstinate? Noooo way. Never. I mean, I'm not so stubborn that I'll do something that would increase my chances of failure just to say I did. That would be silly.

That would be me.

I like writing about characters with issues. Not too surprising, really, because I think most of us do. Where's the fun in crafting perfect characters? (Though I used to do just that in high school, when I'd had enough of my own imperfections, thank you very much, so at least my heroine could have a three inch waist and a gorgeous, flawless man who hung on her every word.) But along with creating imperfect characters, sometimes your characters aren't just quirky-cute-off. Sometimes they're wholesale screwed up…or make very screwed up decisions. Which is all well and good, if by the time they get on the page they're mostly sorted out…or you're writing a genre that's not romance. Meaning, if the hero/heroine sleeps with someone who's not their BIG LOVE people won't want to kill you.

I've been told my heroes sometimes don't seem heroic right away. I tend to like hard-edged guys, and while they definitely grow and change and soften a bit, the first time they show up they're likely to be…well, harder to love. I've tried to smooth down some of their edges. I really have. But I butt up against that age old adage that if your hero isn't heroic, no one will want to spend time with him to wait for him to grow and change. But…waaah! I like my guys rougher. I like their conflicts to be closer to life. Guys sometimes screw up (as do women, but I know many women who read m/f or m/f/m romance pay more attention to the guys) and sometimes those screwups are HUGE. The point is whether they learn and get better afterward…at least to me.

In my latest release, the hero is faced with a decision I've been told has given some angst to readers. Understandably, because if I were reading it, I'd feel the same. When you bond with a heroine - when you become her in a sense - the hero making a choice that potentially will harm her hurts. So how far do you go in staying true to the character? Do you go all the way, balls to the wall (excuse the expression, but it fits in this case) or do you pull your punches, knowing you may piss some people off? It's a tough choice and I'm sure the answer will be different for every writer.

A couple of my heroines have also been called on the carpet for not being nice. I like trying to redeem characters, and I also need to keep myself entertained and engaged by writing characters with the full complement of emotions and flaws. Some deliberate too much. Some angst. Some are recovering narcissists. I can't keep writing the same character slightly tweaked, even if I know she may be more well-received. I'd get bored that way, as would my readers. And some people have enjoyed those more complicated heroines, so I guess it's truly a matter of what you prefer. As a reader myself, I love characters with flaws as big as their strengths...and occasionally even bigger. Watching them wrestle with their dark side and ultimately win is hugely satisfying to me.

I'm curious…as a reader are there things you just won't accept? In a romance, for example, if the hero/heroine sleeps with someone else after he's started to fall for the hero/heroine is that a dealbreaker or does it depend on circumstances? And writers…how far will you/won't you go in the pursuit of telling your story the way you think it needs to be told?

I'm looking forward to hearing your answers! And I apologize for the cross-post…I'm planning on being more bright-eyed and blog-inspired next week!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Not Well

Sorry folks, I'm breaking all kinds of friend laws to even post this, since I promised I'd stay off the computer. I couldn't leave you hanging.

Yesterday I went to the doctor. While they were going about their usual thing, weight, temp, blood pressure, they discovered something scary. Now, I'm a young woman but apparently stress has done a number on me and what they found scared them enough to keep me at the doctor for two and a half hours and a handful of meds.

This morning at five am., I was on the phone to 911. The hospital kept me for over six hours running tests because my stress/anxiety symptoms and ridiculous blood pressure (218/148 175/110 and all over the place) worried them into thinking I was having a heart attack. I didn't and my heart is perfectly fine. But folks, stress will kill you and I had a wake up call today that was completely sobering. I'm young. I have two little girls. This kind of thing is supposed to happen to the elderly or the middle-elderly, not to me. Not at my age.

If you have any concerns about your health, please take care of you. And thank you for your patience as I recover. I'll be back next week. Count on it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Romance writers wreck homes, promote adultery, & cause weight gain!

Okay before you start reading my brillant, witty & thought provoking blog for this week. PLEASE do me a HUGE favor. (Hush Regina!) I need friends on FB or else I'll never live the shame down. Brenna Zinn is taunting me, in a not nice or playful way. You don't have to talk to me or acknowledge me in anyway but as a FB friend. PLEASE!! If you've ever enjoyed my rambling blogs, my books, or my scintillating personality then please click the link below & save me from public humiliation. Or at least more humiliation than normal.

Now onto this week's real blog!!

Yes, you read right. As a romance writer I'm the cause of all your problems. Yes, fluffy butt quirky ole me, is responsible for the neighbor's dog pooping on your lawn, the flat tire you had in the rain, rising utility cost & the fact your boobs are starting to sag.

Okay, maybe not all that, but according to 'learned' psychologist romance novels MAKE women have unprotected sex so they'll be swept away by passion. Or somehow through mystical vibes I convince these same educated independent women to forgo protection after only a short time in the relationship.
I don't know about other writers...actually I do & all my characters and theirs use protection: No glove, no love! Yep, I have the power so beware you don’t tick me off or else I’ll have you rubbing dirty dime store lamps looking for a genie.

-We're also being accused of leading woman to search for more and deeper meaning in their lives and relationships.
Well, damn who knew I had that much power. Hmm, I'll take on world peace & that little chocolate=weight gain problem next. Really, what's the problem with people growing and expanding their horizons? Ignorance equals fear, which always leads to prejudice or more honestly plain stupidity.

-Next up in the line-up: Romance novels give women grandiose ideas of love.
And??? What the heck is wrong with that? Love is supposed to be amazing, frustrating, fun, scary & everything else under the sun. If it weren’t then the romance industry wouldn't sell billions of dollars of books every year. The music industry would crash, theatre owners would go bankrupt, & we won’t get started on the salon and lingerie business. Really would you wax there if there weren’t a man to love in your picture?

-Romance writers lead readers away from reality.
Again I say...AND? What part of fiction is so hard for shrinks to understand? It's not real! It’s a fresh break from a reality filled with a demanding job, demanding kids, demanding spouses, friends, housework, family and the little things that make up our daily lives.

-Romance novels make readers believe in myths and fairytales.
Umm, yeah this is a two-part problem as I see. One because (see above) there is nothing wrong with having an imagination and using it. Keeps life interesting and opens your mind. Part two when I go for a walk at night I don't expect to be attacked by hungry vampires, horny shifters, escaped demons, glittering fae princes or smart-ass demi-gods. I've never had a reader tell me they do either.

-Given the perspective of shrinks our readers should be dressed in fairy princess gowns, Zena warrior leather or some space pirate/princess babe. Able to eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce, never lose their cool while being shot at, bombs exploding or held prisoner by evil henchmen determined to take over the world. In this mindset our readers would also have psychic powers, incredible perky breasts that never sagged & the power to orgasm at the touch of a finger. Also in these good doctors opinions my readers should be trapping wolves while trying to get them to change & bite them. Or hanging around cemeteries waiting for the dead love of their soon to be immortal lives to rise. Better yet romance readers would be forever hiding in their homes, away from life terrified the serial killer, who for some reason focused solely on her, would kill her. ‘Cause it’s such a close possibility, right?
The Truth According to This Writer
My readers are intelligent women and men who know the difference between a reality created to entertain them and reality that involves picking up dog poop & forgetting to flush the toilet. Blaming romance writers for unplanned pregnancies, rising STDs, adultery and divorce is ridiculous and childish. No one can make someone do anything without his or her permission.
My take on this insane psychological study? It’s crap, an easy convenient excuse to shove the blame, guilt and responsibility anywhere, but where it belongs. On the adults in charge of their own actions.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to jump into the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean because I read that’s where all Poseidon’s demi-god sons hang out. And I want me some of that immortal hotness.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hauntings and Spooky Things

Can't believe I'm actually writing about hauntings and it's nowhere NEAR Halloween but we're going through a little thing here at house and I figured I'd get it off my mind. During the last school year, my daughter (who is a college student) told me that she believed her apartment was haunted. Her little dog acted weird at odd times...staring at her closet door. Seemed harmless enough but when she told me she'd gotten into the habit of stacking things up in front of her closet door only to find the door open the next morning and all the pillows moved away, I started to worry a little bit.

Now we've never had anything weird happen here at our house until recently. No spooky feelings of being 'watched' etc. but I'd begun to notice small things when my daughter came to visit. We have an alarm system and little boxes are on the ceilings in various rooms (motion detectors) that feature a red light when the alarm is engaged. I'd noticed that when she is home, that the box with the light in her bedroom blinks like crazy. Didn't get TOO alarmed except those little lights don't blink anywhere else in the house. She is now home for summer break and things are getting too crazy for comfort around here.

For the past couple of months my husbands computer turns on (all by itself) every Thursday at 2 pm. Very odd. I talked to my computer guys and they just kinda gave me a funny  'look' about all that. Computers don't turn on by themselves, do they? Someone actually has to push the 'on' button. Right? Around the first of June, my husband was attending a conference out of town so it was just my daughter and I hanging out at home. We had a habit of having 'movie night' in our family room so one evening we are huddled in there chilling out. We weren't watching anything especially scary or suspenseful, nothing that would cause our imaginations to overreact. My daughter heads across the house where we have a master bedroom, my husband's office and an extra bathroom in the hall. She suddenly calls out...Mom, Dad's computer is on.

Hey, it wasn't Thursday afternoon but Thursday night so that was new. I got up to head that way when she came around the corner with her eyes BIG. Mom, she said, the bathroom light turned on all by itself as I walked past. Okaaaaay. I say, did you turn it off. She said, yes, she did but she was freaked out and could I go turn off the computer. A chill raced over me because my daughter isn't prone to dramatics. I believed her. Totally.

I headed across the house and notice a light on in the master bedroom. Weird. She'd said a light was on in the hall bathroom but she'd turned it off. So I got about halfway across the living room and hollered at her. Hey! Did you say the hall bathroom or the master bedroom? She  replied it was the hall bathroom. Hmmmm. I turned off that light and felt a very creepy vibe. I'm not prone to hysterics either. A very sensible woman mostly. So I go back into the family room and my daughter and I discuss the weirdness with the lights. I said, aw, it's probably some strange glitch with the electricity. I think at this point I was lying through my teeth because the air felt 'off'. I didn't want my daughter scared though so I tried to be chill about everything. Finally, I get up and head into the kitchen and what do I see? The HALL light is on now. We hadn't left the family room, hadn't touched a thing. The office light is on too and my husband's computer is ON. Again!

I told my daughter I'd 'had enough of this shit' and go into my husband's office to deal with the computer. The lights were all on as I sat in the chair and looked around. Finally I said. "You are NOT welcome here. You are scaring us and you have to LEAVE." Can't describe the sensation that poured over me. My skin tingled, hair stood on end and my heart-rate accelerated. I KNEW something was there. Later when my husband called to check in and see how we were, I told him what was going on. He got really quiet and I knew, since he's not a dramatic guy, nor one who believes in ghosts and such, that he was mullling this over. In the end, my daughter and I, armed with a baseball bat and tennis racket headed through the house and into each closet, flipping on lights and checking things. Nothing. The house was empty except for two scared women, a cat and a dog. That was some time ago and nothing quite that dramatic has happened except with bizarre 'pops' in the air and the sensation that we are not alone.

A few days ago I talked with a friend who is 'connected' with this sort of thing. She offered advice on how to deal with this 'thing' that is hovering around. Looking for sage to burn and thinking seriously of ringing the perimeters of the house with salt. Anyone else have experiences like this?

In other news:
Return of the Daredevil (a sequel to Return to Delight) has been contracted by Ellora's Cave. I'm awaiting edits and a release date and a few days ago, I got the cover. I'm sharing it here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Did You Hear Me Scream?

My computer would not power up. I flipped out and went just a little bit crazy. And I didn’t do it quietly either. My kids gathered around me, worrying over what would happen next. The oldest asked if I was all right. The boy asked if it meant no dinner.

No I wasn’t all right. And yes it meant NO dinner. Who the hell wants to cook when the computer  dies? I was in mourning. I went to bed. I didn’t have a black nightie so I mourned in pink.

Oh the thoughts running through my head. Would I be able to retrieve all of my stuff? Was I going to have to buy a new computer? Was it going to cost me as much to fix this one as buying a new one? AND? How was I going to deal without email and Facebook?

Worse than that… how was I going to tell the world I was OFFLINE?

As luck would have it, the laptop had been sent off just the week before with the promise of a three-week turn around. I don’t have Internet on my phone. Only the oldest does. So after a couple of days of just stressing, chewing my nails, staring at the monitor, I broke down and emailed my friend EM and told
her what happened and to tell everyone. I was also able to get in touch with Regina, too.But I do apologize for missing my last two Monday blogs.

How do people deal with emailing from their phone? It’s all so tiny. Not for me. Anyway, I got the comp into the shop on Friday. Dude said it would be Tuesday before he could look at it because he had several ahead of me. Okay. I couldn’t argue, could I? Tuesday comes along and no word. I called on Wednesday to be told the part had been ordered and should be in by Thursday or Friday. Okay. Progress, right?

I called on Friday to get a recorded message that the DUDE would be closed for the holiday. Gone Friday, Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday! Jerk never told me about that. Oh well, nothing I could do about it. I actually tried writing longhand. No. Not something I can do anymore. So not happening. I spent my time painting the boy’s room and cleaning out closets.

Three different times I found myself sitting at my desk with a meal. Yep, sat down with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were things I kept wanting to do and would race to my office only to remember that my comp was GONE! I missed all of the birthday wishes on FB.

My mind was idle. Truly idle. There are only so many movies a person can watch. Ya know? I discovered a couple of things about myself through all of this. I don’t just count on my comp for writing and communication purposes. I rely on the Internet for news and weather and just information in general. TV, newspapers, and radio just don’t cut it for me anymore. None of those mediums can come close to what I can find on the Internet.

I also discovered I’m not quite as addicted to email as I thought I was. After the first three days, I sort of calmed down and realized that it would all be there when I got back online. I did continue to feel very anxious about not getting any work done, however.

Strip Down from Ellora’s Cave released on Friday. So I really had done nothing in the way of pushing it. Something I like to do two weeks before each release. Since I’ve been back online, I’ve done as much of that as possible, but I feel as though I’ve missed a window of opportunity. Sighhhh

I don’t do a lot of promo when I blog, but today I’m going to do just that. CAN YOU TAKE THE HEAT? If you think you can, run on over to Ellora’s Cave and get yourself a copy of Strip Down. Be careful—it burns!!!! 

BLURB:  What’s a topless dancer to do when a cop tells her to “spread ’em”? Cooperate, of course. Which is exactly what Jazzmyn Monroe does when her big-city dreams land her in a world of trouble and the arms of sexy detective Ryder Muldoon. Jazzmyn is no angel, but she doesn’t expect the rip-roaring, passion-filled rollercoaster ride given by one of L.A.’s finest.

An honest cop with a target painted on his back, Ryder is forced to go rogue if he wants to stay alive, and the hottest woman he’s ever laid eyes on is the key to his plan. It’s supposed to be just business with a side of sex. If only it were that simple. Jazzmyn’s sinful curves and aptitude for red-hot loving ramp up his libido…and a whole lot more.

EXCERPT:  Copyright © TESS MACKALL, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Rivers of blue smoke layered the air. The hoots and hollers of drunken men drilled through the savage strains of heavy metal music and surged within her body. Glass shattered and two rabid men faced off, the broken beer bottle each held nothing more than an extension of their cocks. Unfazed by the nightly display of testosterone-fueled, alcohol-induced rage, Jazzmyn turned her back to the scene and concentrated on working the runway patrons to her advantage.

“Grind it, baby, grind it!” shouted a man sitting a couple of feet away.

To reward the enthusiastic customer, she looked directly at him and smiled. Yeah, he’s good for a ten-spot at least. She pitched her hips in his direction then slowly rolled them back and forth. He lunged for her and she stepped out of reach.

Not so fast. Show me da money.

He held up a dollar bill, but the man next to him waved a twenty. We’re talkin’ my language now. She sucked on her finger, swaying her hips from side to side, and stared at the dark-haired Mr. Twenty. God, what a hunk. A little too clean-cut for this place. She figured he’d gotten lost from the rest of the convention pack he probably traveled with. For a moment she wondered what it would be like to wake up with someone like him every morning. Someone who didn’t belong here—the place where she did belong. Gesturing her closer with the crisp green bill, he never cracked a smile. Cool, not too excitable. Well, she’d just see about that. They all had a chink in their armor somewhere. It was simply a matter of pushing the right button.

Jazzmyn bent over and let her bare breasts dangle just above the money. He folded the bill lengthwise, making it good and stiff, and brushed it across her nipples. Oh shit. This guy knows what he’s doing. Lust swelled low in her belly and her cunt became moist. He had nice eyes. Dark blue. Eyes a woman could get lost in if she didn’t know any better.

And Jazzmyn knew one hell of a lot better.

A path of searing heat followed the double sawbuck on its journey down her torso to the tiny G-string that covered her clean-shaven pussy. His gaze locked with hers. She whipped upward and thrust her cunt at his face. He never even flinched, but it got her the twenty. His hot fingers lingered on her flesh as he tucked the green inside the string wrapped around her hips. Damn, he’d wound her up. Those deep-set eyes, intense and forbidden, stared up at her.

Wiggling her way to the pole at the center of the stage, she pressed her barely covered wet pussy to the cold metal and slid her slickened folds up and down the smooth steel. It was the special part of her little show. She dared a glance at the man. He shook his head and beckoned with a fifty.

Fuck! She often pretended to get off on stage, but this man didn’t seem to want that. What’s up with him? Her fake orgasm act on the pole usually netted her a hundred bucks in appreciative tips. It wasn’t as if she’d allow any of them to do the job. So why stop her? Then again, maybe she would let this one. He wasn’t the average asshole, was he?

What was she thinking? He was an asshole, all right, or he wouldn’t be here, would he? He’d be at home with his wife and kids. If she were his wife, she’d make sure he stayed at home. No chance of anything like that happening for her though.

Maybe he thought seventy bucks earned him the right to say when. Okay. She’d play along. Back to the man. Back to the money. Angling her knees outward, she squatted in front of him. Almost eye level, she stared him down. Make your move, honey.

His tongue snaked from his lips as he glanced down at her silk-covered cunt and back up at her eyes. Ohhhh, he wants to touch the pussy. I might look like an easy piece dancing around up here, showing my ass to keep a roof over my head, but it’ll take more than a fifty to get what you want, slick. Jazzmyn shook her head and rocked her hips forward. He nodded his understanding.

Stowing the fifty in his wallet, he withdrew a hundred and raised an eyebrow. She shook her head again. He coupled the hundred with another. His blue eyes darkened and narrowed somewhat, which she took to mean he’d reached his limit.

She grabbed the money and held it between her teeth as she flattened her hands on the floor behind her and heaved her hips into the air. The man dipped his head to her cunt. Only seconds remained before the bouncers would tear him away.

Then all hell broke loose and cops flooded the joint!

The man jumped from his chair and pulled her from the runway. Jazzmyn slapped at him but he tossed her over his shoulder and ran toward the rear of the club. Heart racing, blood rushing to her head, she looked up from her position on the guy’s back and saw the waitresses and customers being herded up against the walls and handcuffed. Why the hell were the cops raiding the club? She thought about screaming for help, but who the hell could—or would help her? The cops would take her to jail just like the rest of them. Her best chance was to hang on tight and hope the man carrying her knew what he was doing and that he wasn’t some sort of crazed serial killer.

Jazzmyn recognized the sound of the club’s metal door as her temporary savior shoved it open and rushed out into the alley where the heated air of the L.A. night met them. Mr. Good-Looking turned left toward the alley, which swung her dangling body to the right. The two hundred dollars she’d held crushed in her hand fell to the pavement with the jostling movement. Shit. She lifted her head once more, seeing the crumpled money skittering away on a breeze and slowly receding from sight. She watched in awe as police lights strobed and reflected off the large plate-glass windows in the few storefronts she could see.

The deeper the man ran into the alley, the darker it became—eventually growing lighter again as they reached the other end, where he set her down next to a car. What now? Would he let her go? Fear drummed inside her and dizziness from hanging upside down over his body overwhelmed her, buckling her knees. The strange man held on to her and she slumped against his massive chest. His strong heart thumped loudly in her ear—such a surprisingly soothing sound.

With the dizziness gone, she pushed off his arms. Damn, the guy must have spent hours in the gym. She looked up at his face to find him staring down at her. Shining bright with the glow of neon lights, his eyes stunned her. Definitely not your ordinary asshole.

He moved his face closer and her gaze strayed to his lips. She wondered how they would feel on hers. Mere seconds ticked by and their mouths came together. She breathed in his scent, so virile and spicy. His mouth tasted of whiskey, his tongue soft and warm twining with hers. And she was all but naked, just a tiny scrap of fabric separating them. Since when did she feel self-conscious about her state of undress? For that matter, when the hell had she started kissing customers?

His hands moved down her back and lower to cup her bare ass cheeks. Spasms of pleasure flared in her cunt. Her juices trickled. Sex in an alley with a man she didn’t know—dangerous, forbidden. What she was doing finally registered and she broke the kiss.

Her heart stuttered. It was one thing to perform on stage for money, maybe to cross the line and let a guy cop a feel for a little extra, but sex in a dark alley with a perfect stranger wasn’t something she’d bargained for. Why the hell had she ever left Georgia? In the last five years she’d bounced from one shithole to the next, one asshole to another. Searching for what? Love? Yeah, at first. Now she just wanted out, but there was no one or nothing to go back to. Not a single inviting rainbow on her horizon. She was stuck.

“I’m a dancer, mister. That’s all I do.” The words came out in a rush of air.

His hypnotic gaze bored into her. He brought his hand to her cheek and let his thumb brush her lips. Holy shit. What is he? Some kind of sexual Svengali? Rising and falling with his steady breathing, his chest grazed her naked breasts. She shuddered and he dropped his hand to cover one of the aroused peaks, fingers flicking the nipple. An almost torturous desire streamed through her.

“Oh, I think you can do a lot more than dance,” he said.

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, but Jazzmyn had always kept hers in her shoe so she could step on it herself. And this man’s lay-me-down-in-the-shade-and-fuck-me-honey voice had just nailed her to the pavement. Her body—and if given the chance, her heart—were going to roll over and play dead. Well, not dead. Done deal. She was as good as his.

“Ther-there’s a policy against fraternizing with customers.”

“We could be the exception to the rule,” he said.

That voice stalked her, moving in like a summer storm, and there was no place for her to run even if she could. It had been a long time since she’d actually wanted a man—lusted for one—and she sure as hell lusted for this one. Every once in a while those silly little-girl dreams of happily ever after popped into her head without warning.

This was one of those times.