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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sense-ible

A few nights ago a friend and I were filling our tummies with glorious Italian food. Antipasti, a trio of mushrooms, cheese and herbs in a puff pastry. Long, thick strands of fresh, pungent parmesan cheese. Warm breads. Entrees of seafood linguini with plum-sized sundried tomatoes and spinach fettucine in a divinely deadly cream sauce. (Okay, I'll pause so you can wipe up the drool or run off for a snack). In between oohs and aahs I said, wouldn't it be horrible if we couldn't taste any of this? Imagine if we had no sense of taste, were either born without it or had somehow lost it. Sure, we'd fill up, but with little or no palatable pleasure. How miserable would that be, to eat delicious foods and not taste a single morsel? We agreed that would be terrible, not being able to enjoy food flavors, but also agreed that if we had never possessed the ability to taste we wouldn't know what we'd be missing. So I asked my friend, If you had to give up one of your senses, which one would it be?

Hearing, he answered. Yes, there would be no more music but he at least he knew what it sounds like, having lived as a hearing person his entire life. All the other senses he wouldn't want to be without. For me the answer was sight. Yes, loss of the sense of taste, touch, smell or hearing would be traumatic. No more tasting great food, no feeling silky kitty fur or smelling a loaf of French bread fresh out of the oven or experience the thrill of a Beethoven symphony. Losing those abilities after years of knowing them would be devastating, but at least I've known them. I have millions of wonderful memories because of those four senses.

But to lose my sight would be the most devastating to me. To not see the ocean, or wildlife, reading my classical piano music, seeing movies, sunrises, family and zillions of other visual pleasures would be so difficult, BUT at least I have the memory of what all those look like. Books, however, I would miss the most. All the books I couldn't read, unless I wanted to learn Braille, which I positively would. That could take more years than I have coming to me. And writing my own books - the challenge there would be immense. Not impossible, not these days with all the amazing electronics we have for computers, and again, I absolutely would go that route if I had no sight. But I would so miss reading words with my eyes, admiring book covers, writing and editing and judging writing contests.

(One of the things I had to add to my I'm Thankful For list on Thanksgiving - having all my senses intact and in working order!)

This conversation led me to thinking up so many character ideas, one of the things I love about What If and If You questions. Like a sterno can under a cold serving tray, they get a simmer going and then its up to me to get it to a boil.

So, how about you? If You had to give up one of your senses, which one would it be?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Logical Actions and Reactions

Today, we are focusing on logic. Smile! Imagine me writing this article. Ha! What can I say? I am one of the most illogical people you will ever meet. When I started writing fiction I had to be told when my characters actions and reactions didn't make sense.

Why is this you ask? I think it's because I didn't think of my characters as real people with real thoughts, real feelings, and I didn't know how to make them real. I had to be taught to get into my characters head just like I had to gain knowledge of about every other aspect of writing.

I have learned (in most cases) to ask myself would I really do this? If I would, then I ask what my reaction would be. Here is a simple example: Tommy knocked Jane into the muddy puddle. Jane started crying lifting her dirty wet skirt out of the mud. This is Tommy's action and Jane's reaction.

What if Jane were a tomboy? Then that reaction wouldn't fit her character, crying fits a more prissy type of little girl. Tomboy Jane would be fighting mad. She would fight back. She might even drag Tommy into the mud with her.

Another scenario: Tommy pushes Jane onto the mucky ground and Bobby sees him do it and rushes to her aid. Jane, the tomboy half-blinded by mud and water rises screaming, her fists swinging and hits Bobby. If it were the dainty Jane, she would allow Bobby to help her up and lead her away while crying all the way. It depends entirely on your character what action reaction is chosen.

Learning the logical aspects of writing fiction is not any easier than the other elements we have to learn. It's all hard and takes time.

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
of Addiction and The Deceived
http://www.eirelander-publishing.com
http://www.skaymarshall.com

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Interview of Author Clarissa Yip

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Clarissa Yip.

Latest Book: Snowy Encounters
Buy Link: http://www.decadentpublishing.com

BIO:
As an avid reader and contemporary romance author, Clarissa had always been one to hide behind her romance novels so her evil friends and family will never find her. Child of four, she is known as the mischief maker and the runaway. Born and raised in New York, she left her mundane life as a manager in the beauty industry and traveled across the country and somehow ended up in Hawaii. On the beautiful island of Oahu, she has found a home with a foster family (aka. best friend) that took pity on her and her innocent wiles. Sent to scrub floors and wash dishes. (Partly true.)

Besides hiding on her Hawaiian island, Clarissa is also a content editor for http://www.breathlesspress.com. She enjoys writing, reading, scrapbooking, video games, shopping, and of course, torturing her friends with crazy ideas. She has an undergrad in Asian Studies and is also working on her Master’s degree in International Marketing with big goals of being published around the world.

Please join her as she ventures to the unknown as she wields her stories, escape to exciting adventures across the country, and shares the view of the world through the eyes of a writer.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: LOL. When I had first received noticed that my publisher was offering me a contract, the first thing that went through my mind was, “Are they crazy?” But after my nerves had settled, I was still in disbelief. I’m actually still not believing it now at times.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: All my heroes and heroines seem to have dark hair, blue or green eyes, and have more of an exotic look to them. I tried writing blonds, but they just don’t seem to want to talk to me because the hair color is wrong or I made them too hairy or something. Don’t know why…

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: I’m cupcake obsessed. If you give me a cupcake or brownie, I may love you forever. Oops, did I say that out loud?

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: My strongest point as a writer is messing with people’s emotions. I’m an emotional writer. I always want to dig into their heads and find each characters weaknesses and strengths and I need to know why they say and do anything they choose to do. It’s an annoying habit.

Q: You’re on a remote island with a handsome man, a computer, and a “mysterious” source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?
A: * snort * That’s an awesome question. Probably wish the man would turn himself into my cabana boy and tell him to leave me alone while I work and write. That’s really sad, isn’t it? Okay, I’m a workaholic…

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: I usually write contemporary romance, but someday I’d love to write a paranormal about dragons or something. I find them very enchanting and mystical. I love reading paranormals but finding the voice to write one has been a struggle for me.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
My website: http://clarissayip.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/clarissayip
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000836526793
Publishers:
http://www.decadentpublishing.com
http://www.lyricalpress.com
http://www.cobblestone-press.com

BLURB:

In the town of Five Oaks, where mysterious happenings occur, one will never know what they’ll find….

Successful Event Planner, Maddy Glover, dreads returning to her hometown for the holidays ever since her divorce. First time in three years, Maddy finds herself caught at the end of an avalanche, only to have her ex-husband come to her rescue like a white knight in rugged wheels.

Ambitious and desirable bachelor, Cole Harmon lives to rebuild the town, more so to forget the woman who didn’t believe he had enough to offer. Until Maddy shows up in her cute city-slicker attire, not appropriate for their little town. In need of a decorator for the holidays, Cole hires his ex-wife to help, only to be thrown into dark memories and snowy encounters that will melt the cold between them. Will their love resurface or will Maddy walk away once again?

EXCERPT:
“Let me go.”

He paused. Latching onto control and restraint, he dropped his hands with reluctance.

Maddy’s boot pivoted and she fell, landing in the snow. She glared up at him. He blinked then mirth struck him full force. She looked too adorable sitting on the ice, eyes darting fire. He almost doubled over when she cursed out loud.

“It’s not funny.” She huffed as she tried to stand.

Taking pity on her, Cole stifled his laughter and helped her up. Then, turning her around, brushed the snow off her ass. He tugged her skirt back into place, but couldn’t help lingering over the bottom curve of her butt and gave her a light pat.

“Stop that.” She moved away and frowned.

Cole grinned. He knew that look. She had it every time she was irritated over some thing, but couldn’t decide. “Stop what?” he asked, innocently.

Her eyes narrowed. “You know what I’m talking about. Every time you touch me, something happens.”

He crossed his arms and leaned against the door. “Like what?”

Her fingers balled into fists at her sides. “Cole Harmon, don’t you dare mess with me. You know what I’m talking about.”

Cole chuckled and reached into the back seat for the suitcase. “We better get you inside and dry that cute butt of yours before it freezes in the cold. Wouldn’t want you to get frostbite before you go back to the city.”

Maddy growled. She rushed past him to the driveway. He watched as she slowed her steps and carefully trudged to the door in her dangerous heels.

He grinned.

She hasn’t changed all that much.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for having me! And also for your patience.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter With The Ancient Celts


As I write Celtic/Romances, I invite you to come with me back through the mist of time to the ancient tribes of the Celts in early winter. Many changes marked the transition from fall to winter: salmon returned to spawn in the river pools, white, waxy mistletoe berries were the last autumn fruit to appear, also the tribes brought their shaggy red cattle in from outlying pastures to a nearby field or an enclosure within the village and the first of the winter hay would be set out for their feed. The Celts' sleek, agile horses had to be bought in too. One of the main ways the tribe prepared for the dark cold days was with cattle raids. Any tribe that didn’t have enough livestock to get them through the long, cold winter would consider grabbing some from a neighboring tribe.

Here’s an excerpt of a cattle raid from The Wolf and The Druidess:

“No, he is in danger,” Seren snapped.
“It is our only chance. If we lose milk and beef, the entire tribe could starve during the winter.” Hywell shook his head.
“What harm could possibly befall me? The Silures cannot hurt me if I turn them to ice, first,” Gwydion said.
“My mother would not warn me unless the threat was real,” Seren said. “I myself sense danger, but it may not be from the Silures. You must be careful.”
“Seren, he is a god,” Hywell said.
“Yes, what could happen to me?” Gwydion said.
Rather than answer, she peered into Gwydion’s eyes. “Swear to me, you will take heed.”
“Yes, I will return to you unharmed.” Gwydion pulled his wand from the pouch tied to his side and brandished it high. “I am ready.” He swirled the ash stick, decorated with Celtic spirals, through the air in a sweeping motion.
“Foes of the Ordovices
Your raid is condemned.
I forbid your flight.
Winter’s embrace,
Shall halt your escape,
Frozen like ice.
For the tribe to find.”
A blue light with the power of a lightning bold shot from the wand. Gwydion knew everyone in the village could feel the surge, and he noticed Seren and Hywell had clung to each other during the mighty blast.
“It is done,” he said to them.
“Now you must shift into wolf form,” Seren said to Gwydion as she released her hold on Hywell.
After Gwydion eased off his horse, his body blurred from one form to the next as his limbs shortened and his flesh shifted into a pelt of white fur. The wolf stood before Seren once more.
Hywell gasped. “Gwydion, do not get too near the cattle, you will spook them.”
The wolf nodded, and as he darted off, Seren goaded her horse into a hard gallop. Hywell followed.

The main food for the ancient Celts during winter was porridge or what we call oatmeal yet they did supplement their diet by hunting, and boar was a favorite animal to hunt.

So here’s a boar hunting excerpt from Druid Bride:


Loud grunts and yells assaulted her ears as a charging beast and warriors headed straight toward them. She barely managed to jump out of the way of a raging, sharp tusked boar. A warrior burst out of the woods with more fierceness than the wild beast. He leapt like a deer. Beneath his short tunic, his long, lean, bare legs raced at the speed of a bird in flight. He pulled to a halt with the flexibility of a leather thong, bent back and then leaned forward to launch a long, black spear. The weapon soared through the air, struck hard, and impaled the beast. The boar’s high-pitched squeal tore through the forest air as it twitched in its death throes.

Tanwen nodded toward the warrior and his prize. “Good throw.”

Of course one of the main things for the ancient Celts was to figure out how to stay warm on those long winter nights.

Here’s a heated excerpt from Druid Bride:


Tanwen’s fingers played with the golden torque around her neck as she gazed at Brude. She drank in his masculine beauty as he gulped the sweet, thick mead. After the feast, she would honor him in her own way in their chamber, in their bed. Tanwen silently vowed they would heat their bedchamber in the dead of winter, hotter than the glowing hearth fire. Brude gnawed on the leg bone, ravishing it as he gazed at her with fire in his eyes. She burned for him. The pit of his stomach tingled, and it wasn’t from the mead. Her pulse pounded from just gazing at him. She studied the inviting mouth and arresting eyes on his lean, tan face. She reached out her hand and covered his wrist with hers. Lacing his fingers in hers, she squeezed his hand. His lips came down on hers in a slow, shivery kiss. Her mouth burned.

When the harper began to play and the dancing started, Brude stood, taking Tanwen’s hands in his, and pulled her to a standing position as he gazed into her eyes. “I would rather dance with you, alone.”

“Yes.” Tanwen whispered.

Arm in arm, they strolled to the wheelhouse, and as soon as they reached the door, Brude covered her mouth with his. She wrapped her smooth arms around him. Her pulsating heat shot through him. Lifting her off her feet, cradling her in his arms, he carried her inside and laid her on the smooth bull hide draped over the soft pallet. She let out a low, whispery moan. His heart beat erratically.

For more of my ten Celtic/romance novels please visit me at
http://CelticRomanceQueen.com
And feel free to take one of my novels to bed with you along with a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly December night.

Happy Holidays,

Cornelia Amiri

Friday, November 26, 2010

Seasonal Gifting

Tis the season for gift giving and my daughter Nikki and I devised a way for me to give away my entire backlist. Yep, that's right, the ENTIRE backlist. In addition, since I didn't have enough books to give away a book a day during December, I asked some friends to help me out. Now, I'm giving away books every day for 30 days. THIRTY. Starting today, the day after Thanksgiving and going through all the way to Christmas Day when I'll give away the entire series (to date) of Christmas Cowboys short stories.

See, Nikki and I thought about all the nice fan mail I get and the comments on blogs and in chats and on loops. People are usually pretty nice to me. They don't have to be. They can just read my stuff and move on. No one has to go out of their way to speak up and tell an author that they loved their book. But people DO. And in this age of instant gratification and out of sight out of mindness, I appreciate the time and effort it takes for someone to tell me they liked my work. Now, it's my turn to tell all of YOU that I appreciate you.

My way of appreciating readers is to give you more to read. And give you things to read that don't cost you anything except a few minutes to read a blog post and post a comment. Think of it as my way of participating in seasonal gifting. I'll be gifting 30 people with books that are the effort of my hard work as well as the hard work of some very talented authors who appreciate their readers just as much as I do.

This is also a neat way of introducing my readers to authors who may be new to them. Maybe someone has heard of Jennifer Leeland but never read one of her BDSM themed books. Maybe they want to, but never got around to getting one. Or maybe they never thought about picking up one of Selena Illyria's IR books. Or something M/M by Z.A. Maxfield. Or one of Regina Carlysle's shifters. These books span the genres from romance to spooky dark tales, from M/F to M/M, from contemporary to paranormal, from sweet to erotic. There's something here for everyone.

And it is all my gift to you this holiday season. With a little help from my friends. :)

My daughter thought it would be a neat tradition for me to do this every year now. Businesses send out holiday cards. Families and friends exchange gifts. I am going to give readers an escape from holiday stress. The chance to escape into a book. I like the idea of making the 30 Days of Christmas into a Lex Valentine tradition. It makes me feel warm and happy inside to be able to join together with my friends and give something back to readers.

Now, I'd like to see all of you take this idea and run with it. Oh, not give away books (don't want anyone to be a pirate!), but maybe get together with some friends and pool your talent, time and/or money and do something nice for someone who isn't expecting it. Working together to make something happen can be its own reward sometimes. The satisfaction you receive will make you feel as if you're the one who has been given a gift.

I know that I am excited to do this and not one of the 30 posts I'll have to prepare will be a chore. I cannot wait to read the happy exclamations of the winners. I think I'm as excited as a five-year old on Christmas Eve. And I can totally relate to the old adage that it is better to give than to receive.

So come on by the Lex Valentine blog over the next 30 days and maybe you can win a book. I know I will be more than happy to give you one should I draw your name from the comments.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interview of Author Lily Harlem


Today it's my pleasure to present an interview of romance author Lily Harlem.

Latest Book: ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’
Buy Link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=639
BIO:
Lily Harlem lives in the UK with a workaholic hunk, a crazy ginger cat called Rupert and a delightfully uncontrolled addiction to chocolate.

She writes mainly contemporary erotic romance and her stories are made up of colorful characters exploring their sexuality and sensuality in a safe, consensual way. With the bedroom door left wide open the reader can hang on for the ride and Lily hopes by reading sensual romance people will be brave enough to try something new themselves – after all, life’s too short to be anything other than fully satisfied.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: It was on a summer’s day and I had a big garden party planned for all my friends. In the morning, whilst elbow deep in pastry and salad dressings, I received an email to say I’d sold a spankingly naughty tale called ‘Stable Manners’ to Violet Blue. It was for her anthology ‘Best Women’s Erotica 2010’ and boy did I celebrate that night – the Pimms and white wine went down far too easily! It was a great feeling to have been acknowledged as a writer but I suffered for it the next day – in fact just them memory of it makes me wince. But I was so thrilled to see my name and words in print a few months later it was all worth it, the hard work and the hangover.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: The middle of the book is the easiest for me – partly because I know my characters so well by then their dialogue and actions flow easily and also because in the middle I’m halfway through the hard slog of writing a novel - it feels like a weight is lifting from my shoulders but I still have time for fun. They say the best place to be is in the middle of reading a good book, the same is true for writing, it really is a good place to be.

I also love the point where the plot and characters are coming together. I get so immersed in the scenes and the romance (and the sex) that it becomes like real life to me – especially if I’m lucky enough to get several uninterrupted hours of just writing. It transports me to another world – I love it and it’s why I write.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: In ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’ it would have to be the heroine, Bridget, bless her, she dreams very publicly and very noisily about what she wants and as I wrote it I was so embarrassed for her my toes were actually curling.

I also like that she’s always been such a sweet, good girl doing the right thing year after year and then when she gets the chance she’s naughty and kinky and grabs hold of the chance to turn her wildest fantasies into reality.

It turns out the bad girl’s sack of coal was Bridget’s ideal Christmas present all along, forget the pink striped candy canes, they’re not for her at all, she’s dirty, so dirty in fact she doesn’t even deserve the lump of coal, just the coal dust!

As for a favorite character overall I think Ariane from ‘Shared’ although it’s hard to choose. Ariane is feisty and soft all at the same time and she has a broad enough mind to enter into a relationship with two men she’s attracted to and who both want her. She trusts them but not without demanding trust back and together they travel on a journey of sexual discovery.

‘Shared’ was just a total blast to write, Ariane felt like a friend, a heroine and just the luckiest damn woman on earth as I was writing this book. Not that I’m jealous of course!

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroines? Tell us about your heroine.
A: Oh, good question. I think probably my novel ‘Thief’ because it’s such an action packed story both in and out of the bedroom, and also its set in London, one of my most favorite places in the world.

The heroine is called Kat and she’s a lying, thieving little witch who you can’t help but be fascinated by. As the tale unfolds you learn more and more about her and realize that she’s not the confident woman she projects to the world, she is in fact a messed up little soul who’s just doing what she needs to do to survive. Kat is curvy and pretty with sleek black hair and intelligent green eyes, I’m thinking maybe Lindsay Price who plays Victory in Lipstick Jungle would be good as her, or perhaps Angelina Jolie when she was younger, and not so thin. Although whether or not they would act out all the scenes is a whole other question – ‘Thief’ gets very steamy.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: No, not at all. I always have a definite look for my heroes and heroines, it keeps them real in my head and for the reader. If you put all my characters in a room they’d all look very different. Also I like to give them each a physical individuality, for example a tattoo or a piercing and/or something about their bodies they’re not so happy about, maybe too big or too small breasts, an identifying mole or a bad scar.

I create lots of different body types and looks too, sometimes buff and muscular, a chiseled jaw line and blue eyes works for a male character and other times I like them lean and graceful. I like tans but I also like pale skin contrasting with dark hair combined with a sprinkle of black stubble and a sparkle in green eyes - I think there’s something very British about that look.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I like to paint, it’s not extreme or dangerous I know but if I get the chance, particularly in the summer, I like to take my watercolors and a canvas down to the lake near where I live – sometimes I take a sneaky bottle of wine too! – the colors there are so vivid and it buzzes with life; swans and moorhens, giant dragonflies and a whole range of different species of butterflies. I like the details but my paintings tend to come out a bit abstract and capture a mood rather than looking like a photograph – which I guess is the idea of a painting.

I also love to look at art and have been lucky enough to visit art galleries all over Europe – I would say my most favorite one though, predictably, is the Louvre in Paris. It’s just so inspiring and the building itself is so ancient and mysterious it tells a story around every corner and beneath every room. Oh, it makes me shiver, if only walls could talk.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Website: http://www.lilyharlem.weebly.com Twitter
Ellora’s Cave: http://www.jasminejade.com/m-640-lily-harlem.aspx
Total-E-Bound: http://www.total-e-bound.com/authordetail.asp?A_ID=128
Xcite Books: http://www.xcitebooks.com/category-208/XB2032.html


BLURB:
A Finnish skiing holiday is the perfect winter wonderland for Bridget to escape her ex at Christmas time - beautifully decked trees, roaring log fires and plenty of mulled wine. What she doesn't count on, however, is a very erotic, very dirty dream on the plane from London to Levi - three perfect lovers all indulging her every whim and desire, how could she not moan and groan and beg for more?

But every dream must end, and as Bridget wakes, with toe curling embarrassment, she realises every passenger on the plane has heard her frantic orgasm...including the gorgeous Irish guy sitting to her left!

ADULT EXCERPT:
The two men began to thrust in perfect sync. One in, one out, riding her senses into realms of ecstasy she never thought she’d go. The fire hissed. A log tumbled out. They didn’t notice; they kept on fucking, the men intent on pleasuring her before themselves.

But it still wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

Bridget moved her head, her mouth open and searching. She knew it would be there somewhere—she just had to find it.

Ahh, there it was, another beautiful cock being offered forward on a hand wearing a thick, black ski glove. She glanced up. The owner of the penis wore a reflective, orange ski mask and his mouth was set in a hard line; determined, eager, impatient. But she needed no extra persuasion. This was the icing on the cake, the final piece of her jigsaw.

She leant forward and sucked him in greedily, eating him up like a starving woman. She rolled his glans around her tongue then thrust him against the back of her throat. He hissed like a punctured tyre and began to time his rhythm with the other two cocks invading her body.

Bridget whimpered in delight and gave control over to her three expert lovers. Now she could indulge in an orgasm. This was how it was supposed to be, every hole filled, every carnal desire indulged at the same time. Her womb and anus were being pounded into, sublime cocks sweeping past every nerve ending. Her mouth was absorbing the heat and lust of the sexy man looming over her. He clasped her head between his gloved hands. The roaring in her ears reached a crescendo as she climbed the ladder to satisfaction, letting her clit lead the way.

Suddenly she was there, suspended in a moment of sheer bliss, the glorious anticipation of magnificent contractions and spasms within reach. She sucked harder, groaned and moaned, pushed backwards into the cocks fucking and buggering her. Then it consumed her; washed through her, wave after wave of hammering delight.

“You want more?” the guy with the ski goggles asked in his husked, unfamiliar accent.

Bridget nodded around his cock—she wanted this to carry on forever. Please let this never stop.

“Would you like some mortar?” he said again.

Bridget nodded, letting her womb spasm around the cocks buried so deeply within her.

“Are you alright, would you like some water?” A female voice interrupted the guy with the ski goggles.

Bridget felt a soft hand rest on her forearm. The roar in her ears was so loud it was disorientating and confusing. But it wasn’t being caused by a set of hands covering her ears any more. In fact, there was no set of hands covering her ears.

“Madam, is there anything I can get you?”

Anything else you’d like to add?
To celebrate my being here on Thanksgiving I’m giving away a copy of my Christmas e-book ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is visit my website http://www.lilyharlem.weebly.com and leave me a message telling me which of my stories, book covers or characters is your favorite and why – also there’s two free read links on my site if you’ve got time to hang out.

Good luck, best wishes and thanks so much for having me RBRU, Contest ends 1 December and I’ll send out the prize immediately! The winner will be announced on my website.

Lily Harlem, Winner of the 2009 Love Honey Award for Erotic Fiction

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Writer's Thanksgiving

The following first appeared in Footnotes, the newsletter for Dunes & Dreams Romance Writers


Here in the United States, November is traditionally the month where most people spend some time reflecting on the good things in their lives: health, family, friends, etc. While I have all of those rewards in my daily life, I’m also grateful for all the advantages I have as a writer. I, therefore, proudly present my list of blessings to reflect upon--from a writer’s point of view.

1. The Internet. From companionship to research to purchase power, the Internet is a writer’s best friend (sorry, spouses). Thanks to this marvelous system, we stay in touch with other writers, find out how to make a body decompose faster, and instantly buy a book based on the excerpt we just finished reading online. Can you imagine showing this technology to someone like Mark Twain, Jane Austen, or Charles Dickens? Do you think it would make them more prolific or less so? Because let’s face it. Although the Internet is a great tool, Farmville, email, and YouTube can also make it a bit of a time suck. Still, in my eyes, the instantaneous benefits far outweigh the vampire vibes. Thank you, Internet, for just being you!

2. Office supply stores. Looking for paper, ink, electronics, Post-It notes, software, coffee, giant bags of chocolate (and those big square containers of individually wrapped Twizzlers)? Want a comfy new desk chair? Yeah…they got that. All that a writer needs to survive can be found in this glorious mecca for authors. When the apocalypse comes, I’ll be safely camped out in my local Staples. I figure I can live there comfortably for lots of years. Where are you going? A bomb shelter? Puh-leez. How are you going to get Internet service underground?

3. E-publishing. Over the last ten years, while traditional houses were churning out Scotland historicals and secret babies, the electronic market allowed writers “on the fringe” the opportunity to become mainstream. Erotic romance, paranormal romance, and the non-traditional settings have all become popular in the e-market. And traditional publishers have paid attention, widening their markets, as well. I see a great future for this venue, thanks to its convenience, ecological impact, and flexibility.

4. E-readers. The hard truth? Readers are addicts. Sure, our habit is legal, but it’s also difficult to control. We need to constantly feed our need for great stories. So we’re the ones trolling Amazon at two in the morning or walking with eyes glazed more than a Krispy Kreme through our local bookstores. We don’t see the library scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as a sweet moment of generosity between the hero and heroine. For us, it’s a goal! Unfortunately, palace residences with massive libraries are rare these days. Thus, the electronic book reader allows us to indulge our addiction without killing trees or moving the baby outside to a tent to make room for us to store our “keepers.” And thanks to instant downloading, we no longer have to leave home or camp out on the porch until the UPS man shows up with our latest fix. We can have instant gratification!

5. The home office. In the old days, writers had typewriters. And typewriter ribbons. Revisions were a nightmare of Wite-Out and retyping whole pages for one or two lousy words. Copies required pumping a roll of nickels into Xerox machines at libraries, or slipping the pages surreptitiously into work being done at the day job. Now we have the ability to change whole paragraphs (or pages!) with a few clicks of the mouse. We can email as many copies as we need, or print out entire manuscripts in minutes—all from our cozy homes.

6. Peapod delivery, the Roomba and Scooba, and the Keurig. Oh, be still my heart. With the touch of a few buttons, you can feed the family, get the floor cleaned, and have all the coffee your little heart desires. And you never have to leave the comfort of home (are you sensing a pattern here yet?). Even the K-cups for coffee are available online (my favorite site is Kenozacoffee.com) and delivered right to your doorstep.

7. RWA. No, I’m not sucking up. Honestly. How many writers’ organizations accept unpublished, unskilled hopefuls and give them the tools to succeed? RWA is 10,000 members strong, a number that’s tough for anyone to ignore. Toss in the affiliated chapters, and you’ve got, at your disposal, all the resources you need to reach your dreams. How could you not be thankful for all the information on the writing life and the publishing business available at your fingertips?

8. The storytellers who came before. Whether we’re discussing William Shakespeare or Nora Roberts, from the cave dwellers of prehistoric times to the top author on today’s NY Times bestseller list, those who’ve come before us have shaped the writing world. We write and believe we can succeed because they wrote and succeeded. My eternal gratitude goes out to all of them.

Your list may vary. Regardless, these are great times to be a writer. No matter how or when you celebrate your Thanksgiving, may your blessings be many and your rejections few!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interview of Author Mark Damaroyd

Today it's my pleasure to present an interview of romance author Mark Damaroyd.

Latest Book: Pursuit to Paradise
Buy Link: http://www.decadentpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=148&osCsid=jv376q821afdc5fjlqsrq103e2
Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/user/markdamaroyd#p/a/u/1/2-hTjTwZXSg

BIO:
I needed to change direction, so moved from England to Thailand.

Each day provides a fresh slant on life and an unexpected event – a fiction writer’s dream. However, distractions still hamper productivity, but if elephants are strolling past your house…

A number of my articles have been published in periodicals. The British Arts Council offered encouragement regarding an earlier novel, and I’ve won several short story competitions in writers’ circles. I am writing fulltime nowadays and my next novel is underway, with ideas for more.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me along today. You have a busy schedule, so I’m really grateful.

Q: What part is the easiest?
A: Setting the scene is fairly straightforward. I’ve lived in Thailand for some years, including on islands similar to the imaginary Koh Pimaan, which I had to dream up because of the naughty goings-on there. I never came across such amazing antics elsewhere. Endeavoring to convey something of the unique atmosphere, and sights to be found in The Land of Smiles required a bit more effort. I want readers to easily relate, bouncing along happily with characters as they plunge into action. The people of Thailand always smile, in good and bad times they smile even at me and the many thousands of westerners who’ve settled here. It seemed a good idea to tell my story with lots of humor. Before relocating to Thailand, I spent long periods in quaint English villages, similar to those featured in the story. Dramatic differences in climate, lifestyles and attitude provide contrast, changing from scene to scene as a subplot unfolds.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: Getting the style of English spoken by the characters correct. In, Pursuit to Paradise, there’s a mixture of Thai, American, English, Scandinavian, Indonesian, Australian and others. The heroine – or is she? – from Thailand, mysteriously speaks perfect English – much better than me. Other Thais in the book struggle with it. Then I spent ages researching acceptable English spelling for the few Thai words dotted here and there. Capturing the American, Australian and East London tone proved a challenge too. I hope it comes across okay. The other hard part was deciding how much detailed sex needed to be included. The outrageous, quirky romance and humorous adventure is sensual, but graphic sex wasn’t required. I feel sometimes leaving a bit to the readers’ imagination whets the appetite. It slots into heat level 2 category. I’m deeply indebted to my publishers, Decadent Publishing. They helped tremendously in getting it all together.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Ben, the hero, because his outlook on life makes me smile. When he finds himself in a bit of a predicament, his snap reaction hurtles him into an adventure beggaring belief. I certainly don’t agree with him all the time. He’s native to a small English village, similar to where I spent many happy years, so he gets my support. To be honest, there’s a bit of me in him as well. I came here originally on vacation, then to work. In those years I discovered the laidback lifestyle and carefree attitude suited me just fine. Now I have a lovely Thai wife who puts the crowning touch on everything.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you ‘head write’?
A: Absolutely not. I identify with each of them in a special way. After creating them, and building their distinctiveness, they become real and very different. I go to bed with them and wake up with them – oh, not the guys! - they drop in later. I never forget which perfume I smell in a girl’s hair – or what she wears under her outer garments. If I’ve created someone not so inviting, I turn over, hoping to embark on a new dream. Ask my wonderful Thai wife. As for heroes, they must have characteristics that make them stand out in the make-believe world I send them to.

Q: You’re on a remote island with a beautiful woman, a computer, and a “mysterious” source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?
A: What a coincidence. It sounds a lot smaller than Koh Pimaan, though. I unplug the computer before sparks fly when she appears without– er – with a cooked breakfast. Later, she goes off to refuel the mysterious source of electricity and the computer blows up. She’s too hot and we have a useless computer – so unfortunate. How do we kill time? No? Okay, let’s move on.

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Chats, or Twitter. Which do you like best and why?
A: Facebook, because it’s easy to make friends. It also allows insertion of pics, links and a good sharing facility. I’m gradually getting to grips with Twitter – slowly building up a following. Blogging isn’t my forte – it should be, because of the terrific author-reader contact. I manage to get a goodly number of hits by posting in forums around the globe, including some in Thailand with mainly a male following. Many guys out this way love cheeky books – or their Asian partners do. Posting comments on other peoples’ blogs also attracts hits. Taking out free ads has been amazingly successful in getting visitors to my site. One tiny classified on a popular website, renewed and revised regularly, sends the highest number of hits on a daily basis. I guess using the ‘services offered’ section helps – if you get my drift. It’s all down to wording. Oh, while I think of it. It isn’t me on the cover of ‘Pursuit’. I’m still getting messages from females seeking a relationship from one or two well-known social network sites. Dara England did a wonderful job with the cover design. Thanks, Dara. Because I don’t blog from my own site, I introduced a feature called ‘Gossip, muse or tell a story’. Anyone can email through Mark Damaroyd’s Fun Emporium and, after moderation, some of the stuff is great to link up to the other networks – with a valuable link back.

Tell us where to find you!
website: http://markdamaroyd.blogspot.com
publisher: http://www.decadentpublishing.com
Direct link: http://tinyurl.com/26e7qx3
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#%21/markdamaroyd
Twitter: http://twitter.com/markdamaroyd
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/markdamaroyd#p/a/u/1/2-hTjTwZXSg

BLURB:
In the worldwide recession of 2009, Ben Lofthouse plans to rebuild his life on Koh Pimaan, a paradise island in Thailand. Desperate to escape the increasing hostility of the locals who blame him for his failing businesses, and determined to find the beautiful but mysterious Nataya who has disappeared, Ben is plunged into an adventure which may prove fatal.

Surrounded by beautiful women, but relentlessly pursued by a former girlfriend, and stalked by a notorious gangster, an unexpected romance develops. A new friendship catapults Ben into both increasingly sensual and dangerous situations. With a bevy of beauties at his side, he finds himself drawn into erotic moviemaking at Casa Blanca, a spectacular hillside villa.

Ben's dreams seem destined to become reality. But an amazing piece of news he has received could change his life forever, or bring it to an untimely end...

EXCERPT:
Nataya stood naked in front of the wardrobe mirror, brushing her shiny black, waist-length hair, seemingly flattered that the man behind her watched every move. She glanced at Ben’s reflection as he sat on the end of the bed. “You look as though you have never seen a girl with no clothes on before,” she said in perfect English.

“I’ve never looked at one as stunning as you.”

“There are many beautiful ladies in Thailand. I think you are just saying that.”

Ben got up, finished buttoning his shirt, and stood beside her. “You’re so tiny.” The top of her head just about reached his chin. “You Thais are some of the most beautiful girls in the world.” He admired her curves and smooth slender legs.

Nataya continued grooming her hair.

Ben picked up his camera from the chair, found a position where the flash wouldn’t reflect in the glass, and snapped a sideways angle.

“How many more do you want? We must have taken at least a hundred by now.” She turned to face the camera. “Do you like this one?” She smiled into the lens, brilliant white teeth contrasting with the darkness of her skin.

“Great. Fantastic.” Ben checked the result on the LCD screen before scrolling back to some shots taken earlier. “Wow! I see Thai girls are double-jointed. Girls where I come from couldn’t possibly achieve some of these positions.”

And most Thai men could not possibly achieve the same as you. It is all about body differences.” She giggled and moved to sit at the dressing table to apply her makeup.

Ben put the camera down and walked round the bed to stand behind her, stroking her narrow shoulders, gliding his hands down her delicate arms, easily encircling her tiny wrists with a thumb and finger. “Just like kiddies’ arms,” he told her, letting go as she shook him away good-naturedly.

“We will be here all day if you carry on like this.” She inspected the scarlet varnish on her fingernails, lifting her legs a little to make sure the toes weren’t in need of redoing.

Ben sat on the bed again, choosing a spot where he could still watch her in the smaller mirror.

The creams and powder lightened her skin – Ben noted how popular this trend had become. Her dark, almond-shaped eyes exuded sensuality as she applied eye shadow and penciled her brows that arched away, tapering perfectly. Her cute nose with slightly flared nostrils added yet another touch of elegance. When she finished putting on glossy red lipstick, she resembled an exquisite porcelain doll.

Ben nodded his approval, wondering how she could afford the luxury of gold earrings, a magnificent gold necklace, and matching bracelet. He hadn’t had a Thai partner before. A few days ago, his English girlfriend had packed her bags and left in a rage after endless arguments.

“How many times have you been to Thailand, Ben?”

“Oh, goodness knows, many times. Why?”

“I was just wondering. That girlfriend of yours – she seemed very cool toward me. In fact, she seemed not to like Thai girls an awful lot at all.”

“She was fine on our first visits, but more recently she became envious – probably due to her paranoia about age.”

“How old is she?”

“Thirty-eight.”

“She still looks very attractive. In Thailand, when a woman has raised a family and reaches her thirties, she is considered past it.”

“I think that’s crazy. Just look at Duggie’s Jaidee. She’s, what? Forty-something? But still very beautiful.”

“Sure, but Jaidee doesn’t have babies.” She stood to slip on her tiny silk g-string and fastened the bra, pulling up each breast to create more cleavage. She tucked her floral print blouse into the black skirt and adjusted the name badge before stepping into black stiletto-heeled shoes. She dabbed on a little Gucci Envy, and packed all the items into her Dolce & Gabbana bag. “Ready?”

They went down the stairs.“See you later, darling.”

Nataya pecked him on the cheek before resuming her duties behind the reception desk.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to say how much I appreciate your kindness. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you. This is a friendly, informative and wonderful place to be.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I’m a fan of Amber Skyze for several reasons, her stories are always fun to read and she’s such a nice person. Another reason is I always learn about a new naughty trick or toy that leaves me with something steamy to think about.
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of relaxing with some great music, a chocolate latte and Amber’s latest book “Gettin' Lucky”.
I read Gettin' Lucky in a single sitting because I got pulled in deep from the first few pages and couldn’t stop reading. A lost morning was worth it. I absolutely enjoyed being drawn in by this book.
“Gettin' Lucky” is part of Ellora’s Cave “Cougar Challenge” series. There are a lot of wonderful books in this series by many talented authors including Romance Books R Us sorority sister Fran Lee’s “Nothing but Sex”, which is an excellent read.
I want to be one of the first to say “Gettin' Lucky” is a great addition to the Cougar Challenge mix.
This contemporary story covers all the bases. The heroine gets a full-throttle adventure and the ultimate fantasy fulfillment, risks are taken, the romance is sweet, the sex is hot and there’s a surprise here I don’t believe I’ve ever read in women’s erotic fiction—and I will say I was surprised.
I’ll tell you a little about Lucky in a moment.
I loved the heroine, Marcy Brown. Marcy is a forty-one year-old business owner of a neighborhood grocery store but she’s also a wounded heart on the mend following a crushing divorce from her ex who left her for a much younger woman and nearly bankrupted the store as well. Marcy is not too keen to get involved again or go on dates but her body and heart can’t ignore Lucky, the handsome young masseuse who helps her work the kinks out every Friday at her weekly massage therapy appointment. Lucky cares about Marcy and thoughtfully remembers the details of their weekly conversations. Naturally, Marcy feels a deep attraction to Lucky and begins to fantasize about him.
I found Marcy easy to like and relate to. This book gets off to a quick and slightly embarrassing start. Poor Marcy’s woozy mother babbles about her attraction to a young doctor in the recovery room following hand surgery. Nurse “Elizabeth” overhears the conversation and discreetly hands Marcy a business card with the Cougar Challenge blog information printed on it.
Marcy visits the blog and is both curious and mortified to admit she too like her horrible ex, finds the idea of a younger partner very attractive. She contacts the Cougars by email and accepts the challenge to take a younger lover. She vows to approach her fantasy man Lucky, and enjoy a no-strings attached encounter.
Lucky is a blue-eyed dreamboat with gifted hands. He’s thirteen years younger than Marcy but very sensitive and attentive. “Lucky” for Marcy Lucky has been fantasizing about getting his hands on her outside of a therapeutic session.
After realizing they are openly flirting Lucky asks Marcy to sign off as a client and invites her upstairs to his apartment for a different kind of hands on therapeutic session that leaves them both seeing stars.
Marcy loves her evening with Lucky but Lucky wants more. He invites her out on a dinner date and that’s great too. Lucky begins to protectively worry about Marcy’s work situation. Marcy begins to want Lucky for her own. They realize the attraction is deeper than physical and that they might be able to share a lot more.
So much for no-strings attached… Now what?
Well there’s some trouble… These two sympathetic souls have some issues to solve and an attraction that won’t allow them to walk away. Fortunately, Lucky is a very selfless person with one hell of a surprise up his sleeve.
I truly enjoyed the adventure and sexual surprises in “Gettin' Lucky”. This is pure wish fulfillment and fantasy in the flesh. The story moves fast but there is a lot of lovely detail that made me feel as if I was along for the date or in Marcy’s apartment.
I’ll go out on a limb and say “Gettin' Lucky” is my favorite book by Amber Skyze to date. If you haven’t yet read an Amber Skyze book “Gettin' Lucky” is a great place to start.  I highly recommend it. (And I predict a sequel! lol)
(Amber Skyze “Gettin' Lucky”, Ellora’s Cave Sophisticate Line available now!)
On a different note, my book trailer for “Beautiful Stranger” is up at “You Gotta Read Videos”. There are lots of great videos in November’s contest, so if you can please drop by and vote for entry #2. A vote and a view would be much appreciated. Thank you.
I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving!
XXOO Kat

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mac Liam Releases Next Week!

I cannot believe this day is just around the corner! Book 2 of my Emerald Isle Trilogy is due to release next week and honestly, it still feels like a dream. I was so excited when the first book, Ræliksen, was re-released by Turquoise Morning Press and to hold that beautiful book in my hands was the best. But now, with Mac Liam so close to its release date, I am finding it hard to describe this feeling.

For one, I can now say I have written two books. Don't get me wrong, writing one book is a huge feat, but to know I have finished another is quite a revelation. I have wanted this dream for so long and having two books under my belt really makes it seem more like a career than a fly-by-night hobby.

And so to celebrate this grand moment, I'd love to share an excerpt with you.

Mac Liam: Emerald Isle Trilogy Book 2
By Renee Vincent
Turquoise Morning Press
December 2010

Excerpt:
“What are you afraid of?” Breandán asked.

Mara’s gaze jumped to his, but she didn’t answer him in the beginning. Instead, she pressed the wadded up linen upon his brow, trying to stop the bleeding with pressure. She held it for some time before she found words to speak. “I was afraid Tait was going to kill you.”

He smiled, appreciative of her concern, but she didn’t understand him. He reached up and covered her hand, helping her to press the linens harder against his brow. “Nay, I mean what are you afraid of now?”

Mara swallowed and glanced at Breandán’s hand clutching hers, her mind caught in a whirlwind. The whole time Tait and Breandán were fighting, she couldn’t help but feel terrified, especially after seeing so much blood pour from Breandán’s eye. She knew neither wouldn’t walk out of the skirmish without some sort of injury—cuts and black eyes, or even a bruised pride. But she had no idea she would feel so much more when it came to Breandán’s safety.

Once she had seen the abuse Breandán had received from Tait’s first blow, and the struggle he endured from then on, she was beside herself with worry, especially after seeing the look in Tait’s eyes when he drew his dagger. She was utterly panic-stricken knowing Tait had every intent to kill Breandán on the spot. Had it not been for Tait lying horrifyingly lifeless on her longhouse floor, she probably would have run up and embraced Breandán right there.

Crazy as that may sound, she had this nonsensical urge to kiss him now that they were all alone.

She closed her eyes, trying to sort out her scrambling emotions.

“You can tell me,” Breandán encouraged her softly, his other hand now upon her face.

She opened her eyes as she felt his tender touch across her cheekbone, his words echoing in her ears while, together, they still held pressure to his brow.

“I am afraid…” she began, trying to ignore the warmth flushing her skin from the neck up. But even as she listened to the words she wanted to say next in her head, they still didn’t sound right. She tried another way. “I think I want to kiss you. I think. But…I am afraid. I am afraid when I close my eyes, all I will see is Dægan. And ‘tis not fair to you. I want not to hurt you.”

Breandán stroked a piece of loose hair from her face and smiled, which almost seemed to represent astonishment for her wanting to kiss him rather than happiness. She watched that thought tumble around in his head for a bit, not knowing what he’d do or say next. She assumed he’d retract both hands from her and slip back into the reserved gentleman he had always been. But strangely, he didn’t seem interested in letting her go, still holding tight to the hand upon his wound.

“Is that all you are afraid of?” he asked, his eyes deeply gazing into hers.

Her words failed her now. Flat out failed her as his stare captured her. He was such a beautiful man with his dark hair and light eyes, his touch rippling through her body, and she nearly fell limp. She could only nod her head.

Breandán released his left hand from hers and brought it up to meet the other, though she remained holding the linens above his eye. Tenderly, he clasped her face, his thumbs caressing her ever so lightly. “If you fear you will only see Dægan when you close your eyes, then leave them open.”

Her heart stopped.

Her breath caught as he drew near, his eyes falling on her lips. He was going to kiss her. He was actually going to kiss her and she hadn’t the will to stop him. At that moment, she was like bread dough in his hands and nothing else mattered but what he was about to do.

She wanted this.

Wanted it more now that he was pulling her closer.

She felt chills crawl up her spine and a heat pooling at her core, barely remembering how those sensations had once felt, but liked their sudden return all the same. She only wished she knew what she was doing, wished she had a better hold of her emotions.

He was so close to pressing his lips to hers that she could smell his masculine scent as clear as if she were burying her nose in his tunic. And she could feel his breath scarcely caressing her top lip as he lingered. Her eyelids automatically closed with anticipation, but his voice stopped her.

“Open your eyes, Mara,” he said in a gentle, heated whisper. “Open them and know ‘tis I who is kissing you.”

She dragged them open, his voice like a subtle touch, soothing and erotic. His aqua eyes were mesmerizing as they held hers all the way to the moment their lips finally met. Fire burned through her as the heat of his soft lips branded her own. All she could see and feel was him. All she could think about was how wonderful his mouth felt on hers, how sensuous his kiss was.

“Breathe, a thaisce.”

Until he spoke, she hadn’t realized she was holding her breath and was doubly amazed that he was perceptive enough to notice.

He slowly released her face. “Tell me,” he whispered, his eyes sultry and beguiling. “Who did you see when I kissed you?”

A smile graced her lips. “Only you.”

He smiled with her and returned his grasp upon her hand clutching the blood-stained linen at his brow. “I know you love Dægan. And I know he still occupies a significant place in your heart. But I am not here to replace him. Nor will I ever try. I only wish to fill what is left of your heart, if you will let me.”

His heartfelt touch soothed her, his kind words flowed like a cool river through her heated soul. But she was still unconvinced she needed this. Needed him.

Oh, she wanted him. Her body was telling her that. But needing him was quite a different matter. She was a mother now whose main concern was her son, Lochlann. And what would he think of this? What would he think about Breandán being in her life?

The last thing she wanted was to make Lochlann feel second best, or make him think she didn’t love his own father anymore. Lochlann only had the mind of a six-year-old and those thoughts would no doubt run through his brain. And having been without a father for so long, he may not take well to someone else in his life.

But then her thoughts ran toward this morning, when Breandán was carrying her son on his shoulders and the sound of his laughter filling her ears. Lochlann had warmed up to Breandán and he seemed very happy with his companionship. So much so that she began to think he’d might be fond of having Breandán as a father.

A father?


So? What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

And don't forget, next week I will be having a huge blog tour with interviews, guest character appearances, and lots of giveaways for the promotion of Mac Liam! Hope to see you there!

Renee Vincent's Website

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Interview of Author Maggie Berkley

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Maggie Berkley.
Latest Book: Enter the Night: Book One of the Morgan Crowe trilogy
Buy Link: http://redrosepublishing.com/books/index.php?manufacturers_id=97&osCsid=76901e73da628de76a17bff43af4c0fa

BIO:
A long time fan of dark fantasy with a touch of romance and horror, Maggie Berkley grew up in a world all her own, one she created as a teenager during her long times of parental lock down due to a rebellious nature. As a youth she created stories and plays for her friends to act out for anyone willing (and at times unwilling) to watch and as time went by drew upon her love of fantasy and horror to write longer stories and fan fiction. Due to the encouragement of friends and family she decided rather than keep her stories for herself she would publish and in doing so created different worlds to feature her vast imagination.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Morgan of course because she’s the type who would speak their mind no matter what the consequence and do whatever she wanted. Too many times I’ve been in a line or been in a movie theatre with rude and inconsiderate people and just wished I could walk over to them and ‘bam’ punch them or something. Haven’t you? Plus I feel close to her because mentally, I’ve experienced all her pain, anger and hopes. It’s hard when you write, start dreaming about or get insomnia because of your characters and not feel a bond to them.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroine? Tell us about your heroine.
A: Moon Goodblood. She’s not a well known actress but I think she would be great for Morgan because she has that strength and vulnerability I picture my heroine having. To be vulnerable doesn’t mean you have to cry and need some guy to ride in to save the day. It could mean that you have something inside yourself you keep hidden, sheltered and guarded.

Morgan Crowe, the main character of my novels, is a tough as nails assassin in the Sidhe Court and because of her horrendous temper and various other activities, finds herself banished to the lands of the humans. She’s not always nice, says what she wants and tends to grate upon the sensibilities of others but she has her own secrets and personal demons she fights against (and at times denies). She had always viewed love as a weakness and because of past hurts, takes a cynical view on relationships. Throughout the course of the trilogy she learns about what love really is, gains compassion for others and finally faces her past and her destiny.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: Each has their own appearance and personality. I’ve had friends show me pictures and say ‘I think this is so in so’ and I just shake my head. You get a definite knowledge of what they look like and it’s not just anything. The characters become so real to me as I write them. I feel their anger and pain, their hopes and desires. Sometimes their actions (or reactions) can tork me off and I’ll be ‘What on earth are you doing?’ but I have to be true to their story. After all, they are the ones telling it to me.

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: I think in making you feel something about the characters, whether its love or hate. Just like an actor has to convey their characters in a way for us (the audience)to have some form of emotion, writers have that same need and responsibility. There’s been books I’ve read that the character’s literally make me want to pull my hair out and others that brought me so deep into their thoughts or emotions I feel like I’m part of the story myself.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: Sweet Medicine’s Prophecy: Sun Dancer’s Passion. I can’t remember the author for I read the book waaay long ago (I’m dating myself here). It was the first romance book I had ever read about and the heroine was a Cheyenne Indian maiden. It was part of a series but my heart always felt close to Sun Dancer. It was so beautifully written adding in not just a romance but a real back drop about the Cheyenne people too. What was great about this story is the reality the author brought to the romance. Life is not always full of butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes there’s heartbreak and tragedy too.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: Hobbies? What are those? LOL. For so long now I haven’t had time to do much of anything because I’ve been writing so much, but when I do find a way to squeak in something its usually reading. I love to read (I’m currently reading Brent Weeks ‘the Way of the Shadow’). My pride and joy is my library (I have over a thousand novels on my selves…much to my husband’s chagrin).

I also enjoy making jewelry (which I give away as gifts to family and friends), homemade soaps, remodeling my house and (if the urge strikes) sketch. When I was younger I used to want to be an author/artist and draw my own covers. Well, one part of the dream has taken place.

Tell us where we can find you!
http://maggieberkley.viviti.com
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BLURB:
Be careful of who you trust.” Words of warning, something Morgan Crowe tended to ignore.

Born Morriganna nic Thulath over thousands of years ago in the ShadowedLands of the Immortal Sidhe, she was the leader of the Mor’sin’dar King’s Battle Crows. Named the Morrigu, she was deadly, precise and vengeful.

Favored by her King, Morgan lived an unrestrained life until her temper forced him to remove her from the Courts. For years she lived among the humans, keeping an eye out on things Fae and waiting until the time her beloved King resends his decision and welcomes her back with open arms. But things have changed within the Sidhe lands, deaths occurred and old rumors abound. Unknowingly Morgan has become the object of revenge of a hateful Queen and a sadistic enemy from her past.

Now enters a Were, shape changers with the natural ability to take animal form and with his appearance comes temptation and love. But is he all that he seems? And is she willing to defy her society to find out if he is. For Morgan, her world tumbles around in a whirlwind until all hell breaks loose.

EXCERPT:

"Morriganna."

Cracking her eyes open to slits, Morgan Crowe kept her breathing regular and soft as she glanced around the room, searching for what disturbed her sleep. The soft thrum of her fish tank on the far wall and the light purring of her little gray kitten, Sonji, reached her ears, but nothing else touched her sharp senses. All was quiet and peaceful.

After waiting a few moments longer, she sat up while slipping a gun out from under the pillow, turning her head slowly left, then right as her eyes scanned the dark room, looking for anything out of place. Someone called her name; she knew that, but no sign of anyone or anything stood out. Other than the dim light emulating from the fish tank, the room stood in total darkness, clouded in a blanket of night. Her eyes flickered over to the window high on the wall and the blackness beyond as she strained to find some noise that awoken her.

At a slight movement by her side, Morgan glanced down to see that Sonji had opened tired yellow eyes and yawned, watching her mistress warily. Slowly the kitten reached out one tiny paw and touched Morgan’s thigh as if reassuring her that everything was all right, that it was too early to get up and she needed to go back to sleep.

“Morriganna.”

Morgan’s body stiffened at the hollow voice that sounded both near and far. Cocking her head to listen harder she shivered as a cool breeze brushed across her bare skin, causing her nipples to harden and the muscles in her abdomen to clench. The hair on her arms stood on end as wintry chills from the lowering temperature ran down her spine.

Gradually a presence filled the room, causing the kitten next to her to arch her back up in fear until the soft gray fur stood on end. Baring her teeth, Sonji hissed at what she sensed but could not see, then with hast raced under the bed to hide, abandoning the woman to fend for herself. The mirrors and windows in the room frosted, starting first at the corners and then spread toward the center.

Morgan shivered at the growing coldness, pulling her bedspread over her nude body to cut out the chill as her breath left her mouth in small puffs of wraithlike clouds. With a sigh, she settled back to wait, watching the fog of her breath hang on the air as she replaced her gun under the pillow.

Morgan recognized the voice that woken her from her sleep, one she hadn’t heard in years but felt a slight bit of relief to know she was not forgotten. What a crappy time to be calling, she thought, glancing at the clock face on her nightstand. Three-thirty in the morning. It was too freaking early for this. As seconds clicked by, then minutes, irritation grew, driving out any want for communication of one of her kind. He sure seemed to be taking his own sweet time and she really didn’t have much patience for it. Not to mention that scrying by water made the room an icebox.

With a growl, Morgan tugged her blankets up over her shoulders, swearing under her breath as she tried to stave off the chill. Usually the cold didn’t bother her as her body adapted to any of the elements, but this was no natural frost forming. After several long minutes of silence, the caller decided to speak. About time, she snarled, trying to keep her teeth from clacking together.

“Good evening, Morriganna, I hath need to speak with thee.”

“Well hurry up and do it quick. You’re freezing my ass off.”

The feeling of power pulsating filled the room, giving it an illusion of walls coming alive and breathing as a brief moment of vertigo swept over the seated woman. Breathing deeply to calm her senses, she leaned her head back against the wall while drawing her knees up to her chest and closed her eyes. It was always disorientating talking to someone who wasn’t there, but considering this was the first “call” from any of the Mor’sin’dar since her banishment, who was she to complain? It was nice hearing a voice from her past.

Until the day her High King lifted her banishment from the Mor’sin’dar Court, she would have to make due with the company of humans. Though inventive and chatty, often irritating and somewhat amusing, Morgan desperately missed the company of her own people. Feeling a soft breeze caress her cheek and neck, she opened her eyes, drawing her attention back to what was at hand for the moment.

“Morriganna, thou needth to be careful. I hath warn thee, though I cannot reveal more except that trouble stir in the Courts.”

The rich warm voice of Eryn Sye, an informant of hers from her more active days, filled the room. He was always reliable for information, if not more, but it had been years since they last spoke. Blinking away the last remnants of sleep from her mind, Morgan straightened up. “What are you talking about, Eryn? You’re the first one to contact me in ages.”

“Something is happening in the ShadowedLands, Lady Death. Rumors are spreading and thy name hath been brought up several times.”

“Brought up? Brought up about what?” Morgan paused, gathering her thoughts as she focused her eyes on the center of her bed. Something was wrong. Eryn was never one to give out information without a price and now he was calling her unsolicited. She suddenly sat up straight, alert to what was not being said. “Why would someone from there be talking about me? About what? Coming back? I can’t until the High King bids me free passage back.” Her breath caught as a flitter of hope filled her chest. “Is that it? Am I going to be allowed back to Court? Is King Silvas lifting the ban?”

The room chilled a little more in response while from under the bed Sonji voiced her displeasure with a pitiful meow. Morgan ignored her cry and concentrated on what her friend was saying. “Talk to me, Eryn. What’s going on?”

“Just be careful, Morrigu, for thee hath enemies thou knowth not. I cannot speak more. I knowth not more except thou needth to be careful. Thou needth to be wary of all thou meet and do not let thy guard down. Things are not right here.”

“But is King Silvas going to lift the ban? Will I be allowed home?” Morgan asked, her heart beating at a quick pace at the thought of seeing her homeland once more. She waited for him to continue, but bit by bit the unearthly cold created by the water spell left the room as Eryn’s presence faded, the scry ending.

“Dammit.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, my next book ‘Behind the Throne: Book Two in the Morgan Crowe trilogy’ was released in September 2010 at Red Rose Publishing!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dream Come True

Have you ever had a story take control of your life and demand to be written? And then have trouble finding others to 'get' what you're trying to convey?

Meet Steve Blumenthal. He did a stupid thing; got caught; and was sent to prison for two years. During his time, he defended the underdog and studied for a degree in Culinary Arts. The problem is, he was a promising NBA star. And his hometown won't forget how he's let them down.

Enter Steve's high school/college sweetheart, Angela Clayborn. She's the one who caught him trying to steal her stereo, and ended up sending him to prison. When Steve is released early, she's unsure of her feelings when she comes face to face with him after that traumatic night.

I think I've already recounted the story about how this came about: A news blurb about prison reform caught my attention and all of a sudden 'Steve' was in my head, saying he was trying to prove he'd learned his lesson, but the town wouldn't believe him.

What came out of my fingers was a story about how circumstances over the course of six days can change the lives of four people. Two other characters, Brad Morrison, who is Angie's current boyfriend, is sent to Colorado on business. As he's wrapping up his trip, he is given the opportunity to explore the town of Estes Park and the adjoining Rocky Mountain National Park. He is soon caught up in the drama of a defiant young woman struggling to keep her brother's woodworking business going, as well as managing her own riding stable.

I've had issues with the story since I wrote it three years ago. I had critique partners tell me 'Steve' was too angry, and they couldn't get past the first chapter. I've tried to tone him down, only to have him snarl in my head 'Don't change me, damn it!'

Finally, a fresh pair of eyes showed me how to contain his anger...and it was accepted for publication. This is my favorite Kenzie story so far; I hope it does well. And I'm excited and thrilled to announce it will be available Nov 23rd or 29th from XOXO Publishing.

Excerpts:
#1 Steve and Angie

“Oh Ange,” he sighed. “I’ve missed your smile. You’re still the most beautiful girl…woman, I know.”

Her smile faded. “This, coming from a man who’s been locked away. Right.

“Why don’t you believe me?” He scooted closer to her and tentatively reached for her hand. “Don’t sell yourself short. Josh told me about the store, and how your jewelry is selling…Honey, I told you years ago you’d go far with it.”

The close contact and the pressure of his hand made her chest constrict. She took another shaky sip of her water and jumped when Steve reached for the glass and set it on the table. He stood up, drawing her upwards. He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles.

“I’m just going to say this,” he said, his voice rough. “I love you. You’re the one thing that kept me going, that kept me from going to ‘Prison Tech 101’. After I got clean, I decided I was going to do whatever it took to serve my time, and get a respectable job, all so I could win you back.” He cleared his throat. “God, Ange…I swear to you…that one dose of speed fucked up my future, but I’m not going to let it fuck up the rest of my life. I’m staying with Josh; I’ve got my driver’s license; tomorrow I’m buying a car. And my parole officer’s trying to help me get a good job, so I can afford my own place.” His voice dropped to a whisper and one hand stole into Angie’s bright tresses. His head angled toward hers and softly touched his lips to hers. When his tongue nudged her lips open and touched hers, she recoiled and dropped her head on his chest.

“Don’t,” she whispered. “I can’t…”

Excerpt 2: Brad and Emma

"Just the person I was looking for,” Gavin called. “This is Frank’s niece, Emma. Em, this is the financial wizard I was telling you about.”

Brad smiled warily at her as he slid onto the stool next to her at the counter. “I wouldn’t call myself a wizard, but I can certainly help with anything needed.”

“You!” Emma’s bloodshot eyes narrowed. “Are you snooping around my family’s business? We’re not about to knuckle under to pressure; I’ll fight with everything I have to hang onto the place.”

“Emma! Relax,” Gavin restrained the girl as she swiveled, preparing to launch herself out of her seat. “What’s gotten into you?”

Brad sat back, hands raised.

“He came into the shop, asking questions,” Emma said, her teeth clenched. “And now he waltzes in here and you expect me to just turn everything over to him? Let me go, Gavin.”

“You’ve jumped to conclusions again, girl.” Gavin easily swung her around and hugged her to his broad chest. “All I said was to let a pair of fresh eyes look at the books and see if he can spot where Ethan’s getting the money.”

“You mean losing it,” came a muffled sob. Emma’s stiff body gradually relaxed against his comforting arms.

Gavin chuckled. “We’re reasonably sure where he’s losing it, honey. If he continues to go to the reservation, then he’s got a gambling problem, and shouldn’t be allowed to run the store.”

“Then who the hell’s going to run it?” Emma demanded, drawing away and fiddling with the straw in her chocolate malt. “I certainly can’t. This is my busy season too.”

Brad cleared his throat as the waitress took his order. Gavin and Emma both had malts; he opted for a root beer float. “If I had access to your computer for a few hours tomorrow, I can certainly try to see any patterns.”

Emma laughed. “Computer? Well, that would make it easy, wouldn’t it? Only problem is, from what I can tell, Ethan’s not entered a damn thing into it in weeks. He keeps it all on an old-fashioned ledger, with the receipts stashed in various boxes. Good luck, Mr. Finance Wizard; you’re going to need more than a few hours.” She took a long drink of her malt as Brad’s float arrived. “When I did the books at tax time, it took me three days to enter all his numbers. I just don’t have time to go down there every day, and lately E’s been such a bear, I haven’t been down there in over three weeks.” She took a sip, turning back to Gavin. “What we need is a full-time bookkeeper. I’ll check my finances and see if we can swing it.” She cast a glance at Brad. “And if the Boy Wonder can work his magic, then we’ll really be able to see the whole picture.”

Go to the XOXO site or keep checking Kenzie's for more details:)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Blog: Imari Jade: "Embracing Change"

A lot of people get left behind because they are afraid to change. The Oxford American Dictionary defines change as to make or become different. I’m not proud to say it but every now and then I fall into that category. Take my cell phone for instance. I’ve had it for about a year and the only things I can do with it is answer it, turn it off and get to Yahoo to check my email. Every now and then I can also manage to take a picture and record a video. The picture I can find easy enough but it’s a mystery to me where all the videos are hiding. The instruction manual that came with it shows that the phone can do all kinds of neat things but I refuse to click on the icons and aps for fear that I might blow the phone up or worse, that I might find something interesting that might take up some of my precious time.

I am a creature of routine. I get up at the same time every morning, take a shower and then turn on my computer and play videos while I dress. This is followed by toasting a bagel and fixing my lunch, and maybe possibly writing something. Somewhere around seven I pack my purse and tote bag, put on my earrings and then watch the news to check out the weather and the traffic while I wait for my ride to arrive.

If the telephone rings or one of the kids ask something usually I’ll stop what I’m doing to answer the phone or answer the kid and then I end up forgetting to do something that I don’t remember until I’m at work. My mind refuses to accept change most of the time and I get angry if I have to deviate for the norm.

Take my full-time job for instance. I’m perfectly happy just sitting at my desk five days a week, eight hours a day answering phones and trouble-shooting computer program or finance problems. But every now and then my supervisor asks me to teach a class or go on a trip. This completely throws me out of my comfort zone. I worry about making a mistake while teaching or dying in a plane crash, you know things I have no control of. My boss thinks this is funny and tells me that she just wants me to get out every now and then and try something new. I usually end up doing it not because I want to but because she won’t get off my back until I do. Forced change is not always a good thing, nor is it always appreciated.

For the longest time most of my heroes were tall, Caucasian males, with dark hair and blue eyes. They had to be rich, drive an expensive sport car and live in a luxurious mansion. They also had to be powerfully built in order to protect the heroine from gangsters, fallen angels, demons and natural disasters. So what’s wrong with that you might ask? Nothing, if you’re a beginner writer, but for us who have been around a little while typical is just plain old boring. So every now and then I get the heck out of my comfort zone and develop a hero that is so far from normal even I wouldn’t mind dating him.

I don’t have a problem with change when it comes to writing. Nor do I have problem shifting genre. I can write a good erotic tale just as well as I can write a tender emotional sweet romance. And I have been known to write a paranormal or horror novel or two. This type of change I embrace with a smile. In Bayou Babe, the heroine Halle is a voodoo priestess whom the entire town whispers about. I could have made her mean and in typical fashion cast a spell over everyone that messed with her but instead I made her a character that just didn’t give a damn about what anyone thought of her.

In Love with a Dark Stranger, which is set in modern day Egypt, I created four of the most un-orthodoxed characters that I could think of and wrote a tale so hot that even I got turned on reading. Not only does it have a hot dark-haired bandit but as a change I threw in a sexy blond-haired prince to just confuse the heck out of the heroine.

On the Warpath teamed a chauvinistic male Secret Service agent with a half African American/half Native American Indian female who could outshoot, out track and basically kick his butt in everything she attempted. Originally she was supposed to be some frail little secretary type but I changed it at the last moment because his attitude was getting on my nerves and I wanted to teach him a lesson.

I got the surprise of my life one night after watching a Korean drama on my computer. I took one look at the leading man and I started to drool. No one told me that there were so many fine looking Asians just walking around on the other side of that ocean. Now this leading man was far from typical. He was drop dead gorgeous with pale skin, dark almond-shaped eyes and a set of lips to die for. My eyes automatically landed on all that thick black hair, his delicately carved face and that slender frame. Instant arousal. Or, as it’s known in the anime world…a double nose bleed. What was it about this man that caught my attention? He wasn’t very muscular, he didn’t drive a fancy car or have a million dollar home. But he probably could protect the heroine because my warp little mind assumes that just because a man is Asian that he knows martial arts, (so not true).

Then I realized that the change wasn’t in my choice of character but in me. Normally I’m turned on by tall, dark-skinned African American males, with deep voices and smoldering brown eyes. Not so much anymore. I often joke with my fans and friends on Facebook about Imari’s bucket list…the ten men I’d like to do before I die. It came as quite a shock to them and me that the top five were all of Asian descent. Just to make it clear number one is Micky Yoochun from the K-Pop group JYJ. He’s twenty-four with the best hair and best set of lips I’ve ever seen. (Cougar moment.)

I don’t spend as much time on YouTube as I used to drooling over these men. That would be just too big a change for me. But I have done a considerable amount of research on Japanese and Korean culture and customs and watched a lot of videos in the last year or so to have a very good understanding of what they’re like, which brings me to the real meaning behind this blog, I had to change my way of thinking in order to write my upcoming book In Deep Kimchi, that is scheduled to be released by Sugar and Spice Press in January 2011.

BLURB:
Erotic romance author Shaundra Morrison thought there was nothing in the world her handsome white boss Harper Kehoe could offer her to get her on a plane bound for Tokyo, including free use of his body for the duration of the trip. Becoming a member of the mile high club intrigued her but not enough to conquer her fear of flying.

Harper Kehoe had money, power and everything his heart desired except for the affections of his best selling author’s Shaundra Morrison. He jumped at the idea of forming a partnership with Japanese mogul Goro Niigata because to Harper business came before pleasure. And what a perfect way to have both than by inviting Shaundra and three of his other successful authors to accompany him to Tokyo to promote the opening of NIKII Publishing. So what if it meant having one of his doctor friends prescribe Shaundra a sedative to knock her sexy ass out for twenty five hours.

Shaundra wasn’t too keen on the idea of being drugged just to fly halfway around the world to help Harper promote his new business, until her senior editor showed Shaundra a picture of Aomori, a group of four J-Pop singers who Mr. Niigata managed and planned to use to help promote his new business. All it took was one look at those beautiful faces, sexy young bodies and all that long black hair to get her to reconsider. The worst thing that could happen to her would be she’d be turned into a junkie before she returned to New York, she mused looking down at the photograph again. The dampening of the panties between her legs assured her that it would be well worth it.

Whew, had I not changed my way of thinking there’s no way I could have come up with that premise or that story. So you see some change is good.

New Orleans born Imari Jade writes for Sugar and Spice Press, Eternal Press, Carnal Publishing, Siren Publishing, Total E-Bound, Phaze, MoonGypy Press, Midnight Showcase Fiction, Wild Horse Press and Mélange.

http://www.imarijade.com http://www.facebook.com/people/Imari-Jade/100000077341527 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Imari-Jades-Fan-Page/110285572341938 http://www.myspace.com/imarijade
http://imarijade.blogspot.com

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