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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writer's shoes


I'm taking a break from polishing a story for a holiday anthology - love writing about Christmas in June! - to work on my second blog for this group. Doing this makes me feel like I'm talking to someone!

As the owner of a secondhand bookshop I live amongst millions of words everyday. When I open the shop each morning I greet the shelves with Good Morning Everyone, and ask how they are feeling today. (No replies to that one yet, but how exciting if there were!) Even without any audible, ghostly reply, my books speak to me.

Since writing my own books I've become more aware of the individual voices of a writer. How many of you have admired the construction of a phrase, wondered how the writer decided on those particular words and even said, oh, I would love to have written that! When some wording makes me pause, I read it aloud to get the feel of it on my tongue, hear the mood, soak up the flavor of each word and study how it's pieced together.

In 2004 I took an online writing class and one of the assignments was to write in a favorite author's voice. If you want to write like a certain author, said the instructor, then write like that author. Open the book, pick a passage and start typing. It was an excellent lesson in investigating and interpreting what makes up the individual writer's voice.

I worked the assignment with several of my favorite authors and have since repeated it many times. Anita Shreve, to study eloquence and how a setting can be a character which I work to utilize in all my books but especially my historical romances, Almost Silenced being the latest; Susan Johnson to heat up a sex scene with delicious naughtiness, something I tried out in my first erotic romance, Make Mine A Double, as yet unpublished; Robert Crais showed me wit and how sentences don't have to go on forever to make them work, tools I used in Charades, the first of a series to be published this fall; Robin Schone and Madeline Hunter's sparse use of voice tags which lessens distraction from the meat of the story. That lesson I've made a conscious effort to use in everything I write. The voice lessons I learned from Hemingway, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Stegner, Whitney and many others who I consider the classic writers, are innumerable and invaluable.

What better way is there to study our craft than to walk in our favorite writer's "shoes"? What I discovered is that the words they've written don't feel anything like those that come out of me. I can put on the shoes but they feel like I'm wearing them on the wrong foot, or have two shoes from mismatched pairs. As much as I admire their way with words and their stories, they don't fit me, and mine would unquestionably not fit them.

Whose writing do you admire? Who has made you sigh over the perfect word choices that you would never have thought of? Have these writers made an impact on your own style of writing?

I've walked in the shoes of my favorite writers and have enjoyed the stroll but am always relieved when I put on my own pair, the really broken in pair. They're the perfect fit, for me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Read Fiction?

Why read fiction . . . it has no redeeming value. It has no basis of truth. So why read something that never happened?

Fiction is considered imaginary and made-up whereas non-fiction is supposed to be factual and indisputable. I am a writer of fiction. The ideas for my stories come from real life, so that element has to be realistic.

My story, ADDICTION, is made of truth and fiction. The heroine is being stalked by a serial killer, she has low self-esteem and is an alcoholic. All of these things are real, they happen. The difference is in how they play out, but even in real life the heroine can survive the killer and gain self-esteem. She would always be an alcoholic but she can conquer the disease by staying away from those beverages.

The hero in ADDICTION is handsome, Irish and a FBI agent. He understands women because he has younger sisters, and he wants to protect the heroine. Do you think this is stretching the truth? Maybe, but haven't you known men like this? I have.

Many people like to escape real life and others want to see real life turn out differently from the one they live. It's all the matter of the choices we make and this holds true of the hero and heroine in my story.

I'm going to throw down the gauntlet here and suggest non-fiction readers pick up a fiction book to read and vice versa. I have read both and enjoyed both.

I am posting a blurb and a excerpt from ADDICTION below.

Blurb for Addiction

Two men are after the same woman but for very different reasons.

Dark-haired beauty, Jolene Dubois has a serious problem, and it's not just battling alcoholism. Late at night, she receives whispered calls. "Jolene, I want you. I'm coming for you." Shivers climb up her spine and ice flowed in her veins. What does he want? Who is it? She must figure it out before she trusts the wrong person.

Jake Farrell, the handsome rogue is an operator with women, but is he hiding something dark and sinister under his cheery facade. The detective, Andy Martin, who investigated her father's murder, continues to ask her out. Les Voodré, an alcoholic she met at AA follows her everywhere, and Ron Keisler, her AA sponsor is always there when she needs him. Could her caller be one of these men?

To further complicate her life, she fights a host of addictions, alcoholism, smoking, gambling and sex. Jolene is determined to beat the alcohol and to stay out of the clutches of the fiend who phones her.


Ring. Ring.
Her heart pounded frantically. Jolene pushed her covers off and jumped out of bed, her gaze on the clock. Four o’clock in the morning. She had a caller. Horror pulsed through her veins, and then she grabbed her purse.
It can’t possibly be him.
Come on, Jolene, answer it.
Her hands shaking, she dug in her purse pulling out the cell phone and flipping it open. “Hello.” He’d blocked the caller ID.
“What took you so long, Jolene?” a muffled voice asked.
She tightened her grip on the cell. No. How did he get this number?
“Come on, speak to me. I know you’re there,” the whisperer said in a low raspy voice. “Don’t make me come in there.”
“What do you want?” He knew where she was. How could he? “How did you get this number?” she demanded, rubbing her palm on the pale floral bed cover. Was he outside? She wanted to hang up, but that never worked. He’d call all night then.
“Jolene, I’m disappointed in you. You were around too many people tonight for me to get to you.”
She rose and walked to the window, feeling cold in spite of her olive green cotton pajamas. If only he’d talk in a normal tone, she might recognize the voice. “Why are you harassing me?” she asked, sliding the light green curtain aside so she could peek out. There weren’t any new cars parked on the street, but he could’ve parked anywhere and be outside the house.
“I thought we were friends. Don’t you like it when I tell you all the things I’m going to do to you?” He cackled loud and long.
His maniacal laughter sent shivers up her body, and she wrapped her free arm around her waist. Did she know this person? Surely, she didn’t know anyone like this except for Les. That guy was just downright crazy. Quiet.
She held her breath and listened. Was he still there? No sound. He must’ve hung up. Softly, she started to close her cell.
“Don’t hang up on me, Jolene.”
Startled, the phone slipped out of her grasp, but she scrambled to catch it. The darn thing hit the thick beige carpeted floor. Down on her knees, she grabbed the cell, putting it to her ear.
“Hello.” The buzzing told her she’d lost him. What would he do now? Call her back. She stared at the phone, her shoulders hunched, and the tendons in her neck tightening.
After a few moments, she rose, went to her bed and climbed in pulling the covers around her. She knew she wouldn’t sleep, but she didn’t want to wake her sister or call her brother to talk to him. This was her problem to take care of. She would call the police later this morning and make a report.
Ring. Ring.
Jolene grabbed the phone; she knew it was him again. She’d made him mad by hanging up on him even though it had happened accidentally. Without saying anything, she listened, hoping it wasn’t him.
“Don’t ever do that again.”
The loud click told her he was finally gone. Her hand shook so badly she could hardly reach the oak end table to lay her cell on it. She’d never sleep the rest of the night. She had to figure out who this person could be.
The only person she knew this crazy was Les, but she didn’t know how he could’ve gotten her numbers. She’d never met him before tonight.
Pulling the covers over her head, she burrowed deeper into the bed. She’d always been afraid of the boogie man, and now he was really after her.

ADDICTION will be in print July 1st at Eirelander Publishing,

To learn more about me you may visit these sites:

I'll be waiting eagerly to hear why you read or don't read fiction.

See you next month.

Sandra K. Marshall, Author of Addiction

Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview of Author Nancy Lennea

Today it's my pleasure to interview romance author Nancy Lennea.


Buy Link:
Video Link:

BIO: Nancy lives the dream. After growing up in Huntington New York and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy and her husband moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Celtic Heart Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic Paranormal Romance Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She also writes paranormal romance as Nancy Lee Badger.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: I stared at the e-mail from Red Rose Publishing in disbelief, then scratched my head. What book? It was August 29th and I had sent them the manuscript for consideration in October 2008! SECRET LOVE MATCH is my 3rd completed manuscript and I was already working on number 6.I filled out the contract, mailed it away two days later, and took my son and husband out for dinner!

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: The beginning is easiest because I have all these stories running around my head screaming to get out. Then I have to stop and fill out a story board so I know where my characters are headed.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: The end. Then the revisions start. Every time I read my stories, I find another way to describe something, or a better way for the story to flow. I finally have to say STOP. Then, an editor will come along and change it all.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: I love Taylor Adams. He just turned forty and has money, but nothing else to show for it; no wife, no family, no career. His five years of fame on a TV Space Western ended 15 years earlier. He wants to be in film. Will anyone take him seriously? Becka appears and everything changes. He changes, for the better. I like how he goes from stuck-up to her knight in shining armor.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your hero? Tell us about your hero.
A: I had a picture of Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (the original, not the remake)played by Dirk Benedict. That same color hair and build mixed with Star Trek’s mature Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner. If I had to pick someone today to play him, I think I could fall in love with Hugh Jackman, as long as they gave him some golden locks. He’s 42 and that’s the age group I threw Taylor into.

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Chats, or Twitter. Which do you like best and why?
A: I like the instant messaging of Facebook, but I strive to make the best use of blogs, my own included. A blog article is ‘out there’ for a longer time and, as long as you copy its link, you can pop in and read it over and over. I have written articles under my Nancy Lee Badger moniker at where historical facts, mythology, castles, ale making all combine to bring history to life.

Tell us where to find you:
publisher’s page:

Rebecca Delacourt has played and taught tennis for the last three years. At twenty-one, she knows what she wants. Without help from her wealthy parents, she buys a condo in Glen Cove, NY and plans to be on the Olympic Tennis team. She has no time for men, marriage, or children. Her mother gave up her acting career when she became pregnant with older sister, Laney, whose illegitimate son is mute due to recent emotional trauma. Rebecca still manages to squeak out some time for her charity work for breast cancer research in Baltimore every year.

Taylor, a former TV actor, notices Becka. She knows him—she’s dreamed of his TV persona for years. They meet at her parent’s country club. He thinks he’s found gold in the athletic blond. After beating him at tennis he meets her parents. Too bad he knows them—a former co-star, and the man helping get him auditions.

Her sister moves in—thwarting any privacy. She’s hiding out and is attacked. Taylor finds himself falling for Becka. Will he change his arrogant ways, save her nephew from kidnappers, and realize she’s the one? Becka wonders if dreams can still be reached with someone beside her. Will they reach their dreams together?

“I can’t go home with you. Not today,” She explained as she hung up her cell phone and stared down at her feet. Taylor’s dream of a perfect ending to a wonderful afternoon, ruined. Outside the museum, he flagged a cab. Only minutes ago he’d asked her to accompany him to his hotel. Before she could answer, her phone rang. He knew in his gut she’d been on the verge of accepting.

I’m really sorry,” she said, shaking her head.

A wave of disappointment crushed him the moment the words left her mouth…her luscious, plump, sweet mouth. “Why? It’s early yet, and we haven’t had dinner. I was going to surprise you with—”

She interrupted his plea with a look of pain. Etched on her face, accompanied by a long sinful sigh, her reaction did nothing to make him feel hopeful.

“The reason is my sister, Laney. As you might have guessed, she came home with me from Baltimore. I’m sorry, but she had nowhere else to go and she finally convinced me she’s in trouble.”

He yanked off his glasses.

She flinched.

A look of disbelief must have flashed across his face.

"Please believe me. I think her problem is serious. She has troubles concerning some guy and his friends. She insists they’re looking for her. She won’t let me involve the police so the best I can do is give her a roof over her head for awhile.”

“Can’t she stay with your parents? They’re her parents, too.” His temper flared. He clenched his fists, nearly crushing his glasses.

“Please try to understand, Taylor—”

“I don’t understand!”

“Laney and our parents are estranged. It’s complicated. I need time to sort out her problem before I send her on her way, and I will. She just called me crying hysterically, wanting to talk…” Pausing, she cupped his unshaven cheek, “I want to see you again, soon.”

Even now, he sensed she wanted to neglect her sister’s needs and succumb to her own pleasure. She intoxicated him with her touch, but he knew guilt would tarnish their night together.

“I promise to call you as soon as I can,” she whispered.

A cab slid to a stop at the curb. Taylor grumbled as he kicked a small stone off the sidewalk. Shoving both hands into the back pockets of his jeans, he pretended not to care. As Taylor watched her open the cab door, several screams broke the silence.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Secret Love Match is a full-length contemporary romance and is my debut novel, available as an e-book. If anyone is interested in the paranormal, visit my other website and my blog for the scoop on other releases.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Latest in Long Swords, Hot Heroes, & Warrior Women

Cheers everyone, I’m passing (virtual) heather mead around, please grab a goblet and drink down the heady brew as I tell you about my latest release Druid Bride. It is my ninth Celtic/Romance as I love history and have an unquenchable passion for all things Celtic. I believe it began when I saw the Disney movie, The Sword and the Stone at age five. Speaking of movies, Druid Bride is set against the same historical backdrop of 1st century AD Scotland as the new movie, Centurion.

It’s a mystical, romantic tale, full of adventure that will sweep you away to the period in history when the Boudica revolt failed in England and the Pictish tribes of northern Scotland took up the battle against the Romans. It is a time of long swords, hot heroes and warrior women. Brude is my hot hero, a Pictish warrior, with shoulder length hair thick from lime wash and spiked like a hedgehog’s, with strands ranging from dark brown to a golden hue. Danger shines in his alluring grin and the gleam of his brown eyes. He is tall, young, muscular, well built and his body is covered with blue, Pictish woad tattoos of Celtic beast and curving symbols. My warrior woman, Tanwen, has long, straight, copper toned red hair and large green eyes, she wears the white gold speckled robe of a druidess. They are physically attracted to each other and they respect each other. But they do not trust each other.

I think the best way to describe a historical time period or events is to just bring the reader into it. Here are some tidbit excerpts and character quotes to take you to the wild world of the Pictish tribes in first century AD, Scotland.

The tattoos covering his arms and legs were similar to the sacred images engraved on the long stones which stood all over Caledonia. The largest swirl began small and curved into a larger loop, with a little one for wings, and long, thin lines as legs. So his patron goddess was Corra—the crane goddess—which revealed his closeness to the otherworld and his gift of prophecy

2nd Excerpt:
Together they gulped down the golden mead. Never, not once, did they tear their eyes away from each other.
“As the mead flows through you, let the spirit fill you.”Tanwen walked over to the cauldron and dipped her hand in the dark, gooey, blue dye.
Her finger slinked down his face, streaking both cheeks blue. The woad was warm, her touch hotter. His tinted checks burned. After dipping her hands into the dye again, her ring-bedecked fingers danced over the muscles rippling down his arms, tracing each of his tattoos, following the lines as she painted them blue. He quivered. The gods shielded him through these symbols. The first was a wolf, with an open mouth drawn as a curve. Then the boar with tusk made from a circle, with a line drawn though it and two knots on each end. His flesh tingled as she painted the lines of a swirling snake.

3rd Excerpt:
There she was, standing on the hill, enveloped in a flowing, speckled, white cloak held with a gold brooch, and wearing gold clasps on her ears and a thick gold torque around her neck. Brude watched as the villagers took the nine sacred woods and built the great fire. He felt like he didn’t know her. He didn’t think of her as Tanwen while watching her there, but simply as a druidess, a human personification of a war goddess. A woman yes, but one who spoke for the gods, and therefore had more power than the mightiest chief of the land. Not the woman he longed for when the Smertae captured her in that botched cattle raid. Not the fiery lady he’d slept with, who filled his dreams.

And I’ll leave you with these two character quotes from Druid Bride:

“Oh woman, loved by me, give me your heart, your soul, and your body. I swear by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand to hand.” Brude

“I have drunk mistletoe afore, stronger than what is given to the sick. I use it to aid travel through the oak door.”Tanwen

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Popping in for a quick hello!

Man am I ever tired! Seems as if I spend my life trying to catch up...yesterday I noticed something that looked like two pigs fighting in a sack and realized I was seeing the back of myself! Talk about being far behind...

Seriously I dont know if/when my life will resume normalcy.

Scratch that I have an idea of when--IF it happens. As most everyone knows, I spend a majority of my life living with my grandmother being her primary care provider. She's suffered massive personality shifts, forgetfulness and some signs of demensia. (I'm so tired I don't even think I spelled that correctly!) We've had her in and out of doctor offices trying to pin down the problem.

Thursday we took her to a neurologist and for the first time since January we have an answer! She was on several combinations of medications and the doctor told us that two of the medications cancelled each other out and caused her brain to malfunction! He advised us to wean her off the one and keep her on the other. BUT while she is being weaned off the medicaitons she is still going to need care 24/7.

The good news is this is only for another 4 or 5 weeks! By the time I leave for my vacation at the end of July, she should be back to normal.


Now if I can just hang on for the next few weeks, I will be able to get back to my real life! I'm so happy she's getting better, honest and truly thankful she is improving--unfortunately she doesnt remember the doctor telling her she needs full time care so she's becoming tempermental and irritating. God give us strength!

I can't WAIT to get my life back! I'll be abole to focus entirely on my writing, my edits, submissions and etc...

I also want to thank everyone who has sent me emails offering encouraging words, and prayers on my families behalf. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Donica Covey fans ROCK! The best thing is--it's not just my readers who have poured out their support. The entire romance community--in as many as know me anyway--have all been so wonderfully suppoprtive and generous. I don't know how I'd have survived without my wonderful friends who have listened to me vent, encouraged me when I was ready to give up, scream or loose my own marbles.

You're ALL wonderful and I'm so grateful to each of you!

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, (hehehe) I'm excited to announce that I received edits on my next release, Hunting Mickey! This title(from Champagne Books), due to release in October, is the final installment of my Gateway Guardians series. Edits are taking me longer than usual due to the fact I can't focus on the work 100% of my day but at least they're getting done!

My most recent release, Cry Wolf (from Samhain Publishing) spent the first two weeks of its release on the Top Ten list at My Bookstore and More! Talk about boosting my days! Each day that I was finally able to pop on and check my emails I found a message alerting me to it's sales status. Beleive me there were days when I was so deeply discouraged I didnt know if I'd ever be able to smile again--then I'd find this message alert and the sun came out from behind the clouds! Thanks to EVERYONE who picked up a copy! As soon as I get my life back to normal I'm planning on a couple of contests to celebrate both Cry Wolf and Hunting Mickey. I hope you'll stick around and check in at for information!

I've got to run. I'm home for exactly 48 hours and I have a great deal of housework and things to catch up on. I'll see y'all again soon!

Huggles and have a WONDERFUL weekend!
Donica Covey

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interview of Author Paty Jager

Today I'm interviewing Western Romance Author and 2008 Eppie Best Contemporary Award winning author, Paty Jager.

Latest Book: “Doctor in Petticoats
Buy Link:
Video Link:

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager has brought her husband of thirty-one years to maturity, along with four children. Currently the empty nesters farm 130 acres. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Paty has been a member of RWA for twelve years and has taught workshops at chapter meetings, conferences, and online.
She has four historical western romance novels available through The Wild Rose Press and one contemporary western, which won the 2008 Best Contemporary Romance EPPIE. She has two new releases this year, one a paranormal historical, “Spirit of the Mountain”, set among the Nez Perce and the fourth book in the Halsey brother's series, “Doctor in Petticoats”, she is also excited about her recently contracted contemporary western, “Bridled Heart”. To learn more about Paty drop by her website:

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: This is hard to answer. I like Clay because he learns to live with his disability and never does he let it rule his life.I like Rachel because she stands up for what she believes in even if it takes her longer to stand up for herself.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: No, they are all distinctly different. I tend to find photos that look kind of like my hero and heroine to stare at when I need to get deeper into their thoughts. It's kind of like looking at someone and trying to figure out what they're thinking.

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: I've noticed when the words are hard coming and the story feels like it's beating me up, I tend to go for anything I can get my hands on that is small and many. LOL When the writing is good; I forget to eat at all.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I'm rarely not writing. But I enjoy riding my horse and visiting with my friends and family.

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: I believe it is characterization. Most reviews say how strong and believable my characters are.

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: Write a love scene and then asked the handsome man to help me act it out.

Tell us where to find you:
publisher’s page:

After a life-altering accident and a failed relationship, Dr. Rachel Tarkiel gave up on love and settled for a life healing others as the physician at a School for the Blind.She's happy in her vocation--until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want more.

Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his circumstances and his limitations. Intriguing Dr. Tarkiel shows him no pity, though. To her, he's as much a man as he ever was.

Can these two wounded souls conquer outside obstacles, as well as their own internal fears, and find love?

“I’m going to look in your other eye now.”

Rachel again placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelid, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.

She resisted the urge to rub her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair fluttered her eyes closed. She pretended for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.

His breathing quickened, and his hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.

Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I enjoy writing books that entertain and perhaps shed a bit of knowledge either about history, living the rural life, or people in general. Even if I had yet to be published I would still be writing stories. It's something that I can't not do. That others enjoy my stories is a bonus.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to My World!

As the newest member author of RBRU, I thought I'd use my inaugural post to play hostess. So come inside my cyber house and let's chat.

I'm a bipolar writer. Under the name, Gina Ardito, I write sweet, lighthearted contemporary romances. But my slightly darker/older alter ego, Katherine Brandon, writes epic historicals with a bit of a spicy bent--not erotic, mind you. Just no closed bedroom doors, like in Gina's stories. My worlds aren't too far apart so it's fairly easy to straddle them.

Katherine has three books releasing this year with The Wild Rose Press, all part of her Kismet series. Book I, Kismet's Angel, was released in May, Kismet's Revenge (Book II) will be released in August and the third book, Kismet's Salvation is due out in October.

Gina will have three books out, her Nobody series, with Avalon Books over the next eighteen months.
I'm also co-founder and president of Dunes & Dreams, the eastern Long Island chapter of Romance Writers of America®. In that role, I lead a group of about twenty very talented romance writers--half published, half unpublished. We host monthly meetings, online workshops, booksignings, and promote romance writing and reading. On a month to month basis, I'll oversee our meetings, assign chairpersons to different activities like contests and conferences, and act as a liaison between our members and the national organization, as well as our members and the public.

I'm a coffee addict (big surprise!) and my favorite invention of the last few years is the Keurig coffee system, which allows me to brew one perfect cup of coffee whenever I want it.

For today, I'm going to introduce you to Katherine Brandon's first historical novel, Kismet's Angel, which is available now from The Wild Rose Press. I hope you'll enjoy this peek into my work!


In a glistening castle spun from vapor and dreams, Kismet, the goddess of fate, sits upon her celestial throne. While she awaits word from her handmaidens, her fingers drum the armrest, scattering astral dust into perfumed air.

At last the dark-haired Rosamond, mistress of the virtuous, flutters into the chamber and makes her obeisance. “She has arrived, Peerless One,” her melodic voice sings. “Nearly a month too soon.”

“Nevertheless,” Kismet replies, a gentle chastisement, “she is welcome.”

Rising in the mauve sky, the goddess transmutes to pour as incandescent gold into the viewing room. While a cluster of lovely women watches, the light grows denser until the goddess returns to her opaque form. “Where is she, Rosamond?”

“Hyderabad, India, Peerless One. On earth, the year is 1793.”

From her special aperture, Kismet searches the blue planet, but discerns nothing save darkness and rain. A wave of her hand sends a flash of lightning to hurtle downward, illuminating the earthen sky and a ramshackle cottage’s occupant…


Summer lightning speared the gloomy room, startling Ahmed Manu from his chair. He trudged to the window and lifted a trembling hand to the ragged curtain. Nothing stirred but the banyan trees, shuddering beneath the wind’s fury, weeping in grief.

I will not cry. He dropped the curtain. I will not cry.

What would become of him now? Only Kismet knew what the Nizam would do when he learned of his favorite child’s death. The hairs on the back of Ahmed’s neck prickled at the imagined cold steel of a royal executioner’s axe.

Outside, thunder rumbled, combining with the low thud of approaching hooves.

Inhaling courage from the storm, he opened the scarred wooden door. The wind whipped, and the force knocked Ahmed against the wall. On the heels of the gusts, a man raced inside.

“Sarita!” The man removed his sodden cloak, tossing it on the chair before turning to Ahmed. “Where is she? Where is my wife? Is she well?”

Dropping his gaze to the rainwater pooling on the dirt floor, Ahmed choked out the dreadful words. “She—she is dead, Louis. And the child with her.”

“Dead?” The pain in Louis’s voice tore into him like talons. “No, she can’t be.”

I will not cry… “I-I’m sorry. The midwife did all she could. But the babe was too big. Sarita could take no more.”

“Our child,” Louis murmured. “Was it a son or a daughter?”

“The babe was a girl. She never took a breath. Now she sleeps in her mother’s arms for eternity.” Ahmed dared not look at Louis, couldn’t bear to see the agony his words inflicted. He’d made Sarita a promise—his very last service to his beloved princess. Despite the wrongness of it, he’d hold fast to his vow. “Your wife’s only thoughts were of you. She insisted you leave India before the Nizam learns of our tragedy.”

“I would see them first.” Louis strode toward the bedchamber. “I would say goodbye.”

Panic welled. Ahmed leaped to place his hands flat upon the man’s chest, halting any forward motion. “Sarita did not wish you to see her in death. As for the child, your loss will be easier to bear if you’ve never seen her. A faceless memory does not linger.”

As if voicing displeasure, the winds howled and rattled the door. Another stab of remorse pierced Ahmed’s heart. Why had Sarita heaped such a large burden upon him? How long could he keep his secret from Louis’s acute senses? In an effort at distraction, he reached for the sodden cloak still draped over the chair. Rainwater rolled off the garment and splashed onto his bare feet, the rhythm of tears.

I will not cry…

Pulling the grief-stricken man forward, he wrapped the cloak around him. “I’ve secured your passage onboard a merchantman, The Christman. She leaves on the morning tide for Batavia. From there, you must find your way home.”

“Home?” Louis’s dirt-streaked face clouded with grief. “I no longer have a home. Sarita was my home.”

Guilt sliced Ahmed in half. Before he broke and allowed the truth to escape, he led Louis out into the maelstrom. Hard rain pinged his cheeks as he helped Louis mount the saddled horse still standing in the midst of the deluge. “May Kismet smile upon you always, sir,” he shouted above the monsoon’s wind.

Slapping the beast on the rump, he sent horse and rider away. When their shadows disappeared in the dark and rain, he sloshed through ankle-deep mud to return to the house. Once the door closed on nature’s fury, he pressed his dripping head to the rough wood. The deed was done.

A mewling cry broke from the bedchamber. Ahmed hurried into the room, careful to avert his gaze from the lifeless body lying atop blood-soaked bedclothes. The cries grew louder when he lifted a swaddled bundle from a wooden cradle at the bedside.

He removed the blanket covering the child’s head and kissed the feathery hair. “Hush, my little princess,” he crooned, rubbing the infant’s back. “All will be well. Did I not promise your beautiful mother I’d take care of you? Uncle Ahmed is here. I’ll always be here. Don’t cry.”

Unbidden, the litany began again in his brain. I will not cry. I will not cry…

At last the babe quieted and snored against his neck. Only then did he allow the tears to slide down his cheeks. He cried until he was completely devoid of moisture as the storm clouds outside did the same.

He was twelve years old.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview of Author Josh Lanyon

Today it's my pleasure to interview author Josh Lanyon.

Latest Book: The Darkling Thrush
Buy Link:
Video Link:
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including the Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Epic Award winner and a three time Lambda Literary Award finalist. Josh is also the author of the definitive M/M writing guide Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why? What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: The first draft. Ideas are easy and plentiful, and I actually love revising and rewriting, but that first slogging, dragging first draft? UGH. It’s hell on earth. Getting the foundation of the story down is the hardest part because I want that story to fly with angel wings from conception, and of course that just doesn’t happen. It takes a lot of work to make writing look effortless.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Oh well, I will always be very, very fond of Adrien English and Jake Riordan. These were my first series character, and the AE books are still my longest running series, so those characters will always be special to me. As for why? I started writing that series when my life was very much in flux. I had stopped writing for a number of years and was only toying with the idea of getting back into it. My work life was difficult, my personal life was difficult…and Adrien and his adventures offered escape and entertainment. I loved writing those books and I will always love those characters.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: No. They all look quite different. I just hope they look equally different in the minds of readers!

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I try and garden even when I’m writing. It’s great exercise (which all writers need to be conscious of) and it’s very calming. A garden is philosophy brought to practical life. There are many lessons to be learned from gardening, plus it puts us in touch with our senses, and that’s what you want when you write: to be thinking through your senses. How does this smell, taste, feel, look, sound…? So I try to work in an hour of garden time whether I’m writing or not. I really have to, because I am ALWAYS writing.

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: If you ask my readers, they would probably say my characters. I think it’s more that I have a literary background and have been publishing in mainstream for many years. My experiences beyond the narrow realm of romance and ebook publishing allow me to put certain things into context -- perspective -- in a way I think many of my peers aren’t able to do. I think it keeps me realistic -- and saves me a lot of frustration, which ultimately pays off in the writing itself.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: Well, I finally took my shot at fantasy and spec fiction…I haven’t written a western yet. I’d like to try a western!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

Fed up with his desk duty in the Imperial Arcane Library, book hunter Colin Bliss accepts a private commission to find The Sword’s Shadow, a legendary and dangerous witches’ grimoire. But to find the book, Colin must travel to the remote Western Isles and solve a centuries’ old murder.

It should be nothing more than an academic exercise, so why is dour -- and unreasonably sexy -- Magister Septimus Marx doing his best to keep Colin from accepting this mission -- even going so far as to seduce Colin on their train journey north?

Septimus is not the only problem. Who is the strange fairy woman that keeps appearing at inconvenient times? And who is working behind the scenes with the sinister adventuress Irania Briggs? And why do Colin’s employers at the Museum of the Literary Occult keep accusing Colin of betraying them?

As Colin digs deeper and deeper into the Long Island’s mysterious past, he begins to understand why Septimus is willing to stop him at any price -- but by then, it’s too late to turn back.

I set off for the scene of the ambush, slowly driving along the old coast road, keeping an eye out for the stone shaped like a druid or a chess piece. The wind was blowing so hard, the old coupe shook as though we would be knocked into the sea. Electricity crackled in the air.

The land was mostly flat along here. It seemed to me that Mago would have had plenty of time to realize a detail had been sent from the castle. Would he have recognized them as a danger? If he had had time to realize what was happening, would he have tried to prevent the grimoire from falling into the wrong hands?

The coupe crested the small hill, and I saw the stone. It was indeed shaped like a bent and hooded man -- very like one of the chess pieces that Mrs. Morrison had set out for Septimus and me two nights ago.

I pulled to the side of the road, got out, and walked the rest of the way. I could see no place along here that Mago might have hidden a book. Unless he had thrown it into the bog nearby. Had he determined that the book was better destroyed than falling into the wrong hands? If so, he had had a lot in common with Septimus and the Vox Pessimires.

I stood for a moment, visualizing it -- visualizing Mago as he realized he was being pursued: the distant thunder of horse’s hooves, then the scrape and whisper of footsteps on sand, climbing closer, ever closer, the whip of torches in the wind, a smear of yellow in the blackness.

He would know almost at once he was trapped. What would he do? I looked around and spotted a track leading down to the beach.

I followed it until I came to a graveyard in the machair.

Here, there were no fancy, sculpted tombstones or markers as had been in the churchyard on the cliffs. These were plain granite markers. The graves of poor people. Fisherfolk and crofters. I walked among them, studying the inscriptions that had been protected from the relentless Leodhas wind and elements by Old Magick.

The majority of the dates were from around the same era -- and no date of death was noted later than 1388.

I stood still, trying to absorb this.

Very well. So the graveyard had fallen out of use after 1388. Not so odd, was it? The girl in the tobacconist shop had said it herself. Young people moved away, and old people died. Villages were abandoned. So, then, would be their graveyards, correct?

I began to examine the gravestones more closely. As the evidence accumulated, the hair rose on the back of my neck. Whole families had died the same year. Man, woman, child. Grandparents and babies. Seventy people all dead the same year.

Was it a plague? A massacre?

The final grave I found was set some distance from the others. There was no name, no inscription. It was a simple stone carved with a crude seven-point star.

I stared at it for some time, suspecting that I was viewing the grave of Ivan Mago.

Or whatever had been left of him after the eagles had finished.

At last I turned and walked back to the sandy track. I followed it down the wildflower-covered hillside to the beach, until I came to what looked to be an abandoned village.

The lost village of Marbost?

I gazed at the crumble of white crofts and broken seawall. A broken chimney rose from the grass and wildflowers.

The graveyard would likely belong to this village -- this village that had apparently died in 1388. The same year as Swanhild Somerhairle.

It seemed too great a coincidence.

What connection could this village have to Swanhild? Had the people here tried to offer aid to Ivan Mago? Had they been punished for it? That was the sheerest speculation. Why had Mago come this way, though? Why not the road from Steering? That was the direct route.

I stared out at the little harbor. Mago could have landed here, could have chosen this roundabout way to approach Urquhart’s castle, but the only reason for it that I could see would be to conceal his presence on the island.

To conceal his presence from Agro Urquhart.

Success would require the complicity of this village. Why should he have expected that?

But what could have wiped out this entire village if not violent retaliation of some kind? Punishment for a betrayal? Who was better positioned on the island to bring death and destruction to a lot of people at once than the chieftain himself?

I climbed over a broken, blackened wall and dropped down to the spongy ground below, crunching my way over gravel and shell.

Slowly I wandered among the ruins of the lost village. My uneasy suspicion was confirmed. No natural disaster had broken and blackened these stone walls.

I continued down the road until I came to what had clearly been a place of worship. It looked like the ruins of any chapel, but chiseled into the stone threshold was the seven-point star.

So the village of Marbost, like Swanhild, had followed the old religion. Not so surprising. In the fourteenth century, it was Christianity that had been the anomaly. The conversion in Scotland, as in most of the European Alliance states, had been mostly peaceful.

I circled the building, looking for access. I discovered a break in the wall and climbed awkwardly through. The roof was gone, and sunlight shifted across the sand and seaweed-strewn stone floor.

Otherwise the building seemed empty. I was put in mind of the castle chapel. Two places of worship picked clean to the bones of their faith -- though the faiths were very different. At least as far as any faith differed one from the other.

Traversing the long room, I heard a whisper behind me -- a sound like the scrape of a shoe on a sandy floor. Remembering the alarm of the muniment room the day before, I whirled and saw a shadow standing outlined against the wall. Someone was watching me from just inside the fissure in the wall -- someone had climbed in after me.

“Who’s there?” I called sharply.

The silhouette moved into the sunlight.


I hadn’t realized how alarmed I’d been till I felt the rush of relief.

“You startled me.”

“Did I?” Half his face was still in shadow. He seemed unnaturally still.

“Mrs. Morrison said you’d gone back to the mainland.”

“I returned this morning.”

“Are you following me?” I didn’t think he was, so his silence threw me.

“Yes,” he said at last.


“Because I think you’re going to find the Faileas a’ Chlaidheimh

Well, that made one of us. I wasn’t nearly as hopeful. “I thought you didn’t want me to find it.”

“It doesn’t matter what I want. It’s too late now.”

He sounded grim. I walked toward him, saying, “Look, Septimus, I don’t think I’m as close as you believe, but if I was…do you really think I’m so irresponsible that I’d let it go to the highest bidder? If I do find it, I’ll take it to the Societas Magicke first. I know the Arcane Services would have to have a say in the disposition of such a powerful grimoire.”

He shook his head.

There was something at work here I didn’t understand. Something that turned his eyes black with an emotion alarmingly like grief. I put my hand out to him, resting it on his sleeve. “What’s wrong?”

He pulled me into his arms, half crushing me, and his mouth found mine. Shockingly I could taste tears on his lips.

I pushed away, staring at him. He was crying. His face was wet, though he made no sound. “What is it? Septimus? What in the name of All is wrong?”

His hands grasped my shoulders hard, then seemed to gentle, sliding down my arms to hold my hands. He gazed gravely into my eyes. His tears had stopped.

“I have to kill you,” he said.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blurbs or Blubs?

I recently asked this question on a writer’s loop and heard many interesting answers but not the specific answers I was hoping for. My question was “When shopping for books, what do you look for in a blurb?” Most of us grab a book based on a familiar name or an eye-catching cover, but ten seconds later we are flipping the book over in our hands, or scrolling downward if we are shopping on-line, to read the Blurb.
This is the crucial make-it or break-it point in the possible sale of the book. Does the blurb tell us what we are hoping to hear? Is this our idea of a good time and worth the money and mental energy to consume this book?
An author is often limited to 180 words or less in a blurb so I would like to ask, “What are you looking for in a blurb?” Content, sub-genre, Assurance of a happy ending, key words or themes such as “Master, kidnapped, bondage or bride?” What words are most compelling in a blurb to assure a reader they are getting the book they want?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
XXOO Katalina Leon
Ps Warning brag alert: Night Owl Reviews gave “Owned By Rome” 5 Stars.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Man of Inspiration

Hello my fellow romance fans! I am so glad to be here today and I hope that I am able to provide you with a great blog post. This is my first post with Romance Books "R" Us and I will continue to be here every 21st of the month. So let’s begin!

With Father’s Day being yesterday, I wanted to pay a little tribute to the dads out there.

Now, I know that everyone has a "father", but it takes someone special to be a "dad". Not all of us are fortunate enough to have those kind of men in our lives, and for that, my heart goes out to you.

But today, I want to give thanks to those dads who stuck around when the going got tough. Those who were there day in and day out, teaching us what it meant to be a good person toward others. Those who showed by example what it means to be steadfast and loyal. Those who were loving and respectful to all the women in their lives. And above all, those who were there with strong, open arms when we needed that formidable, protective embrace.

That is what real dads do. And on this day, and I want to give those dads my gratitude and respect for the hard work and dedication they put forth for their children. Specifically, my own dad.

In 2005, my little sister died in a tragic car accident on her way to college. I remember the drive to the hospital being incredibly long, though it was only about twenty minutes away. And the first person I saw standing outside the hospital was my dad. I was the oldest of his children, and the last to arrive as I had the longest drive to get there. He was waiting for me and the moment I stepped out of the car, he told me the terrible news. My legs buckled and I could no longer stand.

My dad, being the amazing man that he is, picked me up (a thirty-three year old woman at the time) and carried me in his arms. He held me with such strength and love, despite that his own sorrow was probably greater than mine. He allowed me the time to grieve, to cry in his arms, even as he, himself, was mourning the loss of his youngest daughter.

Looking back, the strength my dad had at that moment astounds me. He was the solid ground we needed when our world had been turned upside down. He was the sturdy shoulder we cried on when we were too weak to stand on our own feet. He was the supportive parent when we, the lost children, needed guidance and encouragement. And to this day, my dad is still all of that and more. He is the very backbone of our family.

So, what does this have to do with romance? Everything.

My parents will be celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary this September and to me, that is a real life romance story. My dad loves my mother more now than he ever did, and to see them together, is absolutely heartwarming. He may not know it, but my dad is my role model for writing sensual, love-never-dies romance.

He’s strong, loyal, and dedicated. And is that not what we want our heroes to be when we read (and write) romance?

So tell me. Who else has an amazing dad? A dad who is not afraid to go the extra mile for his children. A dad who has supported you in the most profound way. A dad who is your inspiration…please share your story. I’d love to hear about him.

Happy reading everyone, and I’ll see you all next month!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Interview of Romance Reader Dean Y.

Our readers are so special to authors...we love to hear from you! Here's an interview of romance reader Dean Y.
Photo: September 5, 2008, looking towards the sunrise, shortly after 7 a.m. from Dean's home in Kansas.
BIO: I’m an avid reader in a family of readers. I’m the mother of two adult children with one beautiful grand daughter. I love to travel and do as much as I can with the man I have been married to for nearly 40 years. I work in a psychiatric setting and enjoy the escape books give me to many places I have been or will never have the chance to be.

Q: What type of genre do you enjoy the most and why?
A: I love historical, westerns, and some contemporary fiction. I like books that take me to places I would love to visit with interesting people I would like to know.

Q: What inspired you to read romance books?
A: My mother-in-law gave me a book a number of years ago and I got hooked. I use it to escape from daily life and a need to relax after a busy stress filled day of working.

Q: Do you read ebooks, print books, or both? Have you thought about getting an ebook reader if you don’t already have one?
A: I have not gotten an e-reader, yet, but still looking, as they would be handy to have when traveling, which I have been doing more of recently. However, I have always loved the feel and smell of a good book.

Q: Besides those of us at “Romance Books R Us”, who are your favorite authors?
A: Some of the authors I look for include: Madeline Hunter, Mary Balogh, Gayle Trent, Luanne Rice, Richard North Patterson, James Patterson, Rose Conners, Dale Brown, Kate Wihelm, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Tom Clancey, and many many others.

Q: Do you visualize the hero and heroine as you read? Do you use the cover (if they’re shown) as images for them?
A: I do visualize the hero and heroine as I read. Sometimes the cover images match what is being described and sometimes not, so then I use my imagination.

Q: Do you enter contests? What type of items do you enjoy getting if you win?
A: I do enter contests… Fresh Fiction is one I go to a number of times each week. My favorite thing to receive is books or gift certificates to purchase books. I live in an area without bookstores, so books are a welcome item.
Also, this allows to read authors I may not pick up otherwise.

Q: Do you read blurbs and excerpts? Which one is most important in your decision to buy a book and why?
A: I check out the cover, but the most important is the blurbs when making the decision to purchase. I like to get a feel for the story and blurbs aren’t always enough.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I love to read and enjoy the contests as I am always seeking new authors to read.

Thanks, Dean, for taking the time to do an interview!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Putting Yourself Out There

It's June again, and the start of my yearly 'tour'. I take my two self-pubbed books (I did a much better job on the second one, imho!) and go try to coerce-um, persuade people they absolutely must read my work. I also take my e-reader, now that Kenzie's published, to show the uninformed how to read her book.

I wasn't always this outgoing. No, when my first book arrived, I wanted to crawl into a cave a hide. I 'just knew' my parents would give me 'The Look', you know the one which tells you 'yes-we're-disappointed-you-chose-to-do-this-but-we-still-love-you'.

But I bravely decided, okay; I've spent this money chasing my dream; now let's get out there and see if people like my story. After all, I did have several people in my neighborhood who had read all five books and liked them:)

And lo and behold...I had a woman buy my book at a local festival on the first night. The second night, she came through, told me she had started reading and couldn't wait to get back to it. The third day, she marched over to my booth, slapped her hands down, and exclaimed, "I loved it! I could not put it down, and I'm going to recommend it to my daughter. When is the next book coming out?"

All I could do was stammer my thanks and offer her a 'sneak peak' at book #2. She went away and I've not seen her since.

That was in 2003. Book #2 was released in 2007, and I've not been able to return to that particular festival since 2005. But that summer taught me something valuable. If I want people to buy my books, I have to get over my shyness and actually talk to people.

Since becoming friends with many authors in the past three years, I've been fortunate enough to purchase not only their e-books, but some print ones too. Sometimes I've even won autographed copies. Now my booth includes a display which I've joked is my traveling bookstore....except the books are not for sale. Some authors send me promo items, such as business cards, postcards, or bookmarks. I display these as well, so if anyone takes interest in a particular book, I can tell them where to buy it, or encourage the person to take the promo item. And afterward, I email the authors and tell them potential readers are heading their way.

And this brings up another point:
Authors Behaving Badly

Acting like divas.

Thinking 'oh, I'm published...I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread'.

Bad-mouthing others all over the internet.

Telling someone a confidence and two days later seeing your words splashed all over the internet.

Whatever happened to common courtesy?

Not naming names here, but I've learned a past acquaintance is up to his/her old tricks. I'm actually saddened by this; apparently the fact s/he's lost friends hasn't deterred this person from changing for the better. If you're going to bash others, be prepared for a backlash. Don't be stunned if someone has the nerve to criticize you back.

In fact, let's try something radical. If someone criticizes you or your work, by all means, go off in a corner and have a good cry. But instead of retaliation, laugh it off. Don't sink to their level. It only makes you look small and insecure.

And who wants to buy books from a selfish author? I'd rather buy from a friendly author, one who admits his or her mistakes, rather than being vindictive about past wrongs.

Think about it.

Want the blurb and excerpt to the above book?

Love Finds A Way
Publication Date: November 2007
Buy Link: Click here.

Can a blind date turn into a romance? Amy Callahan wants to find out, so when she flies to California to spend a week with Matt Slagal, she discovers the ups and downs of a long distance relationship. Which one prevails..."Absence makes the heart grow fonder" or, "Out of sight, out of mind"?

"I'm not changing my life! If they don't like it, they can stuff it!" Matt returned hotly.

"Ssssh...I'm not asking you to change." Amy tried to be tactful. "All I’m asking is that you not, er, curse so much," she finished lamely.


"Please?" she pleaded. She rolled over and looked him in the eye. "All I ask is that you clean up your vocabulary for a few hours while we're with my parents."

"You want me to kiss ass," he commented.

"Not quite...I just want you to make a good impression." Tears welled up unexpectedly in her eyes, and she rested her head on Matt's chest. "This is important to me," she whispered.

"Oh, all right, I'll watch what I say next weekend. Can I smoke and drink beer too, or is that also taboo?"

"Stop it!" Amy locked eyes with him.

"What?" Matt asked, acting innocent.

"You know what I mean," she replied fiercely. "I'd rather you not smoke, but a few beers won't hurt. I'm not asking you to bend over backwards; all I want is for you to be civil towards them!"

"I'm always civil," he protested.

"I didn't mean it like that," Amy put her head down again. "I meant that sometimes, well, you have a tendency to act antisocial, as a know-it-all."

"I do what?"

Feeling herself losing ground, Amy groaned. The conversation wasn't going the way she'd hoped.

"I would feel better if you and my parents were to start off on the right foot," she said, choosing her words carefully. "They have the stereotypical California military officer in their minds, and I don't want them judging you in that way."

"Just out of curiosity, what exactly is the 'stereotypical California military officer'?" Matt was amused.

Amy thought for a moment. "Promise you won't get upset? He's the dedicated officer, but loud, rude, disrespectful when off duty. He's lazy; a womanizer; an alcoholic; not someone to bring home."

"So that's what your parents are expecting me to be," said Matt.

"But," Amy continued. "I've told them your good points, so they're not expecting Godzilla. Now, can we drop the subject and get some sleep?"

"No, we can't."

"Why not?"

"Because," he lowered his voice while sliding his hand down to cup her breast. "This military officer has a naked, sexy woman in his bed, and wants to take advantage of the situation!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview of Author Faye Hughes

Today it's my pleasure to present an interview of talented author Faye Hughes.


Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
and bookstores everywhere on June 18

Faye Hughes is the multi-published, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, whose work has been translated into 13 languages. She has published seven novels of romance fiction for Bantam, Kensington and Meteor; two of her novels were optioned for TV movies. She writes non-fiction with fellow romance author Christie Craig. Together, they wrote THE EVERYTHING GUIDE TO WRITING A ROMANCE NOVEL, which was released in September, 2008. Her most recent non-fiction title is WILD, WICKED & WANTON: 101 WAYS TO LOVE LIKE YOU'RE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL, a humorous self-help/relationship book about what real women can learn about men and relationships from reading romance novels.

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: I’ve actually had two novels optioned for TV movies and believe me, I played the “what if” game quite a bit. LOL. For Wild, Wicked & Wanton, we have Jayne, who represents all romance heroines. As we say in the book, Jayne has starred in sizzling historical, in scary romantic-thrillers, in super sexy erotic romances as well as everything else in between. Jayne represents every woman so I always see her as a younger Sandra Bullock. (Not that Sandy doesn’t still rock, of course.)

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: Oh, this is a great question. I think writers are superstitious. I have to have my lucky coffee mug and my lucky tee shirt before I start writing. Same with my food choices. My favorite comfort food is Haagen-Daz Strawberry ice cream. My cats love it, too. (They come over and insist I share, which I always do.) I like to reward myself after a scene has gone especially well . . . or console myself if it’s been a bad day at the keyboard.

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: Oooh, another good question. I think my strongest point is characterization in fiction, definitely. Overall, I think it’s my voice, though. I use a different skill set when writing non-fiction, of course, but the “voice” is very similar to the one I use when writing fiction. And while you didn’t ask, let me say that I love writing both non-fiction and fiction. It’s especially great when the two sort of mesh, the way they did with Wild, Wicked & Wanton.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: Hmm. That’s a tough one because there are so many great romance novels out there. That’s the great thing about romance, really, as a genre. It comes in digital and print, in blazing hot and very sweet, in contemporary, historical and futuristic settings. Okay, I think you get what I’m saying, right? Favorite books right now depends on sub-genre. Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig is favorite contemporary. Okay, Christie is my non-fiction writing partner, so I admit to being biased but her book totally rocks. If you like funny, laugh-out-loud romances, check her out. Also, I love, love, LOVE Alyssa Day’s Warriors of Poseidon books. In romantic suspense, Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Clair, Karen Rose and Colleen Thompson are all auto-buys. Kate Douglas’ Wolf Tales are fabulous erotic romances. (Warning: Her books are super hot and “over the top,” as she likes to say.) Kate’s got a new series out now that’s more paranormal romances. Demonfire is the first, and I love it.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: Another great question. I think YA. I’ve read and enjoyed so many YA books – Jenna Black’s new Glimmerglass released in May and it’s a great paranormal series. As for why I haven’t tried it, well, it’s mostly a time issue. I need more of it. Anyone have any suggestions on how I get more hours in the day? LOL

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Chats, or Twitter. Which do you like best and why?
A: Definitely Twitter. I have a MySpace page and a Facebook page but I rarely use them. Twitter is just so darn easy. It fits into my schedule. Right now, I’m tweeting 101 Reasons Why Romance Novels are Good For Us. I’m about mid-way through – I’ll be doing it all month. Please come visit me - @Faye_Hughes

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Christie and I have a website for writers called that has writing tips and a whole lot more.We also have info on our books there. Right now, we’re running a contest for Wild, Wicked & Wanton, so check that out and please enter!

Sure, romance novels are fun, pure fantasy, but can they actually teach a woman anything about love?


In fact, if a woman spent as much time plotting her romantic relationships as authors did in plotting their romance novels, there would be less heartache. And if real women took their cues from romance heroines, there might be more real-life Happily Ever Afters. Romance authors Christie Craig and Faye Hughes have turned their philosophy into a humorous self-help relationship book that lists 101 ways a woman can love like she’s a romance heroine.

Now, granted, romance heroines aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. But by the end of the book, they’ve earned their walk into the sunset. So, how do they do it? Courage, wisdom and some kick-ass gumption. Heroines don’t wish they’d said something, they say it. They don’t fret about their problems, they fix them. Couldn’t we all use a little bit of their wisdom?

Go a Little Wild, Wicked and Wanton

Meet Jayne. Like most romance heroines - and most real life women - she's had her share of heartaches. But her search for true love teaches her—and can teach all women – some valuable lessons:
How to Recognize a Keeper . . . and a Creeper
How to Tame a Bad Boy
How to Trust Your Instincts
How to Find Your Own Mr. Right
And Much, Much More!

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks to Marianne for giving me this fabulous opportunity! If you’d like to read an excerpt for Wild, Wicked and Wanton, please click here

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Music and writing

Does music influence your writing? I know there’s been some discussion of this before, but I’d really like to know just how much influence it has. And for readers, do you respond to music references in the stories you read?

I can’t write at all if I have music playing too loudly nearby. Music in my head is another matter. That’s a given. I’m liable to get one tune going for two weeks or more, and that can drive me crazy or else be quite consoling. If it gets too noisy up there I deliberately listen to a tape or two until another song takes over. Then the new tune runs around upstairs there for another two weeks or so.

What I really like to do it put music in my books so it influences my characters. I do that a lot. Choir music in a cathedral, loud swinging music at a nightclub of the 20’s, a hero singing a love song to his beloved. I’ve used those and more, being very careful of the copyrights. 75 years or more older and using the words is generally safe. Only ran into one case where my editor took it out, and that was a quote from a tune that exactly fit the mood. Seems it was still in copyright, but I would have loved to have used it. If in doubt I merely reference the song. Then I don’t try to work in the words, even though they’d sometimes be perfect for the mood my hero or heroine is in.

Here’s an excerpt I once used that worked well. In this case I was able to use what I wanted with an acknowledgement to Cole Porter as his copy rights have lapsed. Good thing for all of us, since his songs are still popular. This is from Druid Redeemed, a runner-up for best book of that year. Devon find music stealing into his soul and waking him up to his true feelings.

“The band played slow, haunting music, deepening his mood and bringing a little measure of quiet to the audience. Priss had disappeared. He wasn’t surprised, nor did he care. The orchestra swung into some haunting stanzas he recognized and hummed under his breath.
He had it. He even knew the words. A beautiful haunting melody capable of lingering in your mind for days. Irving Berlin’s “The Song is Ended”. A new song and one he loved. He mouthed the words under his breath, even as a girl came to the microphone and sang the poignant lyrics.
“The song is ended but the melody lingers on, You and the song are gone but the melody lingers on.”
The soloist swayed to the music, seductively urging all on the dance floor to clasp their partners a little tighter.
Devon sat listening. Suddenly he knew one thing with a certainty he hadn’t enjoyed for some time. His song had indeed ended and like a fool he’d ended it himself. He’d once owned the most beautiful song in the world but one only Jocie could sing with him. He’d pushed the sole source of lasting pleasure from his life. What in Satan’s Hades had he been thinking?
The soloist swung into “And Then my Heart Stood Still”.
He sat straighter in his chair. He’d known all the time how special Jocie was. He’d refused to admit it. She didn’t fit into his long-time plans of a life of pointless pleasure. He recognized with a blaze of understanding a life without her made his future forever meaningless. The knowledge cut into him like a hot knife into butter.
Now when it might be too late the realization crashed into his very being that he was an idiotic fool. He’d held happiness cradled in his hands. He finally let down the barriers to his mind and admitted Jocie was the one he desired and needed. Needed more than he’d ever imagined he could need anyone. His soul, already shrunken past what it was meant to be, would shrivel away to nothing without her.
Devon sat rigidly at the table, the words reverberating in his mind. Had he really come to this? Only one woman mattered to him? Only one woman in all the vast array of women?
I never lived at all, until the thrill of that moment when my heart stood still.
The words seeped into his very soul. He didn’t even have to close his eyes to see Jocie, defiantly daring Sgt. Briggs to arrest her, spitting like a beautiful kitten with her cat’s eyes glaring at him. He’d known then, at that very moment and refused to admit he’d met the one woman for him. His soul had recognized hers and he’d shoved the thought away.”

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it…

Interview of Author Nicole Morgan

I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Nicole Morgan.
CONTEST: Read below to find out how to win an ebook copy of "Sudden Devotion"!

Latest Book: Sudden Devotion
Buy Link:


Nicole Morgan is an avid reader who kept having one recurring problem. Ideas of stories kept popping into her head. She ignored her desire to write until her curiosity got the better of her and she decided to research what steps she would have to take if she truly wanted to take a chance and write.

Nicole took a chance and followed her dream. She has been blessed with some fabulous opportunities and has met some wonderful people along the way. Writing is a true love to her and has brought her a new and profound happiness with every step she’s taken along the way.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: I think for me that would have to be the first chapter. Once I get an idea in my head on what I want to write, the beginning just sort of flows from me. It’s not until later in the story I find myself getting stuck or having to really brainstorm which way I want to go with it.

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: Well, like most of my heroines they are petite and blonde. I try to steer out of the norm one in a while but in this story I kept her blonde. That hair color seemed more appropriate for her type and personality. As far as movie stars go, I would have to say that Hayden Panettiere gives off the same amount of innocent beauty, which is exactly what I was going for with the character Sara.

Q:  If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your hero? Tell us about your hero.
A: Well, oddly enough when I was writing the character for Mitch I wasn’t so much thinking of a movie star as much as a model. Specifically a romance cover model. I had a vision of one particular man in my head when I was writing about Mitch. Images of Jimmy Thomas kept flashing into my mind as the story played out. So, Mitch was born in the image of Jimmy. Thank you for that Jimmy!

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: I’ve been known to enjoy a bowl of popcorn every now and again while writing. I find myself getting engrossed in the story and munching on the popcorn much like I would if I was sitting in the movie theatre.

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: I send an email to everyone I know saying I will be out of contact for a very long time! I mean, there is a handsome man with me on a remote island right? I am not wasting that! Perhaps he can inspire me!

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: Wow. I have been asked this so much lately that I secretly think you might all be plotting against me to make sure I get off my tushy and get it done. LOL. Seriously though, I have always wanted to attempt the paranormal romance genre, especially the ones with erotic content but I’ve been a bit too apprehensive to go for it. I did manage to type a small paranormal chapter which was just barely 1000 words for Stella Cameron’s Scarlet Boa contest last year. I didn’t win of course, but I did find it intriguing, writing in a completely different way than what I was used to. It’s definitely something that I need to pursue because that story still keeps popping in my head.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

Sara is inexperienced with men, but finds her untapped sexuality is bursting beneath the pressure of lustful desires. Mitch works with Sara and knows office romances can go horribly wrong, but that doesn’t stop him from going ahead with his plan to seduce her. Soon, the two find themselves in an erotic game of pleasure. Their affair proves to be more than either of them anticipated. After only a couple of days their relationship intensifies into a firestorm of passion and they begin to fall in love.

Claudia works with them both and isn’t happy when Mitch rejects her advances. Not willing to take no for an answer she uses every form of manipulation to drive the couple apart. Is their relationship strong enough to handle the betrayal that they believe to be true? Or will the thought of losing each other be the catalyst to keep them together?

Sara looked at Mitch over the rim of her glass after taking a sip. Setting it down, she spoke candidly, “Mitch, I’m sorry for the way I acted just a little while ago. I wish I wasn’t so unsure of myself. You told me I should be truthful with you so I will.”

She took a breath as she folded her fingers together on the table. “The truth is, I really like you. And I really don’t want to do something to scare you off. That’s why I didn’t want you to think you had to do all of this,” she said, motioning with her hands at the ambiance of the restaurant. “But,” she said before he could protest, “I think I could get used to you spoiling me a little.”

“Well, I am very glad to hear that. I think I will enjoy spoiling you as well. Now, what are the odds I can get you to take off those panties?”

“Ahem, sorry, sir. Your, ah, salads.”

Mitch and Sara waited quietly as the waiter set their salad plates down in front of them. When the red-faced waiter left them, they both burst out into laughter.

Trying to regain her composure, Sara reached for her wine glass and eyed him with disbelief. “You are going to have to do something about your predilection toward me having a naked bottom.”

With complete disobedience in his eyes and a hint of mockery in his tone, he said, “You know, I think you’re right. When we leave here, let’s go pick up some lighter fluid and have ourselves a little panty barbeque on your patio.”

She laughed for a moment before she asked, “How did you know I had a barbeque?”

Shit! There was no way he could tell her yet. She would retreat and run. Trying to play it casual, he said, “I just figured. Does that mean we get to do it?” He waggled his brows at her.

“Hardly. But if you keep making me laugh like this, I might have to reward you later. I swear, I haven’t had this much fun in such a long time.”

They ate their salads over small talk. Sharing a few laughs over some of the people at the office, causing them both to be equally surprised to find that when it came to their co-workers, their opinions were identical. Amazingly, they had a lot in common.

Mitch wasn’t surprised at how compatible they seemed. When he watched her in her window just a couple of nights ago, he knew there was something about her. Something other than the fact that she looked absolutely magnificent as she touched herself in the moonlight.

The waiter took their salad plates away, and Mitch took a swig of wine before refilling both of their glasses. “Feel like playing a game?”

She smirked. “I am not going to take off my panties, and that is final. Wait until we get home.”

He wanted to laugh at her comment. But something about the way she said ‘until we get home’ caused a small flutter in his stomach. Could he actually really be falling for her? They haven’t even been dating for a week yet. He tried to ignore the sensation. “You’ve heard of word association games, right?”

Sipping her wine, she nodded.

“Well, it can be kind of interesting sometimes. Do you want to try?”

“Sure, why not?"

“Good. I’ll start. But remember, you have to say the first word that comes into your mind. So, I’ll start with, ah,” Mitch looked around the room for inspiration and saw it, “Leprechaun."

Sara glanced around the restaurant until she saw a sweet little man with red hair. The only thing missing on him was a green suit. She laughed. “Okay, St.Patrick."



“Fish and chips.”

“That’s three words," Sara chided him.

He shrugged. “Hey, you got away with St. Patrick. That’s two words.”

“Fine. Cheater.”

“I’m not a cheater!” He laughed.

“No, my word is cheater.”

“Oh, okay. Um, never.”

She eyed him, as though thinking of what to say next. “Land.”

“Land? What does – oh, I get it. From Peter Pan, Never Land. Okay, um,

“Flying.” She smiled while sipping her wine.

“Climax.” Mitch watched as her face reddened.

Obviously not willing to back down ,Sara responded quickly,“Euphoria.”



“You.” He whispered the word with a gleam in his eye.

CONTEST: Leave a comment for Nicole Morgan and you'll be entered in her contest to win a copy of "Sudden Devotion". A winner will be chosen at midnight on 17 June.  BE SURE TO PUT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN THE COMMENT BOX SO NICOLE CAN NOTIFY YOU IF YOU WIN!

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